This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown cannot quite reach an opinion when it comes to the Oscar’s newly introduced “popular film” category, according to Variety.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in a recent press release that it “will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film” in time for the 91st Oscars which is set to take place in February of next year. Although the Academy has not divulged details about what would constitute “achievement in popular film,” saying it would do so in the near future, speculation has been rife about whether the institution is simply trying to pander to blockbuster hits which usually don’t make their way into the Best Picture category.
A number of Hollywood veterans have come down heavily on the new addition, but others like Sterling K. Brown are conflicted about it. The This Is Us star, who played N’Jobu in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther, a movie which very well might be in the reckoning for the new award come February, says that he keeps going “back and forth” on whether it is a good idea.
“When I first heard of the category, the first question I had was, ‘What is the criterion for being nominated in this category?'” he said.
“If it’s something that can give it some sort of merit and legitimacy, then I think it’s cool. But I think Black Panther stands on its own merits regardless of its popularity as being a wonderful piece of art.”
Brown went on to add that movies like Black Panther must be nominated owing to their artistic qualities no matter what — an idea which has been shared by others in Hollywood.
“Ryan Coogler is an artist,” Brown said, referring to the director of Black Panther, who had started his career with the acclaimed independent production Fruitvale Station.
“The man is three for three in his films thus far, and I don’t see him striking out anytime soon. So whether it’s in one category, the other, or both, the movie is worthy of recognition.”
Others in Hollywood have said the Academy didn’t need to create a category so that it could leave mega-budget movies out of Best Picture contention. A good movie must be acknowledged regardless of its budget.
Hollywood Reporter also seemed to suggest that the move by Academy could have come in part because of the declining ratings of the Oscars, with the 2018 version amassing the lowest ratings in Oscars telecast history with only 26.5 million people tuning in to watch the awards’ function.
Whether or not the new film category will increase those views for the Academy remains to be seen, but we can be certain that there is going to be no shortage of controversy.