2022 Oscars Controversy May Lead To Nominees Boycotting The Awards

Do you ever get the feeling that the folks in charge of the biggest movie awards show of the year ... don't actually like movies all that much? Admittedly, that's a gross oversimplification of a much larger and more complicated conversation (hint: the keyword has something to do with "ratings"), but the end result of mishandling Oscars night is sadly the same: those already invested in the Academy Awards feel alienated, the pomp and prestige of the night inevitably become diluted, and, worst of all, the actual talent meant to be celebrated and recognized on the largest stage end up slighted.

If anyone needs a brief rundown of the Oscars highlights (read: lowlights) in the last few weeks, I've got you covered. First came the highly questionable decision to integrate fan-voting into the ceremony, giving the internet the opportunity to band together and send the people's choice for their most favorite movie of 2021 to the Oscars in the form of, well, probably the definition of the dreaded "participation trophy." The move was likely motivated by the desire to give the biggest movie of last year, "Spider-Man: No Way Home," some semblance of recognition after allegedly "snubbing" the wildly popular (and profitable) superhero flick for a Best Picture nomination — though, hilariously enough, it looks like the power of internet stans had vaulted the unexpected dark horse "Cinderella" into the lead

Then came the utterly shortsighted choice to only require vaccinations and proof of negative COVID-19 tests for nominees and their guests, but not for actual performers and presenters. Start speculating about which big names must have refused to get the shot and forced the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to fold up faster than I do when attempting to play poker.

But what about the straw that finally seems to have broken the camel's back? That "honor" goes to the recent news that, in an effort to trim down the runtime of the lengthy ceremony for television broadcasts, certain awards categories will not be announced live, leading to an instant and predictable wave of backlash from, well, pretty much everybody. And now, according to reports, that backlash may just curdle into calls for full-blown boycotts involving some of the biggest talent, and the Academy will have nobody to blame but themselves. Read on for all the sordid details.

Well, this was probably inevitable

As my third-grade teacher would always say (hi Mrs. Thornton, if you're reading this!): "Think of the consequences."

It doesn't seem terribly likely that the Academy fully thought through what might happen as a result of yet another attempt to shorten the Oscars ceremony by disrespecting certain awards categories by not broadcasting them live. These categories include Film Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Animated/Doc/Live Action Short Film, and Sound. 

Now, Variety has the details on tentative plans among those who are part of the music branch to request that the nominees for Best Original Score show their displeasure by threatening to boycott the ceremony altogether. The nominees aren't exactly unknown names, either: Nicholas Britell (for "Don't Look Up"), Germaine Franco ("Encanto"), Alberto Iglesias ("Parallel Mothers"), Jonny Greenwood ("The Power of the Dog"), and, most notably, Hans Zimmer ("Dune"). Additionally, the report also indicates that,

"There are also calls for the directors and other branches to defend the artisans in all of these categories."

What a disaster. I don't exactly envy whoever was tasked with deciding which categories were "unimportant" enough to merit being filmed ahead of time and edited into the broadcast at later points, but aren't these categories some of the most integral ones when it comes to making movies? All I can say is I wish I had as much confidence in my own work as the person(s) who decided that they could afford the risk of putting another Oscar win for Hans Zimmer, of all people, on a delay.

Thankfully, there's still time for the Academy to reverse course on this boneheaded decision. If they haven't quite reached that point yet, maybe they'll listen to reason from other writers and critics who've summed up the situation far more eloquently than I could, like Bilge Ebiri over at Vulture.

For better or worse, we're only a little more than a month away from the Oscars airing on ABC during the evening of March 27, 2022.