The Academy announced earlier today the inclusion of “Best Popular Film” or some type of iteration of that title. No one knows what it means, but we can all speculate that it will have something to do with box office in some fashion.
While it feels like a large part of Hollywood died today, we thought it we would paint the picture of what possible winners of this supposed “Best Popular Oscar” would be if it is indeed tied in with the film’s domestic numbers.
We are going to look at the winners from 2009 when the Academy started this desperate chase to become relevant to casual movie-goers across the world.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Avatar” (20th Century Fox)
You may know already that “Avatar” made a real, hard-fought effort to nab the Oscar from eventual Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker.” Director James Cameron had won the Golden Globe, along with the film, and at the ceremony, the film walked away with three awards (Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects). Does the Academy think one more trophy added to its tally would make all the difference? Considering 41 million people watched that ceremony that included Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win Director and other films from Lee Daniels (second Black Director nominated) nabbing 2 big awards, and other “popular” things among them: Box office hits “The Blind Side,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Up” making the Best Picture lineup. Perhaps we can emulate this again?
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Inception” (Warner Bros.) or “Toy Story 3” (Pixar)
Another multiple Oscar winner (Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects) that was the highest grossing film of its year would likely take this new “prestigious” prize of the people. Nearly 38 million people tuned in to watch “The King’s Speech” beat “The Social Network” but it should also be noted that one non-white was among the acting nominees (Javier Bardem for “Biutiful”). It’s hard to get people excited when they don’t give consideration to films like “For Colored Girls.” Black films were at a decade low in 2010, with only ten films being released that year. In the case of “Toy Story 3,” which nabbed itself two Oscars for Animated Feature and Original Song, it was also the last time we saw an Animated Feature make the Best Picture lineup. This is also the last year for straight 10. Cutting their legs from under them, the Academy does. You can find an even scarier winner in “Alice in Wonderland” and enjoy all those benefits.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (Warner Bros.) or “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (Paramount Pictures)
In the case of the former, Potheads everywhere would have loved to see their beloved franchise win an Oscar especially since the film went home empty-handed after its three nominations. And if you want to say that the public doesn’t care about Art Direction, Makeup, or Visual Effects when it comes to their favorite movies, you get them to care. Politicians do it all the time. They even lie to make people care about it. And if you think “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” winning “popularity” would increase its 39.5 million viewership, you’re doing life wrong. Did anyone else notice that year-over-year increase? Does anyone want to credit films like “The Help” getting people excited to see Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis (who eventually lost to Meryl Streep) win an Academy Award? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “The Avengers” (Marvel) or “Skyfall” (Sony Pictures)
This is probably where Fanboys will point to and say this is why this new award is needed. Marvel has dominated the box office for over a decade, and one of their highest grossing films of all-time scored one single nomination for Visual Effects. God forbid we’re controversial and say that the film is good, not great, and not better than nominees “Amour,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Oh, you never heard of those films? This was the year that 8 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees grossed over $100 million, which shows someone’s heard of them. 40.38 million people later, who likely tuned in to watch Ben Affleck’s film “Argo” win Best Picture without a Directing nomination, the first to do so since “Driving Miss Daisy,” or a chance to see the youngest Best Actress nominee ever Quvenzhané Wallis probably means nothing. But let’s get that Marvel movie its consolation prize.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Frozen” (Walt Disney Pictures) or “Iron Man 3” (Marvel)
Anybody else noticing a trend? “Frozen” wins 2 Oscars on the night but needs one more additional? Are we losing sleep at night knowing that “Iron Man 3” is sitting somewhere without a gold statue? These are the things that the Board of Governors overlooked. 43.74 million people tuned in. Credit should be given to “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron, and Lupita Nyong’o winning their deserved awards but I guess Oscar doesn’t value “outstanding achievements” just “popular achievements.”
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (Paramount Pictures) or “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Warner Bros.) or “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Marvel)
So this is an award made for franchises then? Oh, I get it. “Popular” means non-original, big spectacles, and just a lot of noise. Despite “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a critically acclaimed hit, the film mustered two nominations, so what’s the problem? The beginning of #OscarsSoWhite is the problem. 37 million tuned in to watch 20 caucasian actors and actresses win Oscars when David Oyelowo, Oscar Isaac, and Erica Rivas sat on the sidelines. We also witnessed 8,000+ people not check off Ava DuVernay’s name in Best Director, and we can’t figure out why.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Walt Disney)
Ah yes, the year in which Critics Choice forced the membership hand to include in its already voted-on lineup and the internet lost its mind. 5 nominations later including a very telling Film Editing nomination wasn’t enough to get people excited I guess. #OscarsSoWhite is born, and that’s what hurt you Academy. Not the lack of “popularity” of a movie, the blatant pass over people like Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation.” Just a mere 34 million people tuned in to watch Leonardo DiCaprio to win his Oscar for “The Revenant.” This is what starts the wheels turning.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Captain America: Civil War” (Walt Disney Pictures) or “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Does ABC, whose parent company is Disney, see an opportunity to win a couple of Oscars with this no scheme? Marvel and Star Wars are a huge investment, and they need to make every dollar count. 33 million tuned in to watch Viola Davis, Mahershala Ali, Emma Stone, and Casey Affleck (over Denzel Washington, ugh!) win awards, but the Academy keeps getting worried it seems. Perhaps Captain America or Jyn Erso can save the telecast with a nice citation NOT during the commercial break.
BEST POPULAR FILM: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Pictures) or “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney Pictures)
The Disney machine strikes again, this time over another “Fast and the Furious” film. The lowest viewership in Oscar history evidently sounded all the alarms and gave them the tools needed to make their move. What if we gave an Oscar to one of the two most divisive films of the year, that’ll tick that number back up. Let’s not look at the political landscape or general state of affairs for reasoning, just pure fear.
2018: Who cares?