The Death of Art: The Academy Introduces “Best Popular Film”
The 90th Academy Award in 2018 had hit its lowest viewing with an average of 26.5 million views, which is a drop from the previous years of 32.9 million. In an attempt to make the Academy Awards more entertaining and to increase ratings, the Board of Governors for the organization have just announced three key changes.
In a message to the Academy members, CEO Dawn Hudson and President John Bailey wrote:
Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast. The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.
Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast
We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category
We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars
The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this change seriously.
We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.
John Bailey and Dawn Hudson
With this announcement by the Academy Awards, many film critics and movie fanatics are more focused on the new category, “Best Popular Film,” and how it is insulting to the creatives behind a movie and the movie itself. Twitter has been the hotspot for all the controversy—some call it “lazy,” while others are already making bets on Black Panther winning the new category.
The category for “Best Popular Film” attempts to bring blockbuster fans to view the telecast in hopes to raise ratings, but really it raises questions on the line between money and art in the film industry. For instance, if a movie is a blockbuster hit and wins an Oscar for the “Best Popular Film,” then does that mean it is not prestigious enough to win for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Sound, etc.? Does this also mean that movies that win Best Picture are not successful because they are not blockbuster hits?
Although, could this new category open avenues for more genre-based categories? Could there now be a “Best Horror,” Best Comedy,” or even “Best Action?” Would it eventually escalate in their attempt to get more ratings to “Best On-Screen Chemistry?” Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point.
If anything, the consideration for new categories can open avenues to recognizing more talent, if not already recognized, with a win or nomination at the Academy Awards. While many creatives behind and in front of the camera aren’t necessarily always looking for some prestigious recognition (and hopefully are more invested in the craft of visual storytelling), it doesn’t mean that they don’t want it, they just don’t need it.
If the new category added has been officially cemented and the Board of the Academy doesn’t retract it, then there isn’t any surprise who will be nominated and most likely to win “Best Popular Film” based on the current box office ratings—if this how they are determining the eligibility for the category that is. Currently, the top three at the box office are: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Incredibles 2. It is obvious that the Incredibles 2 will be nominated for Best Animation (can it be nominated for both?), so then it’s really a battle between Black Panthers and Avengers: Infinity Wars—both outcomes still have the Marvel Cinematic Universe winning. Perhaps Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or A Quiet Place may possibly sweep in and steal the title.
Nevertheless, the changes to the Academy Awards is happening, and as of now, the “Best Popular Film” category remains intact with Black Panther being the clear favorite.
Who do you think will win as “Best Popular?”