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The Oscars’ Latest Decision Shows How out of Touch They Are With Cinema Culture

Seriously, what the hell?

91st Oscars title card.

The Oscars are really struggling this year. First, there was the terrible idea to create a Best Popular Film category. Then, there was the entire host debacle. Now, the Oscars have decided that to save time, they will announce the winners for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Hair and Makeup, and Best Live Action Short during commercial breaks. Cue the collective rage of anyone who values the work that these nominees and those in their field do.

I understand the goal of a shorter show. The Oscars have been struggling with their ratings, and plenty of people have offered criticism of the ceremony’s self-indulgent length, but the solution isn’t to cut down four important awards and not allow their winners the same glory afforded to the other categories. Though the Academy promises to air their speeches later in the evening, it still is not the same.

The Live Action Short cut is a choice many might agree with, as it is not as “glamorous” as some of the others, but that doesn’t take into account that the shorts are oftentimes made by weekend warriors who will return to their day jobs the next day. Very rarely do big directorial names like Spielberg or big studios like Warner Bros. craft a short; it is the work of those trying to tell a story near and dear to their hearts who don’t have the clout that others in the ceremony have.

To remove Live Action Short from the telecast is a rude moment for those who have worked so hard with less financial support than the other nominees have and could really use the visibility. These directors deserve to have their moment in the spotlight just as much as we give celebrities their moment in the spotlight.

Similarly, why drop Hair and Makeup? That’s a really fun category, and also something that is a highly underrated field. Without the right hair and makeup, your film can fall flat in terms of visuals. Film allows actors to transform into historical figures, so why not honor the way that artists visually transform them into these characters?

I am especially frustrated with the decision to do Best Cinematography and Best Editing to the commercial breaks. As many have pointed out, film is a visual medium. By removing cinematography and editing from the equation, the Academy is saying that the technical way that this very visual medium comes to life is somehow less important than directing and writing.

Editing can make a good film great, cover up flaws, and accentuate strengths. It’s a hard job that involves sitting in a dark room for months, obsessing over matching cuts together. Any production student will tell you about long nights spent editing their project; magnify that by about a thousand, and you’ve got the process of editing a feature film. It’s disrespectful to give this award during the commercial break.

Similarly, cinematography is the best way to visually convey your story, as it is quite literally the camera’s point of view. Imagine your favorite films of the year without some of their most iconic shots. Are they still as good? Cinematographers work incredibly hard to make sure they execute the director’s vision flawlessly, and bring their own gorgeous flair to the project. They, too, deserve a moment in the spotlight.

There have to be ways to cut down the Oscars without cutting down on categories. Critics and film fans are more upset about not being able to see these categories being broadcast on air than they are about potentially having to sit through ten extra minutes at the end of the ceremony. There has to be a way to do better and still honor all the nominees, because that’s what they deserve.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

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