The Academy Awards have been traditionally held as the highest commendation ever to be bestowed on a motion picture by an award-giving body in the US. The iconic gold (-plated) statuette nicknamed “Oscar” that is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was held to be the summit of a movie’s achievement in artistic and technical merit. Nowadays however, the Oscar Awards such as the 90th which took place last March no longer draw much attention due to a rising public perception of the Academy as too “stuffy”. AMPAS has taken that criticism into consideration and will be taking steps to change that image with audiences.
Entertainment Weekly tells us that the Academy has begun taking some significant steps towards bringing their Oscar Awards back in some sort of vogue with the people outside Hollywood and the movie industry. In a statement they issued Wednesday, August 8, AMPAS dropped a bombshell in the creation of a new Oscar category that will first be contested in the 91st Academy Awards this coming 2019. The formal name has not been given but this award will be given in honor of “Popular Achievement in Film”, perhaps meaning box-office blockbusters.
That has been the complaint perhaps by movie-going crowds about the film titles that are nominated and then awarded at the Oscars. It is less likely that an Oscar winner be a movie that made bank in box offices stateside and overseas, with the Academy getting a stereotype for voting “dramatic” motion pictures that prioritize “art” over “selling tickets”. For example, the 90th Awards Best Picture was Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”, but it did not even make $100 million in the box office when it premiered (despite Del Toro being capable of directing films “popular” with moviegoers).
A change in this trend may have been spotted in the advent of “hybrid” movies, those that come across as both blockbusters and Oscar bait. Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” which released February is touted as a culturally-important film for African-American representation (an Academy-grabbing trait), but also broke over a billion at the global box office.
Other steps that AMPAS is taking to make a more “popular-friendly” Oscar Awards in the future includes moving the ceremony to February, earlier in the Hollywood awards season. In addition, any movie that wins the new “popular” picture award will still be eligible for Best Picture. The Academy also hopes to find ways to “liven up” an average three-hour Oscar night to keep the attention of TV audiences so they do not drop the telecast. The 90th Awards, after all, went down in infamy as the least-viewed in Oscar history.
Image courtesy of Flickering Myth