The Oscars would be incomplete without its constant controversies. On August 8, the Academy delivered yet again by announcing that a new category for ‘popular films’ would be added to the Oscars: “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.”
While this may seem at first glance a nice gesture to blockbuster films which would otherwise be snubbed at the Oscars, this only showcases just how blind the Academy is to public desire.
According to a statement released by the Academy, “In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.” Disconcertingly, this is the only statement that has been released on the matter. There is no explanation on how exactly the award will be chosen, whether it be box office performance, critic reviews, or some combination thereof. By not releasing the criteria of the award to the public, the Academy is boxing itself in and dooming its future selections.
Taking last year for example, Oscars snubs included “Wonder Woman,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” all of which were some of the most popular films of the past year. “Wonder Woman,” for example, received a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes yet failed to be even considered for an Oscars nomination; although “Star Wars” was able to.
There is no indication of the voting process; although it seems evident that the members of the Academy will vote on the award, as is the case with other awards. This raises the question of nominations that are not popular amongst the general public. It is halfway through 2018, and several contenders have already arisen: “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Mission Impossible: Fallout,” “A Quiet Place,” “Incredibles 2,” and “Deadpool 2,” for starters.
If “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” follows the same format as “Best Picture,” then over half the nominations are already secured. If “Black Panther” were to not receive a selection, even if the nine nominees are more popular, the pre-existing popularity of “Black Panther” would prove a problem for the Academy.
That is the root of the problem: this award, while certainly having been created in well spirits, will only cause harm to the Oscars. There will be more than nine popular movies this year, and although discourse over the years for lack of perceived deserved nominations is nothing new (Robert Downey Jr., Tom Cruise, “The LEGO Batman movie”), the fact that this award is supposed to represent public popularity will make the ire that much more loud. The Academy should get rid of this category, or they will suffer the wrath of public outcry every March.