US movie editors ask Academy to rethink cut categories
America’s film editors have come together with production designers, set designers and more in a show of solidarity to push the Academy for inclusivity ahead of the 2023 Oscars.
The release of a video statement that opens with a quote from director Francis Ford Coppola, “The essence of cinema is editing,” editors addressed the Academy’s decision to drop eight categories from the main show and pre-record the Golden Hour winning speeches.
The message was direct: “We feel cheated, insulted and angry at the way our art has been deemed redundant in favor of bloated performance and spectacle. As they implored other trades to join the call, they asked that in future their voice be included in the conversation: “Give us a voice in this process. Let’s work together to find a solution that truly honors cinema and ensures this never happens again.
Ahead of the Oscars, it was announced that the awards for Documentary Shorts, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Animated Shorts, live action and sound would be the relevant categories.
As shock and outrage were felt, Variety led a “Variety Craftsmen: Special Report” virtual panel that dug into why AMPAS’ telecast decision was so profound. Sound editor Randy Thom was joined by editor Myron Kerstein, nominated for “Tick, Tick…Boom!”; head of the hair department Mia Neal, Oscar winner for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in 2020; editor and composer John Ottman, who won the editing award for “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 2019; and director, nominee and eventual winner of the documentary short for “The Queen of Basketball”. The highly decorated artisans also took the time to share their thoughts on how their craft specialties contribute to the collaborative work of filmmaking.
Ottman called the decision offensive, while Thom said he was deeply offended.
The video statement reflects the sentiment of the more than 1,000 ACE members who expressed to the ACE Board of Directors that they felt that film editing was not treated with the dignity it deserved and that these artists were treated as second-class citizens and denied the celebratory experience that other winners had.
Their speeches were truncated. Editor Joe Walker’s speech was cut. His full speech cheered on his kids who had to do schoolwork while listening to him edit “Dune.”
The ACE statement also noted that many editors felt the show itself was plagued with jerky transitions and awkward cutaways during the categories involved, only highlighting the odd and insulting circumstances in which these winners have been submitted. ACE hopes to add its voice to find a solution so that future ceremonies reflect a more inclusive and meaningful celebration of cinema.