Oscar organizers struggle to keep show relevant

From going without a host to handing out key awards during commercial breaks, to a quickly nixed idea for a popular film category — Oscar organizers are struggling to keep Hollywood’s biggest night relevant while dealing with a string of messy controversies.

With less than two weeks to go before the February 24 gala, the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been weathering the latest debacle over four awards to be presented off-air — a decision many in the industry have denounced as “stupid” and “disrespectful.”

The awards are Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Live Action Short, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Academy president John Bailey informed the membership of the plan earlier this week, saying it was in line with a promise to shorten the broadcast to three hours, an hour shorter than previous telecasts.

The decision, however, has been met with derision across the industry,
with more than 40 top cinematographers and directors, including Quentin
Tarantino and Spike Lee, sending a letter of protest to the Academy.

“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st
Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who
have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” the open
letter read.

Alfonso Cuaron, whose celebrated movie “Roma” has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including best cinematography, said the move amounted to marginalizing key players in the art of moviemaking.

“In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound,
without color, without a story, without actors and without music,” he tweeted “No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”

Lee, whose film BlacKkKlansman has been nominated in six categories,
including for best director, also weighed in during an interview on US television.

“As a director, without my cinematographer, editor, hair and makeup, there’s no movie,” he said, suggesting Oscar organizers “get rid of musical numbers” to stick to a three-hour running time.

The Academy tried to clarify its decision, underlining in a letter to members that while the four awards will not be seen live, the winning speeches will air later in the broadcast and will also be live-streamed.

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