With criticism in recent years that the Oscars have shunned cinema-goers’ favourites for more niche movies, the Academy Awards have introduced a new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film”.
If the award is incorporated into the next ceremony in 2019, films that are expected to be missing from the Best Picture category – such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – could still earn an award.
However, there’s a little problem with the new category: nobody really likes the idea.
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Why? Firstly, some argue movies nominated in the popular category will be less likely to be shortlisted for Best Picture.
New #Oscars category. Not sure how I feel about this. It’s a way for the Academy to recognize pop films, but also a cop-out not to nominate acclaimed box office winners for Best Picture. Seems like they just want to continue to nominate sleepy, pretentious indy films.
— Ryan Trabuco (@RyanTrabuco) August 8, 2018
I'm sorry, but the Oscars shouldn't need an "Outstanding Popular Film" category when what they could really do is honor worthy films in the Best Picture race. I could just see this being added to honor films like Black Panther, other Marvel movies, etc. So ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/nfX0PuIJhZ
— #GiveGagaTheOscar ⚖️ (@Melissa_Wasser) August 8, 2018
And, for many, this follows the story of the Best Animated, Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film categories that failed to bring more appreciation to these movies.
For instance, before the Best Animated category was introduced in 2002, just one animated movie was nominated for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast (1992). And since 2002? Only two further films have been nominated for the Best Picture award (Up in 2010 and Toy Story 3 in 2011). Movies like Inside Out weren’t in the running for Best Picture despite critical acclaim.
This had led many to argue the new award will simply segregate the films it aims to applaud.
the "popular movie" Oscar is the "best animated movie" all over again.
you know, the one the Academy created so that they wouldn't have to worry about a cartoon about talking animals taking the nod from whatever critical darling is expected to win that year
— Serenity “Gay Auntie” Dee (@sapphixy) August 8, 2018
Personally, this feels like a HUGE step back for genre film. Dark Knight, LOTR, District 9, Get Out, & Shape of Water broke the mindsets that scifi and fantasy could be considered BEST PICTURE. Does this new POPULAR category give snobbier members an out? https://t.co/CeMf7B1Cul
— Meredith Woerner (@MdellW) August 8, 2018
Secondly, how will the Oscars determine what constitutes as popular? Will the nominees solely be based on box office returns? If so, there have been plenty of Best Picture nominees in recent years that were among the top-grossing films (as defined by the best 20 films at the box office).
the Oscars is adding a Best Popular Film category to be determined thru a combination of box office, fan voting, and number of a films costars bullied off social media due to constant death threats from racist trolls
— Matt Oswalt (@MattOswaltVA) August 8, 2018
For instance, last year Dunkirk and Get Out came 14th and 15th at the US box office, but both still picked up a nomination for Best Picture. La La Land, American Sniper, Gravity, American Hustle, The Martian were also top-grossing films in the past five years that received a Best Picture nod.
The addition of "Best Popular Film" bothers me because it implies that A) "Oscar movies" aren't successful at the box office, which is generally untrue, and B) that mass consumption inherently equals awards-worthy merit, which EVERYONE knows it doesn't. #Oscars
— Dylan Brandsema (@SneakyOstrich69) August 8, 2018
I have such mixed feelings about this #Oscars news. Sometimes change is good, but I'm afraid that this changes what may enjoy about the Oscars. Also, why can't "Popular" films also be Best Picture? Hmm.
— Sandra Kitchen (@sandraekitchen) August 8, 2018
Finally, a *popular* movie will stand a chance at an Oscar! pic.twitter.com/YZtTV7z40j
— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) August 8, 2018
So, as best and popular films don’t have to be mutually exclusive, will this new category merely create a second-tier Best Picture?
What makes the Oscars so prestigious is its award categories most especially the coveted BEST PICTURE prize
Adding a "Best Popular Film" is an insult!
It decreases the thrill of which wins the biggest award of the night, the Best Picture!#Oscars
— ?kert? (@kertmacoto) August 8, 2018
And what about slow-burners at the box office? For instance, if the popular film category was in place at the last ceremony, The Greatest Showman wouldn’t have been nominated based on its box office returns at that point, but the movie then went on to take $1.12 billion worldwide.
Problems with the new Oscar category: BEST POPULAR PICTURE. How do you decide what's popular? Boxoffice? What if the film opens in late Dec, like GREATEST SHOWMAN. By time of Oscar noms, it had only grossed $54M, but it went on to gross $435M worldwide. https://t.co/pYHBeId0Ft
— Bob Mondello (@Bob_Mondello) August 9, 2018
Others have pointed out that the Best Picture award was first envisioned to consider a film’s popularity…
In 1930, the Academy ditched Best Unique and Artistic Picture and just went with Outstanding Picture, won by the big budget musical The Broadway Melody. This means the Best Picture Oscar is ALREADY a dumbed-down 'most popular' award. And has been for 87 years.
— Kim Newman (@AnnoDracula) August 8, 2018
And that the problem lies with the Academy voters, rather than film categories:
The point of expanding the Best Picture category was to recognize more popular films (re: The Dark Knight). Maybe focus on improving/diversifying the voting membership and enforcing that voters actually watch movies rather than create new nonsense categories. #Oscars
— Tom (@DarthInternous) August 8, 2018
But hey, you never know, a popular film category could lead to awards the internet is really asking for…
2018: Oscar for Best Popular Film
2020: Oscar for Best Film That's Good For What It Is
2023: Oscar for Most Gif-able Moment
2029: Oscar for Best Film (Based Solely On Trailer Reactions)
2028: Oscar for Most Galaxy Brain Directorial Choice
2113: Oscar for Best Stunt Choreogra
— Pet Cemetry (@BoringDrew) August 8, 2018
2018: oscar for best popular film
2022: oscar for best film that's good for what it is
2024: oscar for best marvel spin-off
2030: oscar for best YouTuber appearance in a movie
— ? (@kukimonge) August 8, 2018