Steven Spielberg has now come forward with his opinions on the Oscar controversy. The Academy’s decision to not include eight (important) categories in the final ceremony has not been taken positively by many leading film personalities. Veteran cinema director has also talked profoundly and emotionally about this issue.
Why Is The Academy Under Fire From Leading Film Personalities?
In February, the Academy president announced that eight categories related to the awards would be pre-recorded and then shown at the live broadcast. This was met with criticism from all over the film fraternity. The most furious and disappointed were the American Cinema Editor’s board of directors and released an official statement which said:
‘We are deeply disappointed by the Academy’s decision to alter the way certain categories, including film editing, will be presented in the Oscars telecast. It sends a message that some creative disciplines are more vital than others. Nothing could be further from the truth and all who make movies know this. As a group of artists wholly dedicated to advancing the art and prestige of film editing, we passionately believe that editing — and all other creative disciplines that are part of the collaborative art of filmmaking — should be treated equally. Our contributions to that collaboration may sometimes appear invisible but they are undeniable. We hope that film editors and other artists affected by this change will be honored and celebrated with the passion, dignity and inclusion they deserve.’
Motion Pictures Sound Editors, Motion Pictures Editors Guild, and the International Cinematographers Guild followed a similar tone and criticized the Academy’s decision.
How Did Steven Spielberg React To This Decision?
Spielberg is a director who cherishes all the arts equally. This is also relevant in his films, he uses the art of sound, edit, makeup/hairstyling, and production design in a way that enhances the film’s overall effect on the audience. Without these tools, even a director like Spielberg would fail to make great cinema. This is why, Steven Spielberg, while talking to Deadline, reacted harshly to the Academy’s decision, he said:
‘I disagree with the decision made by the executive committee. I feel very strongly that this is perhaps the most collaborative medium in the world. All of us make movies together, we become a family where one craft is just as indispensable as the next. I feel that at the Academy Awards there is no above the line, there is no below the line. All of us are on the same line bringing the best of us to tell the best stories we possibly can. And that means for me we should all have a seat at the supper table together live at 5.’
He is obviously concerned about the fact that important tools and aspects of filmmaking have not been given the front seat at the biggest cinema awards. Steven Spielberg’s latest ‘West Side Story‘ is up for seven Oscar nominations, two of which are in Production Design and Sound, two of the eight categories that are being pre-recorded. He also went on to praise the importance of music, editing, and production in his films, and how it made the films so profound:
‘When I look back and I think without John Williams, Jaws would wear dentures. With West Side Story, when Tony is singing ‘Tonight’ with Maria, without Adam Stockhausen (the production designer) he would be singing it on a step-ladder and she would be on the scaffolding, all this on an empty soundstage. Without film editing all my movies would still be in dailies,’- Spielberg pointed out the importance of categories that are being pre-recorded.
Spielberg, being Steven Spielberg, also took to the emotional and exciting side of this decision. He said: ‘We all come together to make magic, and I am sad that we will all not be on live television watching magic happen together. Everybody will have their moment in the limelight. All the winners will be able to be shown with their acceptance speeches, but it’s the idea that we can’t all be there’.
He is obviously pointing towards the dramatic and adrenaline-filled effect of the live broadcast. In this way, the audience also knows how much effort has been put into every aspect of the film, and the film doesn’t just concern itself with the directors and actors. Maybe the directors and actors play just a meager part in the overall magical effect that the audience receives on their part.
The live broadcast of The Oscars will be on March 27, 2022, at 8 pm EST.