The Academy hints that their Best Popular Film Oscar isn’t quite dead

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

This summer, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the upcoming 91st Academy Awards would be introducing a new category: Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. The reaction was immediate and fierce as most everyone seemed to think that this was a terrible idea. Less than a month later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to suspend the plan as a direct result of the backlash. "The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released," said AMPAS in a statement. "The Board of Governors continues to be actively engaged in discussions, and will examine and seek additional input regarding this category." Thank goodness.

Even though the Academy eventually came to their senses, it seems that the Popular Film award is still something they're considering. While speaking at the Energa Camerimage Film Festival, Academy president John Bailey confirmed that the plan was a reaction to the falling TV ratings of the Oscar ceremony, but despite putting it on the back-burner, having some kind of additional recognition for "for best picture or best general release is very much on our minds."

[It] seemed like a good idea, the board approved it, announced it, but we got a lot of pushback. So the board reconsidered and tabled it – which is not to say that the idea is dead. Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.

From whom? Carol Littleton, a member of the board of governors and the film editors branch, added that a lot of smaller films, such as THE SHAPE OF WATER and MOONLIGHT, "are not widely distributed so TV audiences have not seen many of the nominated pictures." Although the Popular Film award is off the table (for now), Bailey believes that the 91st Academy Awards ceremony will include a wider spectrum of films, which could include BLACK PANTHER. "It will be interesting to see how that plays out," Bailey added. "It might give us a strong perspective on how to move forward." In regards to categories which movie fans actually would want to see, such as Best Stunt Performer, Bailey said that "a number of different crafts would like to be represented and there are ongoing discussions about creating new branches, but right now we’re trying to reduce the size of the board. However, nothing is written in stone." So, it seems that the Best Popular Film award will likely be back, in some form or another, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences try to correct their ratings slump.

The 91st Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 24, 2019.

Source: Variety

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.