James Cameron, John Williams join growing chorus denouncing Oscars ceremony changes

Add massive Hollywood legends like Oscar winner James Cameron and John Williams as well as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to the list of people denouncing the academy’s decision to shift the winner results for eight Oscars categories into a pre-broadcast ceremony.

We the undersigned urge you in the strongest possible terms, along with your colleagues on the Awards Committee, to reverse your decision to remove the presentation of eight awards categories from the live telecast of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, including Best Original Score, Film Editing, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, Documentary Short Subject and both Live Action and Animated Short Film,” read an open letter to academy president David Rubin signed by Cameron, Williams, Kennedy, and numerous other high profile members of the Hollywood community. 

“For nearly a century, the Academy Awards has represented the gold standard in recognizing and honoring all of the essential crafts in filmmaking.  Now, as we approach the Oscars’ 100th year, we are deeply troubled that this gold standard is being tarnished by valuing some filmmaking disciplines over others and relegating those others to the status of second-class citizen,” the letter, which was obtained by Variety, continued. “Critical artistic crafts like music scoring, film editing, production design, makeup, hairstyling, and sound will always deserve the same respect and recognition as crafts like acting, directing, and visual effects. To diminish any of these individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters and responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards.”

Last month, the academy announced eight categories – including score, film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound, documentary short, live-action short, and animated short – were being removed from the live broadcast in an effort to cut down on the show’s length and goose sagging television ratings. The results of those eight categories will be announced in the hour before the Oscars telecast starts, and the winners’ speeches will be edited down and folded into the broadcast throughout the night. The academy previously tried to do something similar before the 91st Oscars, but strong pushback from the Hollywood community forced the group and its broadcast partner, ABC, to scrap the idea. Despite the open letter signed by Cameron and Williams – as well as current nominees like composer Nicholas Britell and director-producer Guillermo Del Toro – it seems unlikely the Oscars will change course at this stage, with the show less than three weeks away.

The open letter is the latest shot at the academy, coming on the heels of critical commentary from directors Jane Campion, Denis Villeneuve, and Steven Spielberg, all of whom spoke out against the production tweak. “I disagree with the decision made by the executive committee. I feel very strongly that this is perhaps the most collaborative medium in the world,” Spielberg said.

The 2022 Oscars take place on Sunday, March 27. Read the full letter at Variety.

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