Oscars 2019: Stars object to awards ceremony change
Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese are among more than 40
directors and cinematographers who have signed an open letter
criticising the decision to hand out four Oscars during the ad
Edited speeches from the winners of best cinematography,
editing, hair and makeup and live action short will be played
later in the ceremony.
The signatories, who also include Roger Deakins, have urged the
Academy to reverse the decision.
What is the issue?
On 11 February the Academy emailed members to say that, in
order to keep the show down to three hours, they would be
presenting four awards during commercial breaks.
Their winning speeches would then be aired later in the
broadcast in edited form.
It is hoped the shorter ceremony will stop falling viewers for the
“Viewing patterns for the Academy Awards are changing quickly
in our current multi-media world, and our show must also evolve
to successfully continue promoting motion pictures to a
worldwide audience,” the email said.
What has the reaction been?
Russell Crowe called it “a fundamentally stupid decision” and too
“dumb for words”.
Double Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, whose film Roma is
nominated for 10 Oscars this year including cinematography was
one of the first to object.
Fellow director Guillermo del Toro also voiced his concern.
Who has written the letter?
There are more than 40 cinematographers and directors who
have criticised the decision.
They include Damien Chazelle, Spike Jonze, Ang Lee, Spike Lee,
Seth Rogen, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino.
Roger Deakins, who finally won an Oscar for cinematography last
year after 14 nominations, is also a signatory along with 32 other
There are also 53 filmmakers named including Paul Lambert who
won an Oscar for his visual effects work on Blade Runner 2049.
What does it say?
The letter says that by “relegating these essential cinematic
crafts to lesser status… is nothing less than an insult to those of
us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen
They are asking for the decision to be reversed.
“The vocal response from our peers and the immediate backlash
from industry leaders over the Academy’s decision makes it clear
that it’s not too late to have this decision reversed,” the letter
It adds the Academy was drifting from its mission in celebrating
excellence in the cinematic arts.
“Unfortunately, we have drifted from this mission in our pursuit of
presenting entertainment rather than in presenting a celebration
of our art form and the people behind it,” it said.
This is not the first controversy over this year’s Oscars
The Academy announced plans to introduce a new popular film
category but decided to postpone it after a backlash.
Kevin Hart pulled out of hosting the awards following a
controversy over homophobic tweets.
The show will now have no host.
What has the Academy response been?
The Academy has responded with a letter to its members
reassuring them that no award category “will be presented in a
manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and
winners as less than any others.”
It clarified the categories were volunteered by their branches to
have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and
included later in the broadcast.
The ceremony will be live streamed for the first time this year
and these awards can be watched live online.
The letter states that show producers have “given great
consideration to both Oscar tradition and our broad global
“We sincerely believe you will be pleased with the show, and
look forward to celebrating a great year in movies with all
Academy members and with the rest of the world.”
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