Starting in 2020, Sci-Tech Awards Presentation Will Happen in June

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) today acknowledged the controversy over its new award designed to recognize achievements in “popular” filmmaking and announced that the award will not be given in 2019.

News about the new category had already seemed to be backfiring, as word spread that Disney was pushing Black Panther for Best Picture consideration, rather than settling for Best Popular Film. That may have vexed Academy leadership, since Disney’s ABC, which airs the Oscar telecast, had pushed for the new category, according to Variety report, and the $1.3-billion-grossing Black Panther was widely perceived as exactly the kind of film it would benefit.

“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” said AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson in  a prepared statement. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Other announced changes, including the new decision to present “six to eight” traditional Oscar categories — out of 24 total — during commercial breaks, with “winning moments” included later in the broadcast, will go ahead as planned in 2019. That move is part of an attempt to limit the program’s running time to three hours, but it will almost certainly engender bad feelings in some quarters, minimizing the importance of certain craft categories to the overall presentation.

The Academy also announced that, beginning in 2020, the Scientific and Technical Awards will be moved out of Oscar season entirely and will be given out in June.

The 91st Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, February 24, 2019 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

Kennedy, Levy, Marshall, Schifrin and Tyson Named for Governors Awards

In other AMPAS news, the Academy said publicist Martin Levy, composer Lalo Schifrin and actress Cicely Tyson will receive Honorary Awards and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Awards at the Academy’s 10th Annual Governors Awards.

The Honorary Award is an Oscar recognizing “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” The Thalberg is a bust of Thalberg himself, who was the head of production at MGM from 1925, when he was 26, until his death in 1936 at the age of 37. It honors producers “whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion-picture production.”

It’s about time: Kathleen Kennedy will be the first woman to receive the Thalberg Award, according to AMPAS.

“Choosing the honorees for its awards each year is the happiest of all the Board of Governors’ work,” said AMPAS President John Bailey in a prepared statement. “And this year, its selection of five iconic artists was made with universal acclaim by the Academy’s 54 spirited governors.”

The presentation is set for Sunday, November 18, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.