The Academy Awards have had a few major criticisms throughout the years. The telecast of the Oscars ceremony is far too long (sometimes three to four hours long) and it also includes awards few people really care about. As a result, the award show’s ratings have taken a huge hit. So in order to address these issues, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors have announced what appears to be the worst possible solutions. The telecast runtime will be cut down and there will be a new “Popular Film” award category. And as you can guess, people aren’t too thrilled about this. More on the story below.
Per THR, these moves are being made in order to make the show more accessible to audiences. So, they will be cutting down the awards show broadcast to a maximum of three hours. What this means is, we’ll see a reduction in how many awards are handed out on air. There are a total of 24 awards that are given to winners throughout the ceremony. While these awards won’t be cut out from the ceremony itself, “the winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.”
What I liked about the inclusion of smaller awards is that audiences got to see the efforts that are put into something like sound editing and sound design. So taking the spotlight away from those winners is a bit disappointing, as their work should be recognized as much as a director or best actor. Of course, one solution to that problem is maybe cutting down on the time for an acceptance speech. But then again, that may be the only time an artist can bring an important issue to the public. Other ways they could cut down on time is maybe a shorter cold opening or less montage pieces. Basically, taking away time from other artists is not the right answer to the Oscars’ ongoing problem.
As for the Popular Film Oscar, which is being dubbed the “Popcorn Oscar,” THR says it is unlikely that would actually help bring ratings numbers up. If anything, it actually hurts the film’s chances of getting other awards it actually deserves, and turns it into an MTV Awards type of win. Take for instance Black Panther. That film was already in the running for Academy Awards long before today’s announcement. Now some are saying that the popular award will likely eliminate the Marvel film’s chances of getting nominated for standard categories because the Academy can just simply give out the popular award to it.
And it’s not clear how a winner for Popular Film will be determined and what qualifies it as popular. Will the public vote for it? Does a film have to have a huge box office earning to qualify? All this does is take away from the smaller films. Not necessarily indies, but the ones that don’t shoot for box office glory. And does a major studio tentpole film need to be recognized when its box office numbers are already proof of popularity? Basically, the award itself feels like a participation trophy. Or, just a prop to draw in audiences that would normally not bother to tune into the Oscars.
So maybe there shouldn’t be a lazy popular award, but rather one that recognizes the efforts that have gone unnoticed. I think Angie Han of Mashable said it best in this tweet:
Finally, the date for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards in 2020 has been moved from February 23 to February 9, 2020.
The next ceremony, the 91st Annual Academy Awards, which honors the films of 2018, will air on ABC on February 24, 2019. This ceremony will reportedly include the Popular Film award category.