Scott Hardie | September 8, 2018
I guess it's moot now that the new category has been cancelled, but what did you think of the Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film?

Steve West | September 8, 2018
I seem to be going back and forth on the issue but I'm leaning towards not liking the category. Award winning should not be comparable to box office success. However, box office success is an indicator of what people like and should have at least some influence on voting. No examples leap out at me beyond the Marvel universe but there are many films that don't or didn't win Best Picture that I could foresee as winning this invented (read bogus) award as a seeming consolation prize (read second place).

Samir Mehta | September 8, 2018
[hidden by author request]

Aaron Shurtleff | September 11, 2018
The part I find troubling (and I hope I misunderstood, so tell me if I did) is in their explanation in the linked article, they talk about how films didn't have time to plan because the criteria weren't clear/set. I have long heard the knock that filmmakers make films specifically to win Oscars, but I don't recall it being so blatant as that statement seemed to be. Maybe I am just naive.

Also, to sort of piggyback off Steve's comment, I think he has a very good point. Isn't having a film with a huge box office take essentially a pretty darn good award? Do we really need a statue to say,"Hey. Good job making all that money!"?

And I still think the best solution for keyboard warriors is to have their comments linked to their actual identity. As long as people can be actual jerks online while hiding behind the facade of xXxpu$$ysl@yer69xXx there is no incentive for actual civil discussion to take place.

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2018
Yeah, one of the reasons why these awards even exist is to give the film industry a financial boost. That's why the likely winners are carefully released in winter to maximize their box-office gain from a nomination or win. I don't think the best-selling movie of the year needs an Oscar to sell tickets the same way that a Moonlight would.

But I do appreciate AMPAS's attempt to bridge the widening gap between popular fare and artistic fare. For most of film history, Hollywood made different movies for lots of different kinds of audiences, and emotionally complex films for adults were routinely produced and widely seen. Films like Terms of Endearment and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest were both among the most popular of the year and the best of the year, and they were worthy Oscar winners. These days, Hollywood has led our regression into pop-culture childhood, where Marvel and Star Wars and the ilk are the only things selling tickets. And those movies are sometimes very good for what they are, but they're not exactly Platoon or Schindler's List. The Academy has regressed in its own way, broadly refusing to nominate popular fare like this for anything but technical awards, with rare exceptions like Heath Ledger's electric Joker performance, which would have sparked riots if it wasn't at least nominated.

The stuffier snobs in the Academy might not like it, but I think it's time for AMPAS to acknowledge that this is Hollywood now. Black Panther is not just a good superhero movie; it's a good movie period. It shouldn't be treated like a second-class film, shut out of consideration because it's about a comic-book superhero. I really do think the Academy voters don't even consider popular entertainment; they only really seem to consider voting for respectable indie fare that they can feel good about. This trend of nominating increasingly obscure indies over broadly popular mainstream films is bad for the Academy, bad for the movie business, and certainly bad for the Oscar telecast's ratings.

As we discussed two years ago, I'd prefer for the most popular film of the year to get an automatic Best Picture nomination, regardless of how "most popular" is quantified. And I'd prefer if it was NOT revealed whether that film got nominated because of that rule. For example, if that rule would be in effect this coming winter, and Black Panther got nominated for Best Picture, let people wonder whether it earned the nomination by vote or because of the automatic addition. It doesn't really matter! The thing is, more people would tune in to root for it and the Academy would look a hell of a lot more attuned to what's actually happening in Hollywood.

But ultimately, it comes down to the voters. AMPAS knew that it couldn't solve racial and gender biases by encouraging people to have more open minds, so it phased out old inactive members and brought in a wave of new minority voters and female voters who would, it was presumed, make more diverse choices. That seems to have worked. Maybe instead of inventing new consolation-prize categories to force more popular, mainstream films into the running, the Academy should tweak its membership ranks again to phase out the elitist snobs?

Unrelated:

"We’d be better off if the Internet warriors dropped offline." I say we'd be better off if we stopped paying any attention to what Internet warriors say or think. The more weight we give their words, the more awful they seem to act. They should not be quoted in media nor should corporations pay any attention to them. (Kudos to Australia's Herald Sun for defending its artist against the online mob, for instance.)

"The best solution for keyboard warriors is to have their comments linked to their actual identity." I used to think this. It's one of the founding ideas of Tragic Comedy and Funeratic. But I have Facebook friends and acquaintances who post some truly vile political things and they don't seem to suffer any consequences, unless my silently unfollowing them counts. The Internet is awful. People on the Internet are awful. I no longer care what awful people on the Internet think.

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2018
To be clear: I'm not saying that I approve of the Herald Sun cartoon; I'm just glad that the newspaper didn't do what every media company seems to do these days and fire the artist immediately and beg for mercy from the Internet mob. I find Norm MacDonald's #MeToo comments today to be vile, but I don't like that the entertainment industry's kneejerk reaction is to remove all association with him. No good is going to come from this trend.


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