The Academy has finally decided which categories will be presented during the commercial breaks at the 91st Oscars on February 24. Four groups of winners will accept their awards, which will be edited into the ABC broadcast. Academy President John Bailey, a cinematographer, led the way with his branch, which volunteered to be edited during the Oscar telecast, along with sound editing, sound mixing, and documentary branches. This year the edited winners will be cinematography, film editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling. Next year a different group will rotate into being presented during the ad breaks.
Bailey wrote an email to Academy members with the details for the show, below. He stressed that the Oscars are “still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars.” And for the first time, ABC will live stream the Oscarcast, including these four full award presentations. “Fans will be able to watch on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social channels,” Bailey wrote. “The live stream is a first for our show, and will help further awareness and promotion of these award categories. In the case of the four categories that are announced during commercial breaks, the winning speeches will air later in the broadcast.”
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This unpopular plan to shorten some of the craft categories during the telecast by editing them into the show like the BAFTAs and Tony Awards is designed to keep the length of the show to less than three hours and boost the telecast’s ratings. However, like the BAFTAs, which were aired some time after the live event, tweets will give away the winners long before they air.
The idea is to cut down the length of the walkups and highlight the best parts of the speeches. It’s a work in progress. But some valuable momentum and tension will be lost if, for example “Roma” wins cinematography early in the night and viewers won’t be able to speculate about its later wins. And editing is often a category that presages the eventual winner, creating suspense.
Timing will be everything. Tellingly, none of the categories consigned to commercial breaks happen to feature a nominee from Disney, the parent company of ABC.
Here’s the email:
Dear Fellow Academy Members,
After months of anticipation and much talk, I’d like to address a topic that’s close to me.
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. This has been our core mission since we were established 91 years ago—and it is the same today.
As you may remember, last summer the Academy’s Board of Governors committed to airing a three-hour show. I want to reiterate however, that all 24 Academy Award-winning presentations will be included in the broadcast. We believe we have come up with a great way to do this, and keep the show to three hours.
While still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars, four categories—Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling – will be presented during commercial breaks, with their winning speeches aired later in the broadcast.
And, with the help of our partners at ABC, we also will stream these four award presentations online for our global fans to enjoy, live, along with our audience. Fans will be able to watch on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social channels. The live stream is a first for our show, and will help further awareness and promotion of these award categories.
The executive committees of six branches generously opted-in to have their awards presented in this slightly edited timeframe for this year’s show, and we selected four. In future years, four to six different categories may be selected for rotation, in collaboration with the show producers. (This year’s categories will be exempted in 2020.)
The Academy Awards honors the year’s best films and filmmakers. It is an international show, filled with great emotion, and (we hope) stirring acceptance speeches. This year, in addition to performances of all five nominated songs, the show will feature Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic playing during In Memoriam, as part of their own centennial celebration.
So, buckle up! We are committed to presenting a show which we all will be proud of.