My first thought when I read the highlights of this story was “wow, the Academy is doing the most to ensure that at least one Oscar goes to Black Panther.” It’s good that Vanity Fair thought the same thing. The Academy (AMPAS) has released some information about how they’re going to change the Academy Awards, starting with the 2019 ceremony. I hate all of the suggestions, by the way. But here we go:
The Film Academy just revealed a series of changes to the Academy Awards that have major implications. On Wednesday, president John Bailey and C.E.O. Dawn Hudson announced the three key changes: shortening the telecast to a firm three hours, setting an earlier date for the ceremony itself, and, most importantly, adding a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. This marks the first time a new category has been announced since 2001, when best animated feature was added to the awards slate.
This is an enormous move for the Academy, a sign that the elite institution is once again trying to find more ways to reward the sorts of movies typically seen by the filmgoing public—and get more viewers to tune in to the annual ceremony. Adding this category could, conceivably, help ameliorate accusations that the institution has fallen out of step with popular culture (a contributing factor to the ceremony’s diminishing viewership).
Though the Academy doesn’t intimate this in its letter, it’s easy to imagine that this new category was inspired by the blockbuster success of Black Panther. It’s no secret that Disney is setting an awards campaign in motion for the film, angling not just for technical nods, but also for a hallowed best-picture nom. If this new category debuts at the 2019 ceremony, Black Panther seems like a lock (unless Mamma Mia! 2 intervenes), giving the Academy a way to ensure recognition for one of the biggest, most culturally impactful films of the year.
Before the discussion of the new category, let’s just take in the other changes being made. A firm three-hour show doesn’t sound too bad, except my concern is that they’ll still keep all of the filler bullsh-t and then they won’t allow the smaller-category award winners on stage to make their speeches. Like, instead of the endless fakakta montages and dumb “bits” throughout the show, why not just do a straight-forward show, like… *gasp* the Golden Globes?
As for making the Oscars earlier – they’re saying, like, the first or second Sunday in February. Which seems mega-crazy considering how jam-packed the awards season has gotten. I would suggest starting a bit slower, maybe just moving it up one week, see how that goes, and then maybe two weeks. No more than that, or else entertainment journalists and bloggers will be completely f–king strung out for like six weeks straight as there’s an awards show every f–king night. That’s something that should be dealt with too: there is NO NEED for half of the movie award shows at this point. Keep it simple, and with the Big Four: the Globes, the SAGs, the BAFTAs and the Oscars. That’s all we need.
As for the Popular Film category… I feel like it’s a cop-out, but it’s not entirely the Academy’s fault. They can’t help it if their largest voting bloc is composed of white dudes over the age of 70 who only want to give awards to Gary Oldman and Jennifer Lawrence. They can’t help it that those voters are incapable of moving with the times and recognizing films that aren’t spoon-fed to them through exhaustive Oscar campaigns. This feels so pandering, right? Like, “here’s your ‘special Oscar’ for being so popular, but you weren’t a good enough artsy-film to get a real Oscar.”
Photos courtesy of WENN, Black Panther.