The road to this year’s Academy Awards has been quite a rough one. First, there was a host, then there wasn’t. There were talks of getting another host, then they decided against it. From there, the Academy said they were pulling musical performances and then the big one: they were going to cut the awards for Best Editing and Best Cinematography from the telecast in an effort to shave off time. That didn’t sit well with the masses so they put them back in. That said, Deadline asked actors and filmmakers their thoughts on the changes, this crazy journey to Sunday night’s ceremony and how it will impact tonight’s ceremony and the future of the Oscars.
“It’s interesting… a lot of the time, we think about what might affect a show — but people will still tune in to see what will happen. People will appreciate that,” said Daily Show host Trevor Noah. “There are always going to be changes. The only time we can see whether the changes are right or wrong is after the Oscars.”
Oscar-winning Black Panther production designer Hannah Beachler, who became the first black woman in history to win in the category, hopes that the Academy sees that it is important to recognize all 24 categories. “To quote Mo’nique, ‘when you do clownery the clown comes back to bite’,” she laughs. “When you start fooling around with hard work of people and not recognizing certain bits of the film, then you’re negating the entire film.”
She adds that she is not letting that taking away her shine for her time at the Oscars. “I am honored for all of this — and I am enjoying it.”
Vice producer Kevin Messick agrees with Beachler’s sentiment said that “the most important change that the Academy made was the right one”, referring to the editing and cinematography categories. He was one of the many that signed the petition to bring them back. “As long as everyone is included and no one is off camera, it’s a good thing,” he adds.
April Reign, who was the mind behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015, was attending the ceremony for the first time with her son. She sees the changes are interesting and will inform the future course of the ceremony — but adds that “we’ll see what happens.”
“What I know is that you can’t change the game in the middle of it,” said Reign. “If you are going to make significant changes, you’re going to have to do that in the beginning so that people can get ready for whatever that change is going to be.”
“I think it will change it drastically,” said The Hate U Give star Amandla Stenberg. “It’s opened it up to be a night of inclusivity and different perspectives and I think that will be really refreshing.”
Like Stenberg, actors Meagan Good and Devon Franklin, who chairs the Academy’s subcommittee on Diversity, focused on what good these changes can bring — not only for the Academy but for culture in general. “It shows that people care,” said Franklin to all the talk about the Oscar changs. “It’s a great sign because it shows that award shows are culturally relevant in a way that people thought it wasn’t. We’re going to have to see how the night goes to see what kind of changes we have to made and what needs to be addressed.”
For others, like director Lulu Wang, whose film The Farewell was picked up for a pretty penny at Sundance by A24, the changes to the ceremony still puts things in question about tonight’s ceremony. She looks past the “drama” of the weeks leading up to the Oscars and focuses on the excitement of Barry Jenkins’s film If Beale Street Could Talk being a potential big winner tonight. “I wish there were more female directors – it’s kind of hard to celebrate when there are so many women filmmakers overlooked,” she adds.
Shangela, who appeared in A Star Is Born and was the first drag queen to walk the red carpet at the Oscars, also looks past the drama of the hostless ceremony and is at the Oscars to celebrate her film and being her fabulous self. “It’s my first time at the Oscars and I feel nothing but joy and love all around,” she gushes. “Whether there’s a host or not, I’m just happy to be right here.”