The Oscars had everyone talking on Sunday night, but not always in a good way.
In a new interview with Variety, ABC executive VP Rob Mills talked about the award show’s controversial moments, including ending with Best Actress and Actor instead of Best Picture.
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“It was not meant to end on somebody who was not present,” Mills said, referring to Anthony Hopkins’ absentee win over the wider predicted win of the late Chadwick Boseman. “It was a calculated risk, that I think still paid off because everybody was talking about it. Similarly, nobody wants the wrong envelope to happen, like it did three years ago, but everyone was talking about it. I think some people thought maybe they missed some awards. ‘Why is best picture early?’ or, ‘What’s happening, this is crazy,’ almost like, ‘How can this possibly happen? Best picture has to end it!’ Some people were upset, some people loved it and that was really the point that there was no apathy.”
When it was pointed out that the show’s shocking ending did prove that producers really don’t know who the winners will be before they’re announced, Mills said, “Although imagine that they did, and they still did that. That would have been very bold.”
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But the category switcheroo wasn’t the only point of contention amongst viewers. Many took issue with the In Memoriam tribute, which seemed speedier than usual.
“The in memoriam is always a tough nut to crack,” Mills said. “This year we chose to focus on honouring those who we have lost rather than a performance. Once a song was chosen, they timed the pace to the tempo.”
Some also criticized the show for its relative lack of clips from the nominated films, with clips shown only before the Best Picture, International Film and Animated Film categories.
“When you look at the award show length and you look at the previous award shows, that’s one place where time really adds up,” Mills explained. “It’s in clips. The producers really wanted to tell exactly what somebody does, what an art director does or what sound design is, as opposed to playing another clip for movies.”