Though the outer goal of something like the Academy Awards is to honor major achievements in the world of film, at its inner core, the Oscars is a business. With the introduction of this new Popular Movie category, you'd think that film buffs would be happy about this right? It's not unrealistic to say that people watching at home might care more for the Best Actor award, as opposed to something like Best Film Editing.
John Bailey, the newly reelected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and film Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in an email to members Wednesday morning that the Board of Governors met Tuesday night to approve the changes, which also included bumping the 2020 ceremony up to February 9.
The Academy is still working out details like what qualifies as "popular". Among the changes made were an earlier broadcast date (moving them from March to February), a cap to the length of the ceremony being three hours, presenting some awards during the commercial breaks and showcasing the winners in a montage during the night and, the most controversial, creating a Best Popular Film category.
Gregory Ellwood, the editor-at-large of The Playlist, noted that in the past decade there have been a significant number of $100 million-plus earners nominated for best picture, like "Gravity", "Dunkirk", "GASAt Out", "Toy Story 3", "The Help", and the "The Revenant", and some of which went on to win, like "Argo", "The King's Speech", and "Slumdog Millionaire".
The introduction to the "Best Popular Movie" category is a slap in the face to movie lovers everywhere.
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In recent years, the Academy Awards have continuously suffered from low ratings. "Here comes the Academy, establishing a corner to which voters can banish (Black Panther) and other films like it with a pat on the head and a "'thanks for playing'".
There are exceptions, of course, like when "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won Best Picture in 2003, or win "Annie Hall" did the same in 1977.
The award will take effect from 2020 so there will probably be no awards yet although it seems fans are already listing films that are worthy of receiving the award in this category. "My favorite joke that I've seen on Twitter concerning this issue was by somebody who quipped that had this category only been implemented sooner, Adam Sandler would have had 15 Oscars by now".