The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have made a few tweaks to the Oscars this year, and one in particular is not sitting well with people. The Achievement in Popular Film category will essentially give an Oscar to the film that performed the best, which many believe is a direct result of Black Panther’s popularity. While it may not necessarily be an Oscar contender, it was a critical and financial success, and films of the like will now have an opportunity to bring home an award. There are a number of issues with this, which were laid out ny The Los Angeles Times:
(1) The highly malleable definition of “popular,” a term that can describe anything from a cinematic genre (musicals, comedies, westerns) to a billion-dollar box-office bracket.
(2) The notion that critically acclaimed hits and recent best picture winners like “The Shape of Water” and “Spotlight” are somehow niche achievements.
(3) The canard that box-office performance is a pure, unadulterated measure of an audience’s love for a movie.
(4) The contradiction of trying to shorten the telecast by adding an award, at the likely expense of a technical category that actually deserves the airtime.
(5) The delusion that moviegoers who don’t care about the Oscars are suddenly going to tune in to see if “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” can pull off a stunning upset over “Avengers: Infinity War.”
(6) The unmistakable sense that the academy is pre-emptively panicking over the possibility that “Black Panther,” the zeitgeist movie of 2018, is going to get shut out of the best picture race.
There are other changes as well, such as pre-taped award presentations and a hard three=hour time limit. Well, according to Variety, the changes were ordered by ABC as a result of falling ratings in the telecast. There are a number of things that could’ve been tweaked to make the telecast more accessible to viewers, but the this new category will likely not help. Our guess is that the Popular category won’t be around terribly long.