In the run-up to this year’s Oscars ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a controversial call. It was announced that awards in eight categories would be given out prior to the telecast, and while the goal of the move was to try and address the annual complaint regarding the show running too long, it earned boos and hisses from movie-fans around the globe – with filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve and Steven Spielberg calling out the decision as disrespectful to key parts of the craft.
Now that the telecast is actually airing, however, the decision has gone from being anger-inducing to super confusing. This is because the awards and acceptance speeches are still playing during the ceremony, albeit airing as moderately edited pre-recorded bits that are played on a screen to the audience in the room for the live show.
It’s possible that what we’re seeing is some kind of compromise resulting from the Academy’s response to the backlash… but it ultimately just doesn’t make any sense. If the whole point of the big change was to try and reduce the runtime of the ceremony, it’s hard to see how this does that. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, it can’t be saving all that much time per award. It just creates awkward transitions and edits.
Only making the situation even stranger/stupider is the fact that the move has also had a backfire effect against the campaign to have the Oscars appeal to more “fan-friendly” films. Of the five feature-centric awards that were given out prior to this year’s Oscars ceremony, four of them went to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune – one of the highest grossing titles of all the movies nominated in multiple categories this year. The sci-fi blockbuster has won for Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design… and the way that audiences are seeing those trophies handed out is supremely awkward.
The other categories being given this bizarre treatment are Best Makeup & Hairstyling (won by Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye), Best Live Action Short Film (The Long Goodbye), Best Animated Short Film (The Windshield Wiper), and Best Documentary Short Subject (The Queen of Basketball).
Given the mess that the idea to “cut” categories at the Oscars has become, hopefully this will be the last time that we see it happen, and in 2023 all of the awards will be presented the traditional way during the telecast. The decision has certainly not benefitted the show in anyway (any time saved by the move feels like it is being spent on unfunny bits and performances of songs that aren’t nominated), and it’s proving to not be an experiment worth repeating.
Keep track of the show as it continues to unfold via our 2022 Academy Award Winners feature, which is being updated live. And if you’re looking for a way to watch the ceremony before it’s over, we have a guide for that.