The Academy Awards recently decided to drop several categories and the decision was not well received. Anyone who has worked on a movie set understands how important composers, production designers, editors, and other craftspeople are to the success of a film. Now, a powerful group of Oscar winners and industry heavyweights has banded together to push the Academy to award those individuals their due.
Director James Cameron, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Lili Fini Zanuck, and composer John Williams have all joined the rising chorus of voices urging the Academy to reverse direction and present all 23 Oscars on the live March 27 show. The Academy’s decision to exclude eight categories from the broadcast on February 22 drew immediate criticism, which has only grown louder as the show approaches.
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 those individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters, responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards. Seeking new audiences by making the telecast more entertaining is a laudable and important goal, but this cannot be achieved by demeaning the very crafts that, in their most outstanding expressions, make the art of filmmaking worthy of celebration.
Original soundtrack, film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound, documentary short, live-action short, and animated short are among the eight categories. The Academy continues to insist on announcing the candidates in certain categories and airing the winner’s acceptance speech in edited form as part of the three-hour ABC presentation.
More than three dozen composers have signed on as well. The signees include Oscar winners Howard Shore, Dave Grusin, Alexandre Desplat, Steven Price, Hildur Gunadóttir, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, and Jan Kaczmarek; past Oscar nominees John Debney, George Fenton, Nicholas Britell, Terence Blanchard, Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard, David Newman, Dustin O’Halloran, Volker Bertelmann, John Powell, and Alan Silvestri; and Emmy winner Ramin Djawadi.
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