Oscars add new category for ‘popular film,’ but what does that mean?

Oscars add new category for ‘popular film,’ but what does that mean?

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Here's an idea: Just NOMINATE THEM FOR OSCARS.
Here’s an idea: Just NOMINATE THEM FOR OSCARS.

Image: matt kennedy/marvel/disney

2017%2f04%2f25%2f1f%2fpkheadshotsmallcopy.7f1bcBy Proma Khosla

The Oscars are getting a shakeup in 2019, starting with a strict three-hour time limit and a new category to honor popular film. 

This could be huge for beloved blockbusters ranging from the MCU to the Wizarding World – but it also says a lot about how the Academy views popular films and their place in the industry’s biggest night.

SEE ALSO: Emmys 2018: The full list of nominations

Change is coming to the #Oscars. Here’s what you need to know:

– A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.

– We’ve set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9.

– We’re planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast. pic.twitter.com/oKTwjV1Qv9

— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 8, 2018

The most intriguing part of this – not marking my calendar for 2020 yet, sorry – is the one about “popular film.” Using the word “popular” is itself puzzling. Who and what determines popularity? The People’s Choice Awards already exist, and most “popular” films already get one award: money.

Our guess is that box office has everything to do with it, and that this category is effectively a way for the film industry at large to honor giants like Star Wars and the MCU for pumping billions of dollars into movies. The Oscars have been consistently criticized for failing to honor such films outside of visual effects. 

This is both a cop-out of honoring blockbuster filmmaking for its growing standards, and a ploy to entice fans of those movies to watch the Oscars when they ordinarily wouldn’t. If you want to reward these movies, don’t pay lip service. Nominate Ryan Coogler for Best Director or ask Chris Hemsworth to host. Keep diversifying the Academy to dilute the number of members operating under archaic notions of what an Oscar movie might look like.

Furthermore, “popular” and “Oscar-worthy” are not mutually exclusive – even based on Academy precedent, with profitable titles like Avatar, Titanic, and the entire original Lord of the Rings trilogy taking home multiple Academy Awards.

“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” a statement sent to Academy members on August 7 reads. “The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”

In conclusion:

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