Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film

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.[1][2][3]

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".[4]

Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film
Awarded forOutstanding Achievement in Popular Film
CountryUnited States
Presented byAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
Websiteoscars.org

History

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.[5] Films nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film would also be eligible for Best Picture.[6]

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.[7]

Reception

The announcement of a Popular Film category was met with overwhelmingly negative response from journalists and Academy members.[8] Many viewed it as an attempt to pander to mainstream audiences, in the hopes of increasing annual ratings.[9][10][11] The category was criticized for diminishing blockbuster films' chances at receiving a Best Picture nomination.[12][13][14] 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.[15] 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.[14]

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.[16]

References

  1. ^ Feinberg, Scott (August 8, 2018). "Oscars Won't Televise All Awards, Adds Popular Film Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 3, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Lang, Brent; Rubin, Rebecca (August 8, 2018). "Academy Adds Popular Film Category, Sets Three-Hour Oscar Broadcast". Variety. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  3. ^ Travis, Ben (August 8, 2018). "Oscars Creating 'Popular Film' Category In Academy Awards Reform". Empire. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Kilday, Gregg (September 6, 2018). "Academy Postponing New Popular Oscar Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 3, 2016. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Lee, Benjamin (August 8, 2018). "Oscars: Academy to add achievement in popular film category". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 19, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  6. ^ Sharf, Zack (August 8, 2018). "Oscars: The Academy Confirms Movies Eligible for Best Popular Film Can Also Compete for Best Picture". IndieWire. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  7. ^ Desta, Yohana (November 13, 2018). "The Best-Popular-Film Oscar Was an Attempt to Save Ratings, Academy President Confirms". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  8. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (August 8, 2018). "Academy Members React to 'Popular' Oscar News: 'The Film Business Passed Away Today'". Variety. Archived from the original on August 26, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  9. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (August 8, 2018). "The Oscars' New 'Popular Film' Category Confirms That Hollywood Thinks We're Stupid". Time. Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  10. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (August 8, 2018). "The Oscars Made Some Dumb Decisions Today". Vulture. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  11. ^ Robey, Tim (August 9, 2018). "The new 'Best Hit' Oscar makes the Academy look desperate, patronising and more out of touch than ever". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Sharf, Zack (August 8, 2018). "Oscars Slammed by Film Journalists for Creating 'Best Popular Film' Category, Especially in the Year of 'Black Panther'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Hamer, Robert (August 13, 2018). "The Academy Awards shot themselves in the foot". CC2K. Archived from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Chipman, Bob (August 20, 2018). "The Big Picture: Polarity Contest". The Escapist. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  15. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (August 9, 2018). "The Oscars' new "popular film" category is a bad idea from a panicked organization". Vox. Archived from the original on August 26, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Del Vecchio, Gene (August 25, 2018). "New Oscar category for best popular film marks a long overdue change in the Academy". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.

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