The Oscars Is Adding a New Category for ‘Popular Film,’ Whatever That Means
“And the Academy Award for Outstanding Popular Film goes to…” is an actual sentence you will hear during next year’s Oscars.
The Academy announced some major changes coming to the awards ceremony. In an email sent to Academy members on Wednesday, and published by The Hollywood Reporter, the AMPAS revealed three majors changes, from a shortened length of the telecast to the biggest and already most controversial change: the addition of a new category “for outstanding achievement in popular film.” What exactly does that mean, you ask? No idea!
Is this an lazy way to give a Marvel movie an Oscar? (“Here Black Panther, have this fake Oscar instead of the real nomination you deserve!”) Will the Academy be awarding the most memed film of the year? The one that caused the most debate across Film Twitter? Doesn’t this inherently suggest every other film outside that category is “unpopular”? If something has Oscar buzz throughout awards season, is it now only “popular” and ineligible for other categories? And in our chaotic and increasingly scary digital culture where conversations around movies can often be controlled by angry and toxic fan bases (*cough* Star Wars), this doesn’t sound like a great idea. Not to mention, if people are voting on how popular a movie is, then evaluations of quality are totally thrown out the window.
The specific requirements for the new category have yet to be revealed, but the AMPAS letter notes more details will soon be announced. It sure feels like the Oscars is turning into the MTV Movie Awards. But wait, there’s more news. The letter states that future Oscars will be edited to a three-hour broadcast to make the show “more accessible.” Here’s how it’s described in the letter:
To honor all 24 award 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.
As great as that sounds for those of us who would like to go to bed at a decent hour on Oscar Sunday, the fact that certain categories will be nixed from the aired show is a huge disappointment. One can only guess this means the technical categories will be the first to go. Who cares about the crew members behind the camera who worked tirelessly to make these movies!
The third change is the date for the 2020 Oscars, which has been pushed up to February 9, 2020. Next year’s awards will remain on the same date, airing on Sunday, February 24, 2019. Stay tuned as more details on how the new popular film category will work.