Oscar’s Greatest Mistakes: IN MEMORIAM

Image via ABC/The Oscars

There are three main traditions shared by almost every Oscar telecast viewer. First, there is filling out a ballot to see if you can predict the winners. Second, make catty comments about what people are wearing. And finally, complain about who was snubbed during the “IN MEMORIAM” segment.

The reason why that third option is a yearly tradition is because there are snubs each and every year. Sometimes it is big names, sometimes small, but there are always people who should be in the clip package that aren’t. It is an odious and insulting practice. But this year’s tribute to the dearly departed goes way beyond the pale.

Here is a short, but in no way complete list of people who could not make it on air for the “IN MEMORIAM” tribute.

  • Anne Heche: who starred in the Oscar nominated Donnie Brasco and Wag the Dog
  • Cindy Williams: who starred in the Oscar nominated American Graffiti and The Conversation
  • Tom Sizemore: who starred in the Oscar nominated Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down
  • Leslie Jordan: who starred in the Oscar nominated The Help
  • Paul Sorvino: who starred in the Oscar nominated Goodfellas and Nixon
  • Charlbi Dean: who starred in Triangle of Sadness, which was a Best Picture nominee that very night.

I don’t think that this is a controversial opinion, but all the above actors deserved to be in the filmed package that aired during the ceremony. Seldom has there been as big a list of well-known actors that were snubbed.

In other years, the conventional wisdom was that any snub was simply one of inadvertent omission. “How could they forget so and so?'”, etc. But this year, that myth was proven to be a lie. This year, after the video package ended, they flashed a QR code that would take you to a webpage that would list all the deceased Hollywood icons they didn’t think were worthy of screen time.

This goes beyond just being insulting. It enters into the realm of travesty.

You’d think that any family members of the people snubbed this way would be upset. And you would be 100% right, Paul Sorvino’s widow, Dee Dee Sorvino, has asked the Academy for an apology. Sorvino’s daughter, Mira, went to Twitter to air her disappointment.

Of course, The Academy was quick to act. No, not to issue an apology. To issue the most weaselly of weaselly explanations ever to come out of Hollywood. Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter:

Executive producers for this year’s Oscars, Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, told The Hollywood Reporter that they were not involved in the selection process for the segment. A spokesperson for The Academy then clarified that the “committee that makes In Memoriam decisions features a representative from each of the organization’s 17 branches, and some names that are more familiar to audiences cannot be included because all branches are entitled to representation during the limited time allotted for the segment.”

This is one amazing statement. I mean, it was constructed by a human being that you’d think was smart enough to master the basic human motor skills, probably run past a number of other super geniuses at the Academy, and then released because all those rocket scientists actually thought it was an appropriate reason why the snubs happened.

It’s not. Not in any way whatsoever.

I know what they are trying to spin here. They are trying to say that a Sophie’s Choice had to be made because there simply wasn’t time enough to include all the people who passed away in the year prior. Yet, they have almost two minutes to dedicate to the celebration of Warner Brothers 100th anniversary that was merely a thinly veiled ad for the studios’ upcoming projects.  Also, another two minutes to honor Disney’s 100th anniversary that was an even less thinly veiled ad for its live action The Little Mermaid remake. Not to mention over two minutes of Jimmy Kimmel doing an insipid comedy bit where he asked audience members viewer questions.

Any of those bits could have been sacrificed (and Kimmel’s bit should have been sacrificed) to make sure all the departed from all branches of the industry could get the respect they deserved.

Granted, the site lists 274 individuals who have passed away in the last year. The telecast managed to fit in 58 people in the 4 minutes and 17 seconds film montage. But that was with about a minute the title cards being on screen in the version posted on that Oscar site above and some slides featuring two people and others featuring one, including a card added at the end devoted to a former president of the Academy. Yes, Paul Sorvino didn’t get snubbed so Nick Bosustow and Clayton Pinney could be included, he was cut because the Academy wanted Walter Mirisch to have a slide all by his lonesome to close out the presentation. This makes their statement playing off the snubs as an egalitarian attempt to honor all 17 branches and not turning the segment into a popularity contest even more unctuous. It isn’t a popularity contest, unless it’s a former Academy president then all bets are off.

Image via The Oscars/ABC

With more judicious editing and extra time added by cutting those other bits, all 274 people lost in the past year could have been included. The Academy just doesn’t care enough to do the mental gymnastics to make that happen.

So, I offer a modest proposal to the Academy. Stop doing the ‘IN MEMORIAM” segment. Don’t ever do it again. That would certainly save you time issues. Because honoring the dead should be an all or nothing kind of thing. This is not the first time I suggested this. But I am serious about this. The Academy treats the segment like it is an onerous suckage of time. If honoring your dead co-workers is so much of a pain in the ass, go back to the way it was prior to 1993 and just not do one.

This isn’t likely to happen because while the Academy producers would be happy to see “IN MEMORIUM” go way, the members of those 17 branches might not feel the same way. So, here is an alternate modest proposal: hire TCM to do your “IN MEMORIUM” feature. Every year, they do a “TCM Remembers” segment dedicated to the people who died in the last calendar year. The 2022 version managed to fit 77 people into the same run time that the Academy could only manage 58. And each one of the TCM Remembers is classy and respectful. You get the feeling that TCM puts some care and concern into their memoriam. Since the Academy doesn’t seem to care at all, let TCM take over.

Because the Academy’s mangling of their “IN MEMORIAM” package has got to stop. What is supposed to honor the creative people who have left us since the last telecast instead insults their survivors with arbitrary time limits and cruel omissions.

Avatar für Bill Gatevackes
About Bill Gatevackes 2029 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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