Best Popular Film is being delayed for now at the Oscars, but the academy is going through with its other previously announced changes for next year: shortening the telecast and eliminating categories from the live broadcast.
With the goal of trimming the show down to three hours, six to eight categories will be presented during commercial breaks and those winners’ speeches will then be edited to air later in the broadcast, the academy announced Thursday. The selected categories, which will obviously be below-the-line ones and the shorts, will be rotated every year so that none of the branches feel permanently shunted.
It’s still a bit of a slap in the face to the crafts categories, so often seen as “lesser” categories compared to the marquee ones with bold-faced names. It’s yet another tactic to try to make the show more appealing to casual movie fans to increase ratings. But if the Oscars were truly about honoring filmmaking and not pandering for viewers, then this slight wouldn’t be happening.
But there is precedent for this category relegation: The Tonys have handed out awards during commercial breaks for years. And in recent years, the Critics’ Choice Awards have started to do the same. In 2016, Best Actor winner Casey Affleck called out Critics’ Choice for giving out Best Original Screenplay to his “Manchester by the Sea” writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and “La La Land”‘s Damien Chazelle (it was a tie) off air. “I have to acknowledge that Kenneth Lonergan and Damien Chazelle won Best Original Screenplay, which seems like a funny thing to skip over considering none of us would be here without that, and they probably would write some interesting speeches,” he said to applause.
Don’t be surprised if we hear this type of reproof at the Oscars.