While accepting the Filmmaking Achievement Award at the Hollywood Critics Association Awards on February 28, the “Nightmare Alley” director called out the Academy’s decision to pre-tape eight categories ahead of the March 27 ceremony.
“If any year was the year to think about it, this is not the year not to hear their names live at the Oscars. This is the year to sing and do it live,” del Toro said in his speech. “2021 was a fucking great year for movies.”
The categories that will be pre-recorded include documentary short, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short, and sound; at this stage, the awards will be doled out at 4 p.m., before the ceremony, and then integrated into the broadcast.
The audience during the Los Angeles awards included Oscar-contending filmmakers Denis Villeneuve, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Sian Heder. “We do them together and people make them with us. They risk everything and make the day a miracle,” del Toro said in recognition of the collaborative nature of the art form.
Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is nominated for four Academy Awards — including Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Production Design — at the 94th Oscars, which will air live from Dolby Theatre on March 27.
The decision to pre-tape select crafts and short film categories was announced on February 22 via email by Academy president David Rubin.
Per Rubin’s email, the rationale is “to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant,” emphasizing that “all the nominees in ALL awards categories will be identified on-air and ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured on the live broadcast. Every awarded filmmaker and artist in every category will still have the celebratory ‘Oscar moment’ they deserve on the stage of the Dolby, facing an enrapt audience.”
Since the announcement, there has been a backlash in Hollywood, with the American Cinema Editors issuing a statement explaining that re-structuring the ceremony “sends a message that some creative disciplines are more vital than others. Nothing could be further from the truth, and all who make movies know this.”
The Set Decorators of America also blasted the decision, saying, “We are all diminished by this action.”