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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Oscars risk irrelevance by making streaming-only films awards-eligible

Oscars ceremony in Hollywood
Workers touch up a giant Oscar statue on the red carpet entrance at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 23, 2016.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As much as I am saddened by your stance on allowing streaming films to compete for Oscars, I understand that it is inevitable. Yet I think you neglected an important point in your editorial.

Since the beginning of the Academy Awards, it has always been possible for moviegoers, if they made the effort, to see the films in the competition. And that is one reason why the awards have retained importance in the cultural landscape.

If streaming films not released to theaters are suddenly eligible, it will be impossible for the average moviegoer to see many of the movies unless they subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO and who knows what else.

We should be opening up the world of cinema to more people, not fewer — especially when it will mean even fewer reasons to watch a three-hour awards show broadcast.

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Doug List, Glendale

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To the editor: Your editorial elevated “compelling storytelling” as a quality that makes a movie great, but when listing examples of noteworthy films — “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Shining” and “Vertigo” — you used the director’s possessive to identify the films, not once mentioning the writers (both novelists and screenwriters).

“Lawrence of Arabia” came to screens thanks to the book by T.E. Lawrence, which was adapted by screenwriters Robert Bolt and the blacklisted Michael Wilson. “The Shining” came from the mind of prolific novelist Stephen King, whose book was adapted by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, with Kubric directing. “Vertigo” is based on the novel “D’entre les morts” by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, which was adapted by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor.

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I’ve never understood why newspaper writers forget to name screenwriters when discussing movies. It seems an absurd example of internalized artistic oppression.

How can I be able to teach up-and-coming screenwriters their own value if journalists keep naming films as the property of the directors?

Rosanne Welch, Van Nuys

The writer is executive director of Stephens College’s master of fine arts program in TV and screenwriting.

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To the editor: I am old enough to remember when TVs were the size of three-by-five cards. I never thought that we would return to those days of yesteryear and that you would write favorably of people watching Oscar-nominated films on their smartphones.

I live on a fixed income and, therefore, do not have the resources to pay for HBO, Netflix and the other assorted streaming options. Your editorial on the Oscars as well as the Calendar section’s recommendations for TV shows during the pandemic simply leave folks like me out of the equation.

This is just another reason to skip the awards shows (when they come).

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E. T. Howe, Santa Barbara


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