Oscar nominees Denis Villeneuve and Jane Campion criticize telecast changes

As we get closer to the 94th Oscars, the din of displeasure concerning changes to its broadcast strategy is not going away. As previously reported, the winners in eight categories will not be revealed during the televised portion, but rather in the hour preceding the ceremony when the biggest stars are making their way past interviewers on the red carpet. These acceptances will be quickly edited into the final show, though without the element of tension before the reveal (and perhaps in truncated form). 

At the Art Directors Guild Award held on Friday, Oscar-nominated producer and “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve spoke with reporters and seemed eager to voice his opinion on the matter. “Honestly, I think that the academy’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Villeneuve told Deadline.  

“I think it’s a mistake,” he continued. “And I understand that they’re under tremendous pressure, but I think it isn’t the right decision.”

In addition to his own categories of Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay (shared with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth), “Dune” is up for eight additional awards, seven of which (editing, sound, hair and makeup, costumes, score, and production design) are impacted by the academy’s decision. So he’s got a Shai-Hulud in this fight. 

Villeneuve added that “filmmaking is about teamwork” and said 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.”

The Quebecois filmmaker, whose previous Oscar nominations include a Best Director nod for “Arrival,” then opined that “the Oscars are going through an identity crisis,” and mused that “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Academy Awards. I think everybody is expecting that it will be a long show. Myself, I love it…There’s always bursts of genius. And beautiful moments. Sometimes it’s boring…Every single edition is always its own. It’s part of the show. And listen, we’ll see what happened this year but I think there will be a lot of thought before and after.”

Jane Campion, a front-runner for “The Power of the Dog,” appeared at the event via video, and remarked that “with the recent changes in the format [of] the Oscars I want to take a moment to express particularly how important production design is to creating a good film.” She added that “design is so vital. It’s one of the most important relationships.”

As the controversy continues, veteran sound engineer Tom Fleischman, a five-time nominee with 230 credits to his name (including “The Irishman,” “Foxcatcher,” and “He Got Game”) announced he was quitting the academy over the brouhaha. 

Meanwhile, Oscars producer Will Packer swears that “nobody is going to be shortchanged.”

“All the nominees for all the categories will hear their names in that show. The winner will have their speech. You’ll hear from them in the show. Most viewers will not be able to tell the difference,” he told Variety.

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