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Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:20 am
by John F

Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category, Creating Questions
By Brooks Barnes
Aug. 8, 2018

LOS ANGELES — Alarmed by plunging television ratings for the Academy Awards, the organization behind the Oscars said on Wednesday it would add a category for blockbuster films and shorten the telecast by giving out some statuettes during commercial breaks.

Yet adding a category for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” as John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, put it in a letter to members, could create new problems for the beleaguered organization. What if a movie many see as a legitimate best picture contender — the worldwide smash “Black Panther,” for instance — receives a nomination for the populist Oscar but not for best overall picture? Does that mean “Black Panther” and films like it are second-class citizens?

The letter, co-signed by Dawn Hudson, the academy’s chief executive, did not say what would constitute a “popular” film or whether movies nominated in that category could also be nominated for best picture. (An academy spokeswoman later clarified that they could.) The category will make its debut at the next Oscars ceremony, which will be held on Feb. 24 and televised on ABC.

“Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming,” the letter said. The academy did not respond to a request to interview Ms. Hudson or Mr. Bailey, who was re-elected to a second one-year term as president at a board meeting on Tuesday night.

The academy’s board also voted to keep the telecast to three hours, which it described as an effort to deliver “a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.” To trim the telecast — the last show, in March, stretched nearly four hours — the academy said it would present “select categories” during commercial breaks, with the winning moments edited and aired later during the broadcast.

It did not say which categories could be edged aside. The most likely are the three Oscars presented for short films. Producers hired to shape the annual telecast have long pressed the academy to reduce the number of awards presented on air. (There are now 25.) But academy traditionalists — some of whom have left the board in recent years — always pushed back.

A third change will not take effect until 2020, the academy said. The telecast will be held earlier in the year in an attempt to speed up Hollywood’s awards season, which in recent years has stretched to four solid months of ceremonies. By the time the Oscars roll around, there is little suspense about who will win what, and the honorees themselves have a catatonic look, having been trotted from one awards podium to the next. The change in dates may force other telecasts, including the Grammy Awards, to recalibrate their own positions on the calendar.

The addition of a category for blockbusters was immediately assailed by some prominent film critics. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called the changes “stupid, insulting and pathetically desperate” on Twitter. ... -film.html

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:25 am
by david johnson
I have not watched an Oscars ceremony in many years. It became tedious rather than entertaining. Maybe a new category will help.

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:07 am
by John F
Box office success does not equate to quality, and quality is what the Oscars have always been supposed to be about. Seems to me a blatant grab for TV ratings, hoping that the millions of fans of "Terminator" and "Batman v. Superman" will tune in just in case.

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:54 am
by jbuck919
Many years ago I was a communicating member of IMDB. There was a very intelligent member who ran a series called "rewriting the Oscars." One of the few winners that withstood the test of time was this, which won for best song:

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:46 pm
by John F
Oscars’ New Best Popular Movie Category Is A Spectacularly Bad Idea
By Sam Adams
Aug 09, 2018

Over the past several years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that votes on the Oscars, has made tremendous strides in diversifying its membership. In 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that 91 percent of AMPAS’s 6,000-plus members were white and 76 percent were male, a barely perceptible change from the figures the LAT first reported in 2012. But that year, the academy invited a record new 683 members, a record it went on to break in 2017, and again in 2018, increasing AMPAS’s overall membership by nearly half in a three-year span and doubling the percentage of members who are people of color.

This has represented a tremendous effort to bring sweeping change to one of the world’s most prominent cultural arbiters. And, Wednesday, in one fell swoop, the academy undid it all.

The announcement that the Oscars would be adding an as-yet-unnamed category for “achievement in popular film” was met with near-universal derision, and for good reason. After "The Dark Knight" missed out on a Best Picture nomination in 2009, the academy revamped its rules in an attempt to give blockbuster movies a better shot at the brass ring—not only doubling the potential number of Best Picture slots but switching (back) to a preferential ballot that prevents movies with small but passionate constituencies from sneaking to the front of a crowded pack. But instead of broadening the field, the new system merely deepened it. The idea that potential "Dark Knights" were lingering just out of reach turned out to be false: Instead of a wider range of nominees, we ended up with more of the same. Changing the way the Oscars were voted on didn’t change the results. So the academy decided to change who was voting for them.

Good news! The academy’s newly diverse voting pool did indeed produce a historic result, and not just for the way it happened: The bizarre circumstances under which "Moonlight" was awarded Best Picture only scratched the surface of how unusual its win was. The first Best Picture by a black American director was also the first gay love story and arguably the first outright art film to win since 1969’s "Midnight Cowboy." It’s also the lowest-budget Best Picture winner in recent memory, if not of all time, and the lowest grossing.

It’s the latter that’s the source of the academy’s greatest concern—and, more to the point, ABC’s. Given that the new category was announced alongside changes to the Oscars’ televised broadcast that include a (supposedly) firm three-hour running time and giving some of the lower-wattage awards during commercial breaks, it seemed likely that the network, which has paid for the rights to air the Oscars through 2028, had a heavy hand in the proposed tweaks. And indeed, by day’s end, Variety’s Daniel Holloway was reporting that the changes were the result of a “come-to-Jesus meeting” held after the 2018 broadcast, whose ratings were the worst in the Oscars’ history. The academy could have stood firm, but in the face of trouble with its biggest annual moneymaker, AMPAS’s board caved in, and it did it spectacularly. The Oscars have added new categories before, most recently the award for Best Animated Feature. But there’s a neat, one might even say categorical, distinction between animation and live-action, or documentary, or even foreign-language films. What exactly is a “popular film”? And are the ones that don’t qualify as such … unpopular?

