The Academy announced on Monday that it was removing four categories from the live Oscar telecast

By Helen Murphy
February 14, 2019 01:58 PM
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More celebrities are speaking out against the Academy’s decision to present four categories at the upcoming 91st the Oscars during commercial breaks — including acclaimed directors Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee, as well as actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Banks, Peter Dinklage and Kerry Washington.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, all were part of a larger group of a-listers (including Oscar-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle and Seth Rogen) who signed an open letter to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (the organization that runs the Oscars) on Wednesday. In the letter, they call the move “nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.”

The Academy announced on Monday it was removing four categories from the live telecast on Feb. 24 and presenting them during commercial breaks: cinematography, film editing, makeup/hairstyling and live action short. Edited versions of the winners’ speeches will air later in the broadcast on ABC.

“We consider this abbreviation and potential censorship to run contrary to the spirit of the Academy’s mission,” the letter read.

“When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it,” the letter continues, “then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form.”

Martin Scorsese; Quentin Tarantino; Spike Lee
Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage; Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock; Steve Granitz/WireImage

The Academy responded to the letter on Wednesday night, releasing a statement that said “no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”

These filmmakers aren’t the only celebrities to speak out. On Tuesday, actor Russell Crowe, who won a Best Actor Oscar in 2001 for Gladiator, slammed the Academy for the decision in a tweet

“The Academy is removing cinematography, editing and make up from the televised show?” he wrote. “This is just such a fundamentally stupid decision, I’m not even going to be bothered trying to be a smart arse about it. It’s just too f—— dumb for words.”

Russell Crowe/Twitter

Alfonso Cuarón also took issue with the Academy in a tweet on Tuesday. (Cuarón won the Oscar for Best Director in 2014 for Gravity. He is nominated in that category again this year for Roma, as well as Best Cinematography, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.)

“In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music,” he tweeted. “No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”

His good friend and fellow Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro agreed, adding, “Reposting, revised: I would not presume to suggest what categories should occur during commercials on Oscars night, but, please: Cinematography & Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical or literary tradition: they are cinema itself.”

Rogen also shared his thoughts, writing, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s job it is to literally film things.”

Josh Gad retweeted Rogen, adding, “Agreed. Not quite sure why the Academy Awards seems to hate the Academy Awards this year.”

The 91st Academy Awards air live on ABC at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24.