If, like a lot of the public, you’ve always considered the Oscars to be somewhat snobby or too focused on niche areas of film, then we’ve got some interesting news for you. The Academy are introducing a brand new category to celebrate the accomplishments of popular movies, seeing a shift away from the usual Oscar-bait.
The awards have been heavily criticised in the past for seemingly ignoring the public consensus regarding the years cinema, opting instead to internalise the opinions of the upper-echelons of the industry, who have been known to be out-of-touch with popular-opinion.
The move appears to be a response to the dominance that the Marvel and other comic book movies have had over the box office over the last decade, making their popularity clear as day; but apart from a few exceptions, they have largely missed out on nods for Hollywood’s most prestigious prize. Just this year, we’ve had two of the most ambitious mainstream outings in recent history in the form of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (the biggest crossover movie event ever) and more saliently ‘Black Panther’ – a landmark achievement in black representation.
On the face of it, this seems like a positive step-forward, but the news hasn’t come without its share of criticism. First of all, the term “popular film” raises some questions, like what is a “popular” film? Does it describe the usual slate of summer blockbusters and familiar properties? Or is it judged by box office numbers? Either way, there are some movies which transcend the phrase. For example, 2017’s “Get Out”, which was a relatively small movie in terms of budget and marketing, but blew up into a monumental success, grossing $255 million dollars.
The most damming criticism however, is that this move seems to highlight the Academy’s view that the achievements in more mainstream, wide appealing films are in someway less valuable than the vague and pretentious works that tend to fair well at the awards, causing them to be relegated to their own Mickey Mouse category, rather than being given a fair crack at competing in the big debates. While the move was clearly made with sincere intentions, you can’t deny that there is an element of disdain in the way it comes across. So much so, that studios might not even endorse the award or celebrate it as a true achievement.
This isn’t the only Oscars news coming out of Hollywood. Five months after the lowest-rated telecasted Academy Award ceremony ever, it has also been announced that – an attempt to streamline the event into a more entertaining three-hour spectacle – less popular awards will be distributed during commercial breaks. This has been done to lessen the potential lulls that often occur during these kinds of shows. It is currently unclear which categories will be relegated to the adverts interval, as yet.
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
Only time will tell if these changes will breath new life into the struggling Academy Awards, that have resorted to Donald Trump vitriol on the last two occasions, in turn, damaging the awards and alienating the audience.
Unfortunately, we will have the wait until the 91st show in 2019 to find out if these changes will make any difference to the dwindling numbers watching the Oscars in recent years.
Story by Nathan Warby
Featured Photo Credit: Forbes