The controversial decision to cut eight below-the-line Oscar categories from the live broadcast has attracted no shortage of attention, with Hollywood filmmakers expressing almost unified opposition to the decision. While the categories (documentary short, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short, and sound) will still be shown in the telecast, the acceptance speeches will be pre-taped before the show and edited in to save time. Many have felt that the move snubs the behind-the-scenes workers who make movies possible, and who get the least recognition outside of the Oscars.
The move was a hot topic at Saturday night’s Art Directors Guild Awards, with two of Hollywood’s top directors adding their voices to the chorus of naysayers about the decision. “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve, who was honored with the William Cameron Menzies Award, was extremely blunt with his thoughts when he spoke to Deadline.
“Honestly, I think that the Academy’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Villeneuve said. “I think it’s a mistake. And I understand that they’re under tremendous pressure, but I think it isn’t the right decision.”
“The thing is that filmmaking is about a teamwork. It’s like a football team,” Villeneuve said. “It’s like you have like all different kinds of jobs that everybody needs to get the top of its game; otherwise the movie collapses, you know? It’s a team effort. In the media we are a lot about the directors. We are, of course, a lot about the actors. All the people that are working in the shadows there, unfortunately, they need to be seen and to be recognized, and these award shows are made for them.”
Jane Campion received the Cinematic Imagery Award at the show, honoring excellent production design in her film “The Power of the Dog.” In an acceptance speech delivered via video, she used the opportunity to advocate for production designers to be recognized at the Oscars.
“I want to take this moment to express particularly how important production designers are to create any good film,” she said. “I don’t know what their reasons were, it’s hard for any directors to understand that choice.”
Their comments come as criticism of the abbreviated broadcast continues to mount from all sides. Will Packer, who is producing this year’s Oscars, recently defended his strategy by saying “nobody is going to be shortchanged by this decision to try to make the show more efficient, expedited, and make more people watch the show.”
The Academy Awards will be broadcast on ABC on Sunday, March 27.