Academy Awards Backpedal And Rethink Popular Film Category

Backstage at the 2018 Academy Awards
Matt Sayles / Getty Images

Recently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced plans to include a category for achievement in popular film for future Acadamy Award ceremonies.

The Academy has been presenting Oscars to films based on artistry, technical achievements, and merit for over 90 years. The decision to honor popular films was considered by many to be a major change. Many reactions to the decision were negative.

The outcry in response to the change has been heard by the Academy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Following a meeting, the Academy announced that it was putting their plans on hold until further discussions can be held.

There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members. We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

The Academy stopped shy of completely scrapping plans for the controversial category altogether, holding firm in the proclamation that it was just a postponement and not an outright cancellation of the category.

A number of people critical of the Academy’s recently-halted category expressed resentment over the implication that popular films have to be separated from films the Academy considers more prestigious. Others argued that it would inevitably devalue the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Another controversial decision by the Academy was their decision to do away with several categories for the televised portion of the ceremony. The Academy is committed to keeping the 2019 Oscar’s ceremony beneath the three-hour mark. As a result, some categories previously televised will now be announced during commercial breaks, to save time in an effort to reduce production and broadcasting costs, as well as retain viewership.

Last year, the awards show suffered a loss in viewership from prior years. The latest moves are an attempt by the Academy to prevent further declines in ratings moving forward.

This isn’t the first time the Academy has upset viewers. In 2016, the ceremony aired amidst a firestorm of controversy, as a number of critics were lashing out at the Oscars for failing to recognize African-Americans within the film industry. Detractors accused the Academy of exclusion and racism, citing it as a symptom stemming from a much bigger problem of how race is handled within the film industry. The following year, Moonlight, which follows the life of African-American Chrion as he contends with the struggles of his sexuality and identity, won the Academy Award for Best Picture.