The Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film (or the Academy Award for Best Popular Film) was a proposed award to be presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It was announced as a new category by the Academy on August 8, 2018.
The following month, AMPAS announced that the award would not be presented at the 91st Academy Awards as planned. It would be postponed to "examine and seek additional input regarding the new category".
|Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film|
|Awarded for||Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film|
|Presented by||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)|
On August 8, 2018, the Academy announced a proposal to establish a new category reflecting outstanding achievements in "popular" film, being the first new category announced since Best Animated Feature Film in 2001. Although no details were provided, media outlets implicated that the category was intended primarily for blockbuster films that had achieved mainstream appeal. Films nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film would also be eligible for Best Picture.
In November 2018, Academy president John Bailey confirmed the award was created in direct response to the Oscars telecast's diminishing television ratings. He hoped it might still be instituted. "Even after a stake was driven through its heart," he said, "there's still interest." He drew a comparison to the separate Best Picture awards presented at the 1st Academy Awards, where Wings won Outstanding Picture and Sunrise won Unique and Artistic Picture.
The announcement of a Popular Film category was met with overwhelmingly negative response from journalists and Academy members. Many viewed it as an attempt to pander to mainstream audiences, in the hopes of increasing annual ratings. The category was criticized for diminishing blockbuster films' chances at receiving a Best Picture nomination. The name of the category was further criticized, with "popular" suggesting that the films nominated in other categories were unpopular or not of interest to mainstream audiences. Bob Chipman at The Escapist noted that the front-runner for the inaugural prize was Black Panther, a film with a predominantly African-American cast and, considering its prominence within African-American culture, would effectively receive a "separate but equal" Best Picture award.
In contrast, Gene Del Vecchio at USA Today supported the category for its potential to recognize blockbuster films and encourage their filmmakers to focus on artistry as well as mainstream appeal. He suggested that a Popular Film category marks a "return to the roots" of the Oscars. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the Best Picture Oscar went to a top-10 box office blockbuster nearly nine times out of ten. Comparatively, Best Picture has not been awarded to a top 10 box office film since 2004.
|Awards of Merit|
Academy Awards lists