In a move which is sure to piss off genuine cinephiles and people who’ve already booked tickets to see The Meg, the folks who throw the Oscars every year have announced the Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film category will debut in 2019.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences revealed the change overnight, saying eligibility criteria is yet to be determined.
The new award seems to have been created in response to the decade-long surge in superhero blockbusters. The Academy has honoured those films for their technical achievements, but have been largely ignored them in other categories.
It also suggests that films which achieve box office success and provide a progressive, exciting take on a well-worn genre – filks like Marvel’s Black Panther – are more likely to get their due.
But some critics have suggested the Popular Film category will serve as little more than a dumping ground for flicks which just aren’t high brow enough for The Academy’s taste, despite overwhelming critical acclaim.
For Variety, Kristopher Tapley writes “Now here comes the Academy, establishing a corner to which voters can banish this and other films like it with a pat on the head and a ‘thanks for playing.'”
Yes, blockbusters like Argo, Slumdog Millionaire, and Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King have won the Best Picture award in living memory, but recent winners have leaned towards artier territory – and if Spotlight wasn’t so good in 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road should have cleaned up.
In a statement, The Academy said films can be eligible for both the Popular Film and the Best Picture awards, but here’s our solution: forget the Popular Film award and establish the Mad Max: Fury Road category so it can win every single year. Problem solved.
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Image: Black Panther / Marvel