Oscar Winners Speak Out on Category Cuts at Oscars

Oscar Winners Speak Out on Category Cuts at Oscars

“Dune” cinematographer Greig Fraser and editor Joe Walker were among those who spoke out about the Academy’s decision to cut eight categories from the live telecast at Sunday’s Oscars.

Notably, despite promising the category winners would have their moments, the speeches shown during the live ceremony were edited. The speech transcripts made available to press also reflected the edited speeches.

Earlier this week, dozens of sound designers, engineers and mixers signed a petition challenging the move to award the sound Oscar during its pre-telecast hour on Sunday. As threatened, guild members wore their badges upside down as a form of silent protest.

In the press room after winning the cinematography Oscar, Fraser, whose category was shown in main part of the show, said, “Everybody in this crowd realizes why this happens, we understand the economics. I just want my particular collaborators, the production design, editing, makeup and hair people to be equally rewarded for their jobs.”

Walker, who won for editing “Dune,” said, “I feel strongly that that was a disservice to our eight categories that were not televised live. The original statue of the Oscar has five reels — five circles that represent the five branches of the Academy as it started and they are equal size and strength.”

But few winners wanted to break the celebratory mood by complaining too much. Ben Proudfoot, director of documentary short winner “The Queen of Basketball,” said backstage, said he wanted to focus on the film’s subject, the late Lucy Harris, and honoring her, “I was squarely focused on that, and I’ll also continue to voice my concerns on behalf of the short documentary that there’s no perceived difference in importance. There’s nothing less or small just because it’s short. And I think Lucy Harris’s family would agree.”

Meanwhile, the best makeup and hairstyling winners Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh applauded “Eyes of Tammy Faye” star Jessica Chastain for making a point of being at the pre-show.

While the Academy had said all of the eight categories’ winners’ speeches would be shown in full on the main broadcast, in fact only Riz Ahmed’s speech was shown when “The Long Goodbye” won for live action short, while co-director Aneil Karia’s speech was only heard during the pre-show.

Alberto Mielgo, animated short winner for “The Windshield Wiper,” said a lot of his friends weren’t even watching since they didn’t know if they’d see them on TV. “I hope that this is the last year that they do that. I hope that the Academy decides rather than the TV network.”

The plea to present all 23 categories live during the ceremony has continued since the controversial announcement was made in February. In a Variety artisans special report, five craftspeople shared their dismay over how the ceremony is being executed. Filmmakers James Cameron, Jane Campion and Guillermo Del Toro have also spoken out about the reformatting decision.

Producer Will Packer on Thursday defended the choice to restructure the show. During the Academy press conference with the creative team, Packer said, “Everybody on this stage values every last category, every last area. These are our peers. These are the people that we work with and people that we love, and we want to make sure that everybody has their moment on this show and is handled with the same reverence and elegance that you’ve come to expect with the Oscars.” He added, “One of the misperceptions is that things are being taken off the show and that’s not the case, it’s not.”

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