So the Internet is talking about the Oscars. Specifically, they’re talking about a controversial decision to present an award for “Achievement in Popular Film” in addition to the regular Best Picture Oscar.
It’s still up in the air as to what constitutes a “popular” movie and The Hollywood Reporter has a great piece articulating all the potential logistic issues with that. It seems to me though that the general intention of the Academy is to shrink the disconnect between its members and the general movie-going public. The logic seems to be “if our telecast features all these Star Wars and superhero movies that everyone likes, people will be more likely to care about our awards and tune into the ceremony.”
I will say I think the Academy’s heart is in the right place. It’s always been a little irksome to me how many awesome movies are never recognized by the Academy simply because they’re not the Academy’s type. Personally, I think a better solution would be to introduce genre categories. For example, there are Grammys for Best Country Album, Best Rock Album, Best Rap Album, etc. in addition to an overall Album of the Year award. Likewise there could be Oscars for Best Comedy, Best Horror, Best Action, Best Sci-Fi, etc. in addition to a Best Picture Award.
I have some issues with this whole “popular” thing though. There’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg issue because most years, there are a fair number of films that become more popular precisely because they are nominated for an Oscar. One of the more positive things about the awards is that they encourage audiences to go out and see smaller indie films that never would have had such a large audience without their nominations. Now, those small indie films may have to compete for screens with the popular movie nominees.