Oscars Introduces “Best Popular Film” Category

Oscars Introduces “Best Popular Film” Category

An exciting new category that opens up opportunity, or simply a consolation prize?

An exciting new category that opens up opportunity, or simply a consolation prize?

Text: Thomas Chou

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced some official changes to the Oscars this year, most notably being the addition of a “Best Popular Film” category.

While little is known about how the winner of the new category will be determined, many have taken to social media to express feelings of dissatisfaction with the addition of the award.

For some, this new category has been interpreted as a “way out” for the Academy to appease viewers whose favorite box office smash hits may not be considered for “Best Picture”. As the long history of the American award show demonstrates, films that align more with classic drama like “Moonlight”, “The Artist”, and “The Shape of Water” have usurped fan favorites like “Get Out”, “Call Me by Your Name”, and “La La Land” when it comes to the most coveted award of the evening.

In the context of this year’s upcoming award ceremony, many are speculating that “Black Panther” — a film that all but ruled the box office and was received with critical acclaim — will be relegated to the “Best Popular Film” category as opposed to “Best Picture”.

In the wake of the widespread social media movement #OscarsSoWhite that has pointed out implicit racism within the Academy, the controversy surrounding the new category seems expected, if not warranted. As one of the most prestigious ceremonies when it comes to honoring innovation in the world of Hollywood, the Oscars represents an influential force in shaping public opinion towards the art of film. Beyond the compelling storylines and gorgeous visuals of today’s mainstream movies, an element of social criticism has become increasingly pronounced — a facet of film that at times can feel overlooked. Beyond all of the red carpet glamor, celebrity gossip, and feverish excitement that comes with the Oscars, it’s high time that the Academy takes responsibility for its influence.

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