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Academy Adds New Oscar Category For ‘Best Popular Film’ And Twitter Is Not Having It

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The Academy Awards just announced a new category that aims to celebrate and recognize the most popular films. However, critics call it a ploy to shut out blockbusters from the big categories.  ( Kai Kalhh | Pixabay )

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced an entirely new category to honor the year's most popular blockbusters, a move that has sent shockwaves among film critics and film communities online.

On Aug. 8, the Academy detailed a number of changes to the Oscars, including its intention to add a new category for achievement in popular film. How a film qualifies as "popular" is still uncertain, and the Academy has yet to announce when this change will take into effect.

Academy Announces Best Popular Film Award

It's already clear, however, what the purpose of this award is: give blockbuster pictures a chance to walk away with their own Oscar trophies. It's not that big blockbusters don't get nominated for or win Oscars, but that doesn't always happen, and the Best Picture category has typically been reserved for indie flicks with critical acclaim and so-so revenue.

Moonlight, for instance, the Best Picture of 2017's Oscar ceremony, only grossed $27 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo's numbers.

Oscar Best Popular Film Backlash

Many have taken to Twitter to criticize and express dismay over the Academy's decision to add the category in question, which some view as an excuse not to nominate critically acclaimed blockbusters such as Black Panther for Best Picture. Some even go as far as to regard the Best Popular Film award as a "fake" Oscar or the Academy's attempt to give consolation awards to films it doesn't view as worthy of high-tier Oscar awards.

Reporters from Variety, including Meredith Woerner, Stuart Oldham, and Kristopher Tapley, were among the first to comment on the new category, calling it "lazy," "staggeringly ham-fisted," and "a HUGE step back for genre film."

The Academy has long been accused of snubbing commercially blockbuster films whose genres aren't typically considered Oscar-worthy. For example, last year's Wonder Woman was a groundbreaking reinvigoration of the dormant female superhero landscape, and it won the hearts of both critics and regular moviegoers, but it was shut out from the ceremony despite a huge campaign to get it nominated.

Making space for "popular" films essentially causes a disparity among mainstream and lesser-known cinema — which sends a message that while all films deserve critical merit and scrutiny, some are just more deserving of "better" merits than others. It's a confusing concept to grasp and antagonizes films against one another instead of celebrating them.

Here are some reactions from Twitter:

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