According to The New York Times, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced this week it would add a new category. Alarmed by plunging television ratings for Oscars, it will include a category for blockbuster films and shorten the show by giving out some statuettes during commercial breaks.
Yet adding a category for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” put it in a letter to members, could create new problems for the beleaguered organization.
But what if, as John Bailey, the Academy president says, a movie many see as a legitimate best picture contender (like the hit Black Panther) gets a nomination for the populist Oscar but NOT for Best Picture? Hmmm.
According to Yahoo,
“So, this is clearly code for the idea that Black Panther — a movie which broke a lot of box office records, but was socially and politically relevant, too — will probably get nominated for both Best Picture and Best Popular Film, but only win in the new category, allowing the Oscars to have its populist cake and eat its art-house cinema cake, too. All around the internet, most pundits and film critics have caught-on to what seems like an obvious ploy, and a pandering, possibly racist one at that.”
In addition, 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.”
The last show stretched nearly four hours. Now the academy said it would present “select categories” during commercial breaks, with the winning moments edited and aired during the broadcast.
Another change, not until 2020, twill be that the telecast will be held earlier in the year. In recent years wards season has stretched to four solid months of ceremonies and by we get to the Oscars, it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion who will win what
The new addition of a category for blockbusters was immediately trashed by some prominent film critics. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called the changes
“stupid, insulting and pathetically desperate.”
Social media is suggesting other categories that might draw in more viewers, maybe hottest onscreen kiss or best stunts.
John Bailey, president of the Academy, wrote Wednesday:
“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our academy relevant. We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”
No matter what your view, the Oscars had record low of 26.5 million people watching this year, a nearly 20 percent drop from last year. Four years ago, the Academy Awards had an audience of 43.7 million viewers.
The Oscar TV telecast is a BIG biz, generating 83% of the academy’s $148 million annual budget. ABC has broadcast rights for the show until 2028 at a cost of roughly $75 million a year and was asking as much as $2.8 million per 30-second commercial for this year’s show.
According to the Times,
In 2009, the academy tried to make room for more widely seen films by doubling the number of potential nominees for the best-picture award to 10 from five. That shift occurred after “The Dark Knight,” a critically acclaimed superhero film, was shut out of the best-picture category, despite receiving nominations in eight others and winning in two.
But allowing more best-picture nominations did little to solve the problem. For the most part, moviedom’s elite continued to bypass films with large audiences and simply put forward additional niche ones.
One rumpus after another has roiled the academy in recent years. After black actors and films that focused on black characters were overlooked for Oscar nominations in 2015 and 2016, the #OscarsSoWhite social media outcry was so fierce that the academy raced membership changes into effect. There has been progress, but it’s still mostly white and male.
And it didn’t help the show’s reputation in 2017 when the wrong movie, La La Land, was named best picture winner, over the real winner, Moonlight.
The new category will make its debut at the next Oscars ceremony, held on Feb. 24 and televised on ABC.
And the Oscar for Best Achievement in Pandering goes to … https://t.co/2U0uRZEh59
— Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) August 8, 2018
I'm mostly looking forward to 2019 when the Academy introduces a new category for Outstanding Achievement in Hottest Onscreen Kiss
— Adam Sternbergh (@sternbergh) August 8, 2018
Just give Black Panther 'Best Picture' you cowards. https://t.co/RZFnKlyvQW
— Dan Olson (@FoldableHuman) August 8, 2018
It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy's reaction is, "We need to invent something separate…but equal."
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 8, 2018
(via NY Times)