Guillermo del Toro calls out Oscars for changes to live show
While accepting the Filmmaking Achievement Award from the Hollywood Critics Association, Del Toro took the moment to decry the Academy's decision to move eight categories to the hour before the live broadcast and re-edit them into the show.
"We don't do [movies] alone, we do them together, and the people that made them with us, they were risking everything in a pandemic," he said. "If any year was the year to think about, this was not the year not to hear their names live at the Oscars. This is the year to say it — and say it loud."
Del Toro called others in the room to action, encouraging them to speak out against the change. "Many of you that have a voice and that can say it should say, 'We should not do that,' " he continued. "We shouldn't do it this year. We shouldn't do it ever, but this year we are together in this. The art is good. Every time we say something we invoke a whole reality with it, and we must say that this, 2021, was a f---ing great year for movies."
The Oscar winner's remarks came less than 24 hours before the Academy sought to clarify what the changes would entail and mean for the future of the Oscars. Speaking with Deadline, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin attempted to correct any misunderstanding of their proposed changes, which have received significant backlash from many in Hollywood.
"The board has discussed and agreed on the need to make changes to the broadcast, to allow for a celebratory show that also doesn't run well over three hours. That discussion has been ongoing but with more urgency for this year's show," Hudson said. "The decision to show eight categories in our first hour in the Dolby Theatre was the creative solution arrived at by our producers, our officers, and our awards committee. We chose a mix of categories which would then be folded into our live broadcast."
They both stressed that all eight categories will still be celebrated in the live broadcast, further detailing how the changes would work. Rubin clarified that the show officially starts at 4 p.m. PT, an hour earlier than the ABC broadcast at 5 p.m. Astute viewers might note this will likely conflict with red carpet arrivals, as that show will be airing live on ABC concurrently with the categories being pre-recorded.
The Academy sajd they are instituting timed arrivals to the carpet to help ensure there is an audience present to celebrate the nominees and winners of those eight categories. Though one has to assume that some of the biggest stars will likely be in those later carpet slots, as is traditionally the case.
As for the eight categories selected, they explained they were chosen collectively by the producers, AMPAS executives and the awards committee. Hudson and Rubin said they considered many alternatives, including hosting a separate evening of awards as the Emmys do with their annual Creative Arts Emmys. But ultimately, they felt this was the most effective way to maintain the categories as part of the evening, while simultaneously trying to achieve their goal of a three-hour show.
The pre-recorded categories and respective acceptance speeches will be incorporated into the live broadcast with some editing (ironically, one of the categories bumped to that first hour). Exact details are still to be determined, but those shots of winners approaching the stage and digging around for their notes will be the first things to go.
"The creative team and the production team will highlight the moments that count the most, the potent emotional speeches, likely the reaction when a name is called," Rubin explained. "But there's also a lot of that other time, that's involved in getting up onto that stage and finding that piece of paper and just looking to see if it's time to speak. All of that stuff is part of it, but we'll get to the most potent affecting emotional parts of the event."
The Academy previously tried a similar change in 2019 before rescinding it under pressure from a backlash similar to the outcry now. But Rubin insisted they will stay the course this time.
Hudson reiterated that they believe this set-up will still adequately and respectfully celebrate those nominees and winners bumped to the first hour. "We're not losing any of those great moments," she stressed. "The point is we want all those great speeches that you've heard, and all the moving speeches that you heard will be in the Oscar show for all of the categories. And that was important to us. And that's not an easy feat. Maybe people offered other ideas. There were some not including all of the 23 categories and we really pushed that, that was just essential for us."
The Academy did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment on Del Toro's remarks. But whether others of Del Toro's influence join the pushback remains to be seen.
Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.