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Academy of Motion Picture Has Lost Its Identity

The+91st+Academy+Awards+will+be+held+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+24.
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Academy of Motion Picture Has Lost Its Identity

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Photo taken from Variety

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Photo taken from Variety

Photo taken from Variety

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

By Chris Beauchamp, Sage Creek High School

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Before I begin with this discussion, this piece is a statement and opinion on the current status of the Academy of Motion Picture. This is in no way directed towards the art of cinema but towards the current Academy and the decisions that have been made (and undone). With all that being said, let’s begin.

In August 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture announced a couple of brand-new changes towards their show and nominee system on their Twitter page. The one glaring announcement came in the form of the brand-new category: Achievement in popular film. At the time, the academy failed to provide clear reasons and qualifications for the category being implemented. The announcement was met with outrage from many critics and journalists in the entertainment industry.

Photo taken from The Chronicle website
Kevin Hart is the most talked-about and most controversial host for the Academy. He was offered to come back as host, but Hart declined the offer after the backlash.

Most notably, actor Rob Lowe went on Twitter to express his outrage towards this decision. In September 2018, after many forms of anger and frustration from the majority in the industry, the Academy announced to postpone the introduction of the ‘popular film’ category. To this day, we have yet to hear what this category would have entailed if it had gone through.

On Dec. 4, 2018, comedian and actor Kevin Hart was announced to host the 2019 Academy Awards. The following day, “The Guardian” editor Benjamin Lee resurfaced some of Hart’s old tweets, which were jokes in reference to homophobia. Because of this, Hart announced on Dec. 7 that he would be stepping down as the host due to not wanting to be a distraction on the night of the ceremony. This year, in January, the Academy made the decision of moving forward without a host. Sources claim that the Academy’s first choice as a host was none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson passed on the opportunity due to scheduling conflicts at the time.

voices from around the world from many within this industry have been heard”

On Jan. 24, Variety reported that the Academy will only have two live performances from the five nominees on the live broadcast. These two would be “All The Stars” from “Black Panther” and “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” Once again, outrage was met with this decision; particularly from Lin Manuel Miranda, who co-starred in the multiple-nominated project “Mary Poppins Returns.” Miranda, like Rob Lowe, went online to express his view towards the decision made by the Academy. Just like the popular film category, the Academy backtracked on their decision and will now have all five nominated songs performed on the live telecast. But, the biggest mistake of them all came this past week.

On Feb. 11, the Academy revealed that four categories would be presented during commercial breaks. The four categories would be Film Editing, Cinematography, Live Action Short and Makeup and Hair Styling. This was met with the most intense backlash from directors, actors, screenwriters and even nominees for the upcoming show. The most notable reactions from this decision came from “Roma” director Alfonso Cuaron and actor Seth Rogen.

Two days after the announcement, The American Society of Cinematographers released an open letter, signed by many within the film industry, that details why this decision should never have been made. Many of these names include Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese,  Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Damien Chazelle, Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, Alfonso Cuaron and many more.

On Feb. 15, just like most of the decisions they have made, the Academy reversed their decision once again and has decided to scrap the commercial break plan. Now, all 24 categories will be presented on the live broadcast.

As a student filmmaker, a supporter of the independent industry and a person who has a deep love for the art itself, I, too, stand with the majority. I personally have been disappointed and shocked by the decisions that the Academy has made in the past couple of months.

The 91st Academy Awards will air on Sunday, Feb. 24. It has also been recently confirmed that Queen will be performing at this year’s show.

The idea of having four categories presented off-air is, for lack of better words, ridiculous and disgraceful to the entire show and to what it stands for. The show is meant to be a platform to showcase excellence in the arts of filmmaking from the previous year. It is not meant to appeal to the viewer as it is to the industry itself. The idea of having two of the most vital components to film production — Film Editing and Cinematography — presented off-air makes this, in my eyes, the worst decision made so far from the Academy.

Also, as someone who creates Live Action Shorts, I understand the importance and value of creating them. It’s our way of expressing our art and is our own format of presenting them. If those who have been nominated were not going to be honored and given the same respect as any other category, how do you expect their voices to be heard on the biggest night of the year in the entertainment industry?

Thankfully, voices from around the world from many within this industry have been heard. Let’s all hope that the Academy has recognized its mistakes in decision-making and will move forward from here.

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

This story was originally published on The Sage on February 22, 2019.

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