The Academy Adds Best Popular Film Oscar Category

Sergio Cunningham
August 8, 2018

In a message to its members obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy announced that - in addition to committing to a three-hour telecast that will include some presentation changes and a slightly earlier airdate for the 2020 ceremony - its board of governors voted Tuesday to add a new category to the annual Oscars telecast: Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony also clocked it at almost four hours, making it the longest show in over a decade.

Although Oscars does award commercially successful films, it tends to exclude genre movies such or superhero films like Star Wars or, more recently, Black Panther. This creates ratings woes for the Academy, to be sure, but it's also generated an outcry from genre fans and critics, who argue that legitimately great artistic achievements in blockbuster and genre-heavy films are often overlooked, with a few exceptions like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and this year's big victor, The Shape of Water.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show. Bailey and Hudson said eligibility requirements will be determined at a later date.

"We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide", the letter reads. For comparison, last year's ceremony aired in early March and the upcoming 2019 show is set for February 24. The body stated that the smaller awards will be presented during the telecast's commercial breaks, with the winning moments aired later in the broadcast.

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The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. As THR points out, the most successful movies at the box office each year are rarely represented in the main categories and usually have to make do with technical awards. They argue the change "will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process".

The Academy is making some changes to the Oscars.

Does that mean even less Academy recognition for similar films now that they may have a separate category? The Board of Governors took this charge seriously. Is Best Popular Film a good idea or not? Many wrote that they hoped the category will be about stunt work. "Popular films are films!" And that's saying a lot since you awarded Best Picture to Crash.

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