Motion Picture Academy Elects A New 'Dark Horse' President

John Bailey, longtime cinematographer, was elected to a one-year term Tuesday evening.
Posted at 11:00 PM, Aug 09, 2017

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a new president — and he has a lot to live up to.

Longtime cinematographer John Bailey was voted in Tuesday night in a surprise victory. Variety called him a "dark horse winner," but Bailey does have the filmography and experience to back up his win.

Bailey has served on the Academy's board of governors for 14 years and has worked as a cinematographer since 1972. His most famous work includes films such as "Groundhog Day," "American Gigolo" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

Bailey will be the first cinematographer since George Stevens to hold the position. Both of his Academy leadership positions are unpaid but carry a lot of weight in the entertainment industry.

Despite Bailey's credentials, followers of the election were surprised the presumed favorite, actress Laura Dern, didn't win. Back in April, Variety reported Dern was considering running for Academy office, and fans were quick to support that choice. If she had won, she would have been the fourth woman in history to hold the position, as well as the first actress since Bette Davis.

But Dern didn't lose the presidency — she just didn't want it.

After working on "Big Little Lies," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Twin Peaks," Dern probably wouldn't have been able to balance acting with a full-time role at the Academy. So she reportedly didn't even run. 

The race was then down to Bailey and casting director David Rubin. According to The Los Angeles Times, the vote "wasn't contentious," and the former candidate won.

Bailey will be succeeding former Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first person of color to lead the Academy. She was most notably at the helm of the Academy's diversity campaigns, which aim to double the number of women and minorities in the Academy by 2020. Bailey is inheriting those efforts. 

Another issue Bailey will have to tackle as president: falling ratings for the Academy Awards. Last year, the Oscars saw a 4 percent drop in viewership from the previous year. 

Bailey's presidency starts Wednesday. He'll have one year to make an impression before he's up for election again.