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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced their latest idea for improving the Oscars relevancy and ratings. This month, The Academy sent out a tweet that read in part, quote, “a new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.” This is nothing new- in 2009, after the backlash they suffered from failing to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture- the Academy expanded the category to 10 nominees. This worked for a while- Avatar and Inception were both nominated, but ultimately, things reverted back to the mean and big budget films went back to being excluded.
So now, this. An attempt to create an Oscar for popular films. The reaction was swift- the award would be an insult. An also-ran. Perhaps most baffling is the strange insinuation that a popular film can’t win Best Picture, Titanic was popular, Forrest Gump was popular. Not to mention Lord of the Rings, Ben-Hur, West Side Story, Rocky and so many of the award’s winners over the years.
To ignore that history and imply that a popular film operates on a different scale than true film is a sham designed to draw more eyeballs to the ceremony. The only reason a second award would be necessary is because the Academy itself is out of touch. In 2008, The Dark Knight didn’t need a Best Popular Film category to merit a win. The outrage was because it was dismissed for being popular in spite of its quality- honestly, when’s the last time you marveled at the achievement of Frost/Nixon, The Reader or even the winner from that ceremony, Slumdog Millionaire?
Winning an award made to pander to the masses won’t feel as good as truly being recognized for your achievement. The onus is on the Academy to actually recognize the best achievement in film and not hedge their bets with new awards.
I’m Evan Rook.