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Richard Linklater Says Oscars Should ‘Get More Hardcore’: ‘Don’t Pander, Don’t Cut Categories’

"Don’t cut categories and say, 'Well, nobody cares who edits.' Bullsh*t."

Director Richard Linklater arrives for the world premiere of "Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood" during the South by Southwest Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

Richard Linklater

Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

Oscar-nominated writer-director Richard Linklater has a very specific wish for the Academy Awards: Stop being soft.

The “Dazed and Confused” filmmaker explained that the Oscars are at a turning point, one that leans into the popular vote and one that truly honors film history.

“I wish they’d get more hardcore,” Linklater told The Daily Beast. “There were two ways to go, and instead of reaching out to a younger audience, just get more rigorous. Don’t pander. Don’t cut categories and say, ‘Well, nobody cares who edits.’ Bullshit. The industry should! And they do. But that’s been going on for a while.”

Linklater continued, “They took away the Lifetime Achievement Award. You’d see Satyajit Ray or Robert Altman, and they’d be a part of it, and it was a highlight to see the aging filmmaker come up and get their honorary Oscar. It was a beautiful moment and usually, the person would die the next year, so it was almost a curse. But to me, that was one of my favorite moments, and they said, no, we’ll just kick that to the Governors Awards.”

The direction in which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences seems to be moving makes Linklater even rethink his membership. “I’ve been a member forever and I’m proud of it, but I don’t give a… you know… I think most people have a weird ambivalence and attraction at the same time,” he added.

And, similar to the Academy Awards, Linklater shared his split opinions on streamers versus theaters. Linklater’s latest film, “Apollo 10 1/2: Space Age Childhood,” premiered at 2022 SXSW before streaming on Netflix.

“Obviously, every filmmaker loves film — and we love seeing films in the theater,” Linklater said. “I have a theater and the Austin Film Society means everything to me. But there’s only a handful of filmmakers who can say, oh, I would never do that! People who really dictate those terms. But I’m an indie guy and we’ve always had to adjust, and make it work.”

To Linklater, the survival of theaters depends on those willing to buy tickets.

“It feels like we’ve been fighting this for a while, but it’s really on the audience. If the adult-ish audience don’t want to go to a theater — that audience is the most cautious, and the most challenging to get into the theater in the first place. It’s just demographics,” Linklater summed up. “I do think that audience prefers Netflix, but I don’t know. I’ll miss theatrical as the sole place where people took chances on things.”

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