The decision to announce the new category without a name or a list of qualifying characteristics made a bad decision seem even worse, almost to the point of deliberate self-sabotage. Will candidates for Best Popular Picture be determined by budget? By box-office returns? If the latter, is it possible for a movie like "Get Out" or "A Quiet Place" to cross over from one to the other? And if not, will it be analogous to the split between lead and supporting performances, where the line is subject to campaigning and manipulation that sometimes verges on outright fraud? The Academy has said that any movie eligible for Best Pop Pic will also be qualified for Best Picture, but given the Oscars’ propensity for spreading the wealth, the new category is likely to function as an escape valve, a way to demonstrate that voters are in touch with popular taste—i.e., the comic-book movies, sequels, and comic-book movie sequels that now dominate the box office—while remaining otherwise unchanged.

The decision is especially ill-timed given that "Black Panther" was widely expected to earn a Best Picture nomination—that’s Best Picture proper, not a category invented under pressure from a TV network that (checks notes) shares a parent company with Marvel Studios. While the academy hasn’t yet said whether the new category will be in place for next year’s Oscars, the anxiety over "Black Panther’s" potential exclusion is all over its invention. You can practically smell the flop sweat as you read AMPAS’s press release. But if the category is instituted in time and "Black Panther" wins, it will be hard to see it as anything but a second-class victory—the “separate but equal” of Best Picture trophies.

That, ultimately, is where the true insult lies. In order to see Best Pop Pic’s creation as a stain on the academy’s integrity, you would first have to prove that it has any. (The idea that the new category represents a deviation from the Oscars’ dedication to “genuine artistry” is, um—you know this is the award that "The King’s Speech" won, right?) But AMPAS has spent years engaged in a push to include members who better represent the movie industry and the world it occupies, and while it may justifiably trumpet the results of that initiative, the academy’s board has made it clear it doesn’t fully trust that newly diverse membership with the vote for the Oscars’ most important award. There’s something all too familiar about finally letting women and people of color through the academy’s doors and then changing the rules before they’ve even had a chance to make their influence felt. ... rship.html

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:58 am
by John F
Academy Postponing New Popular Oscar Category
by Gregg Kilday

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is postponing the introduction of the new “popular” Oscar category it had intended to introduce at its upcoming 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

The Academy announced Thursday, following a special meeting of the board of governors on Wednesday morning, that it is shelving the idea for the moment and will not launch the proposed new award at the next Oscar show, but it said it will continue to discuss the idea for the new award and "will examine and seek additional input regarding the new category." The announcement explained that implementing the new award nine months into the year "created challenges for films that have already been released." The Academy did not provide any timeline for when further details about the new award might be decided.

“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said Thursday. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Last month, the Academy’s board of governors voted to create the new award, which it said would recognize “outstanding achievement in popular film.” But it did not lay out the criteria or voting process that would be used to determine which films would be eligible and how they would be selected. With awards season currently taking shape as dozens of Oscar hopefuls are introduced at festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, which kicks off its fest Thursday, numerous questions were raised about the proposed award. With studios and distributors drawing up plans for the coming awards season, the Academy was under pressure to set up rules regarding the new category.

While the Academy appeared to still be committed to the new award, even though it said it requires further study, the question will now become whether or not it quietly drops the idea altogether.

Hoping to stem falling ratings for the Oscar broadcast, the Academy is looking for ways to attract the attention of mainstream moviegoers. The new award was seen as a way to guarantee that blockbuster movies, like the Marvel, Star Wars and DC Universe films, as well as surprise hits like A Quiet Place and Crazy Rich Asians, would be assured of air time on the broadcast.

But the announcement of the new award was met with an immediate wave of criticism. "The film business passed away today with the announcement of the 'popular' film Oscar," Rob Lowe tweeted. "It had been in poor health for a number of years. It is survived by sequels, tent-poles, and vertical integration." Critics of the idea variously complained that creating a new Oscar was akin to asking popular films to sit at the kids' table, while others argued it would devalue the eventual winner of the best picture Oscar.

This season, Black Panther was emerging as a possible test case for the new pop Oscar. Undeniably popular — the pic has grossed $1.3 billion worldwide — it has also been critically applauded, earning a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Early handicapping has put it in the running for a best picture nomination, and while the Academy said a film could be eligible in both the best picture and best popular movie categories, some warned that a movie like Black Panther's best picture prospects could be impacted negatively if Academy members were suddenly offered the option of voting for it as best popular film. The pic's star Chadwick Boseman told THR, "There's no campaign [that we are mounting] for popular film; like, if there's a campaign, it's for best picture and that's all there is to it."

Even those who supported the idea of the new Oscar — including those inside the Academy — were hard-pressed to describe the rules and voting process that should be used to decide the winner of the category. ... ry-1140423

Re: Oscars to Add "Popular Film" Category

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:17 pm
by jserraglio
Best Picture: Black Panther

Most Popular (now a hypothetical): Mission: Impossible — Fallout