LOS ANGELES — Following fierce blowback from its own members over changes to this year’s Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will once again present all 23 awards categories live during the 2023 telecast.
Academy Chief Executive Bill Kramer confirmed to Variety on Tuesday that the upcoming show will return to its traditional format after eight less-starry Oscar categories were trimmed from the live telecast in March, sparking widespread anger among the organization’s rank and file.
“We are committed to having a show that celebrates the artisans, the arts and sciences and the collaborative nature of moviemaking,” Kramer told Variety. “This is very much what the mission of the Academy is, and I am very hopeful that we can do a show that celebrates all components of moviemaking in an entertaining and engaging way.”
In a bid to trim the often-bloated show to under three hours, the academy presented eight below-the-line and short-film categories off-air before the start of the most recent live telecast. The winners’ speeches in the affected categories — film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design and sound, as well as the three short-film categories — were later edited into the broadcast in truncated form.
In the run-up to the show, the ratings-seeking gambit was blasted as an offense to cinema by some of the industry’s most prominent figures, including Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve and Guillermo del Toro.
In an open letter, 70 prominent film professionals — including James Cameron, John Williams and former academy governor Kathleen Kennedy — blasted the plan, saying it would do “irreparable damage” to the Oscars’ reputation by treating some of film’s most vital craftspeople as “second-class citizens.”
The experiment ultimately failed, with the show clocking in a 3 hours and 40 minutes, leaving many members embittered. In a statement following the Oscars, the American Cinema Editors society said, “We feel cheated, insulted and angry by the way our art was deemed superfluous in favor of bloated performances and spectacle.”
Since taking the reins of the academy in June, Kramer has held numerous discussions with members and fellow academy leaders, making clear his own desire to bring all awards categories back to the live telecast.
Speaking to a roundtable of reporters in August, Kramer said, “We want to see all disciplines equitably acknowledged on the show. That is our goal. There are many ways to do that. And we’re working that through with ABC right now.”
In recent years, the academy has been under growing pressure from ABC, its longtime broadcast partner, to reverse the Oscars’ steep ratings slide. Bolstered by the controversy surrounding Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, this year’s show drew an average of 16.6 million viewers, a rise of 60% from 2021’s pandemic-dampened telecast but still the second-lowest viewership in the show’s history.
The 95th Academy Awards will be held on March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre, with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for the third time following back-to-back stints in 2017 and 2018.