Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Thanking The Academy


This year at the 94th Academy Awards, the Academy decided that, in order to streamline the broadcast and increase viewership, they would pre-record eight of the awards presentations and show them throughout the live ceremony. In doing this, they identified certain categories as less important than others. These categories were Original Score, Sound, Makeup and Hairstyling, Film Editing, Production Design, Documentary Short, Live Action Short, and Animated Short. 

Academy award nominee Tamara Deverell, production designer for “Nightmare Alley”, said, “Demeaning the very crafts, in their most outstanding expressions that make the art of filmmaking worthy of celebration, came as a great disappointment to me.” Deverell was unable to attend the awards ceremony, but says she does not regret missing it “because of the ‘diss’ that my craft was among the ones not properly and equally recognized.”

The art of filmmaking is incredibly collaborative. While the actors and directors tend to garner much of the glory, there is not much they could do without every piece of the puzzle. Without production design, the characters are acting in blank space. Without the score, the story gets lost in silence. Without editing, the film is never made. Not a single category should be treated as less-than because there is a delicate synergy and interdependence between each department.

Nominee Robert Mackenzie compared his experience this year to his experience five years ago when he one the award for Best Sound for his work on “Hacksaw Ridge.” He said “being in the room with all my other filmmaking peers at the moment of that announcement” made the experience life-changing. This year, not only was his category announced before everyone was in the room, but his family was barely able to make it to their seats in time. Mackenzie said this demonstrates the Academy’s “lack of concern” for the pre-taped categories this year.

In pre-recording these categories, the Academy also ended up editing down the winners’ acceptance speeches to save time. When Patrice Vermette accepted his award for his work on “Dune,” the moment was, as Deverell put it, “further diminished by the editing.” Efforts to reduce the length of the program, however, failed. This year’s program ran around three hours and 40 minutes, making it one of the longest running broadcasts. Additionally, viewership was at an all-time low. This means that the disregard for these eight essential branches of filmmaking was completely in vain.

The professional community of the film industry is also not pleased with the change. Over 70 notable film professionals—including previous Oscar winners John Williams, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, and Kathleen Kennedy—expressed their disappointment in the Academy in a letter sent to academy president, David Ruben. They explained how all categories deserve the same recognition and, “To diminish any of these individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters and responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards.”

“I hope this will not be the norm going forward and that the Academy will learn that craft is more important than commercial ratings,” says Deverell, “Personally, I am much less interested in the Oscars as a realistic award for film artistry… it all seems as though it has become a disappointing sham… or maybe it always was…”

Whether or not this will be the norm going forward is still up in the air, but the decision did cause significant controversy among movie-lovers. The use of “#PresentAll23” has made its way around various social media platforms in the days leading up to and after the show aired. 

Simply put, leaving out entire categories from the live broadcast is insulting to the artists involved. The recognition that these artists can get from being featured in a show like the Oscars is one of the few ways to draw the public’s attention to the unsung heroes of the film industry. After all, there is a reason why these eight categories are categories to begin with: movies would be nowhere without them. 


The original story was updated to include information from Robert Mackenzie on May 2nd, 2022.