A boycott may be on the cards for this year’s Oscars, after the Academy decided not to broadcast eight of the technical award categories.
Rumors are circling that the nominees for the Best Score category at this year’s Oscars may not attend the ceremony over the decision to cut that category, and many others, from this year’s live broadcast. The 2022 Academy Awards are set to air on Sunday, March 27 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall will share the hosting duties, the first ceremony since 2018 to have an assigned host, and will each take a separate portion, giving it a 3-act structure. Leading the nominations is Janes Campion’s The Power of the Dog with 12, followed closely by Dune with 10.
The decision to cut eight categories from the live broadcast has come as a response to the large decrease in viewership and engagement that has plagued the ceremony in recent years. The 2021 edition drew 9.23 million viewers, a 51% drop from the 18.69 million who tuned in to watch the program the previous year and was an all-time low for the show. The Academy therefore decided not to broadcast the presentation of eight categories; Documentary Short, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Animated Short, Live Action Short, Sound and Score, in order to keep the ceremony under 3 hours. They hope to allow more time for comedy, clips and musical numbers while shortening the ceremony, but the move was not well received. A wide range of industry figures have been vocally critical, with many labelling it as disrespectful.
Now, the backlash might result in a smaller guest list for the ceremony. Variety reports that there are discussions among Hollywood music guilds to ask the nominees for Best Score, including Hans Zimmer and Johnny Greenwood, to boycott. Similarly, the report describes “calls for the directors and other branches to defend the artisans,” hinting that a boycott may extend beyond just those nominated in the non-airing categories.
The Academy was very quick to outline that the awards will still be in the 2022 Oscars broadcast, they just won’t be presented live like the rest, but this is unlikely to stem the rage. Controversy is nothing new for the Oscars. In 2016, the #Oscarssowhite campaign highlighted the complete lack of racially diverse nominees in that year’s selection, and in 2017, the wrong winner was announced for Best Picture. Both of these examples caused huge uproars, and it is likely to be the same for this year’s shortened ceremony. Perhaps the only way in which the Academy will actually listen to those who value the technical categories is in the case of the boycott, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see these threats carried out.
This is already looking like a difficult year for the Oscars. On top of the decision to remove the eight categories, there is also the introduction of the controversial Fan Favorite award, which has drawn criticism for being not only redundant, but also widening the gulf between mainstream and artistic cinema. A boycott looks increasingly likely and may just be the shot in the arm the Academy needs to change what is clearly a dying institution.
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