In what may be the biggest news out of the Academy in twenty years, President John Bailey has announced three new rules and dates regarding the Oscars, and the results are truly shocking.
The first announcement, which doesn’t really bear much significance overall, is that the 2020 Oscars (so not this race, but the next one) will move from February 23rd to February 9th. This is a strange decision, as this would be one of the earliest telecasts in recent memory, but it’s not a game changer. The next is where things begin to get a little controversial. In a stunning move, the Academy has announced that the Oscars telecast will be shortened from 4+ hours to 3+ hours. While this may not seem like a big deal, this decision essentially means that most of the technical awards will be given out during the commercial breaks, effectively cutting out the chance for the unsung heroes to have their once-in-a-lifetime moment. While this is frustrating for many film fans (sure, we can allow the Super Bowl to go on for twenty hours, but the Oscars can’t get four? They’re putting up equal numbers at this point), it is also a move that will most likely backfire on the Academy – considering the strides they’ve made to actually shake up the voting demographic, how do you think it’s going to play when an African-American or woman finally wins Best Cinematography or one of the many other fields in which they have been snubbed? It’s definitely not going to cast a positive light on the telecast. However, even this decision is not as insane as the rule to come.
For the first time in almost twenty years, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will be adding a new category. That’s right, there will be a whole new field for voters to pick and prognosticators to predict: Outstanding Popular Film, also known as Best Blockbuster. Essentially, the Academy is creating a separate category specifically for summer films, presumably in the hopes of courting larger audiences, and most likely sponsored by telecast host ABC, considering Disney owns every blockbuster there is. I cannot begin to break down how baffling this decision is. This decision essentially makes it harder for blockbusters to get nominated for Best Picture, and looks on the surface to be a way to preemptively cut off the backlash when Black Panther is eventually snubbed going forward. However, there are so many other unknown variables in play that I don’t know where to begin. What makes a blockbuster? Is it the budget, meaning Mission: Impossible – Fallout gets the edge? Is it by gross, meaning Avengers: Infinity War is a lock? What about films that don’t become blockbusters until after they receive nominations, like La La Land and American Sniper – both of which made $500 million worldwide? If this category had been in effect, would it have eliminated Best Picture nominations for Gladiator, Gravity, Avatar, Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Mad Max: Fury Road, and even Star Wars? Could Get Out have done as well as it did with this category in play? Even though this is designed to cut down on backlash, isn’t this just going to further enrage toxic fandoms like Marvel, DC, and Star Wars to insult and assault each other? And speaking of which, if this is going to be a new category, can we at least nominate Star Wars every year just to piss off the Proud Boys? Obviously, I have some thoughts, and while I’m not opposed to the idea in theory, it is hard for me to not look at this as a potentially massive failure.
I may be writing more about this going forward, and will definitely have an update whenever the Academy chooses to explain how the hell they’re going to qualify “popular films.” Until then, we can talk amongst ourselves about the merits and pratfalls of these insane new rules, and openly fret over the new possibility of the phrase “Oscar Winner Michael Bay.”