The Academy’s “Popular Film” category flops

It was in early August that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced they would be making some big changes to the Oscars. These changes included arranging the Oscars to be a shorter ceremony by announcing some awards during the commercial breaks and introducing a new award category honoring achievement in popular film.

Many people assumed the introduction of this Popular Film category was in response to the release of the “Black Panther” Marvel film, which was very successful at the box office this year. The introduction of this new award category immediately received backlash from social media and prominent people in the film industry. Due to this backlash, it came as no surprise to me when the Academy announced a month later that it would withdraw the decision to present a Popular Film category. The Academy stated the consideration requires further discussion. Indeed, it certainly does require further discussion.

I understand the Academy’s reasoning for including a new award that recognizes movies like the Marvel series or the “Jurassic World “series, which are movies many people watch. The box office already recognizes the popularity of movies such as this series, while the oscars are meant to award movies for their artistry. I don’t think the world is ready for a Popular Film category as there has also already been a lot of controversy surrounding its introduction.

First of all, it is no secret the Oscars have been out of touch with the popular crowd. It seems fewer people every year are switching on their television to watch the Oscars. This is not a good sign for the Academy as the Oscar telecast is their main source of revenue. There is also the problem of the type of films being awarded at the Oscars. Certainly these films are special as they are works of art, like “The Shape of Water” which won Best Picture last year. However, a lot more people went to see the Marvel movie “Black Panther” than “The Shape of Water”. It comes down to the fact that a lot of people just haven’t watched the movies that the Oscars gives awards to.

The Academy certainly recognized this dilemma and tried to introduce the Popular Film category in an effort to recapture the public’s attention. Yet, the public was alarmed by another question: if a movie like “Black Panther” received a nomination for best Popular Film, could it still be nominated for Best Overall Picture? Would the Popular Film category be inferior to the Best Picture category? The negative comments that have arisen in response to the Popular Film category, as well as to the Academy’s quick slashing of the idea, prove the public is not ready for this new award. If the Academy were to introduce the Popular Film category again in the future, careful thought must be put into how the category would fit into the Oscars ceremony in order to satisfy the public.

Larasati Kettner ’21 ( is from Falls Church, Va. Her major is nursing.

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