And the winner is … not the Academy, apparently.
Oscars’ chiefs have copped fast backlash for their decision to create a new award category for popular film.
Within hours of the announcement, “popular film” was trending on Twitter, and not in a good way, with A-list stars, international movie critics and regular ticket buyers giving it bad reviews.
Time called it an “insult to movie goers” in a scathing online piece.
Variety journalists Meredith Woerner, Stuart Oldham, and Kristopher Tapley slammed the new category as “lazy,” “staggeringly ham-fisted,” and “a huge step back for genre film.”
“So…does that mean that films like Black Panther and Mission Impossible can’t compete for Best Picture?” Oldham asked.
The new category was viewed as an effort to grab a larger audience to the annual broadcast, which will now be limited to a user-friendly three hours, according to the Academy.
It was also criticised as an excuse not to nominate critically-acclaimed box office blockbusters like Black Panther for best picture, but rather relegate them to the popular film award.
Five Came Back author Mark Harris tweeted that the popular film award, “Is a ghetto and will be perceived that way.”
Actor Rob Lowe took to Twitter to condemn the move, saying “The film business passed away today”:
The film business passed away today with the announcement of the “popular” film Oscar. It had been in poor health for a number of years. It is survived by sequels, tent-poles, and vertical integration.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) August 8, 2018
Lowe would not be silenced, jumping back onto the social media platform hours later:
Seriously, this “best pop movie” category is the worst idea the Academy has had since they asked me to sing with Snow White.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) August 9, 2018
Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood was also unhappy, posting simply: “Best popular film? Oof.”
Said one user, “Hey film. Hope you have a great summer. Stay cool!”
Asked another, “Can best non-human performance be far behind?”
The Oscars “are basically creating an attendance award,” said one movie fan.
Another said the award would be determined through a combination of “box office, fan voting and number of a film’s costars bullied off social media due to constant death threats from racist trolls.”
Most Popular Film. Film King and Film Queen. Film Most Likely to Succeed. Film Clown. Most Athletic Film. Cutest Couple of Films. Film of the Party.
— Michael Sicinski (@msicism) August 8, 2018
If one category is Popular Film, then another category has to be Film Nobody Cared About But People Think Talking About It Made Them Sound Smart.
— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) August 8, 2018
But Oscars’ bosses claim they were just trying to breathe new life into the awards.
In a letter to members, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures also said it would present some of the 24 Academy Awards during commercial breaks in the televised broadcast.
The changes, to kick off at the February 2019 ceremony, are a major overhaul for the movie industry’s most prestigious honours.
They follow years of audiences turning off for the Oscars ceremony. His year’s March awards were watched in the US by 26.5 million viewers, the smallest in the history of the 90 year-old Academy Awards.
“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” the board said in the letter, which was shared with media.
“The board of governors took this charge seriously.”
Details of the popular film category would come later, the letter said.
The ceremony often runs close to four hours, but bosses will run a tighter ship from now on, they promised.
“We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide,” the board said.