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Popular Movies vs. Great Films at the Oscars

In August 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ announced the addition of a new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film” for the 2019 Oscars. Dubbed as the “Popcorn Oscar,” the category is one of a few efforts the Academy is trying to rally more interest in their annual awards show, which has been losing viewership in recent years. This year’s category will likely feature Black Panther, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, and Avengers: Infinity Wars, some of the years highest grossing films.

However, the inclusion of the new category insinuates certain things about popular films. By creating a category with the explicit intention of celebrating “popular film” when there is already the highly sought after Best Picture category, the Academy seems to be implying that achievement for popular movies is different than achievement for other films. Obviously popular movies need not be quality - there is no shortage of crappy yet popular movies - but there certainly are films that are both popular and good. Including this additional category seemingly makes the statement that there are popular movies, those that will be considered for the Popcorn Oscar, and there are great films, those that will be considered for the Best Picture category.

P.S. As I mentioned, this was more of a data-driven exercise and discussion from an avid fan of film, but also from someone who is not a film expert by any stretch of the imagination. For more articulate and/or nuanced discussions on this matter, consider checking out these pieces:

P.P.S. Since writing this, the Academy decided to ditch their plan for the Popcorn Oscar, at least temporarily. There was a pretty prompt and outspoken negative reaction from the public when the Academy announced their original plan for the new category, which may have contributed to their later decision to scrape the idea, but they may have also come to their senses after reading this very piece. Who's really to say...