And the Winner of the Best Popular Picture is No One!

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, or more notably known as ‘The Academy’) have always summarized a year of movies among the glitz and glamour, pomp and circumstance, and the sundry booshie hipster.

There are even Oscar-watching parties where folk even dress up, as if TMZ is hiding in their bushes trapping a moment in time of those disheveled outfits put together from Old Navy and some shoes found among someone’s frenetic garage sale.

Lately, even the hype to fight through four hours of hot-button political rhetoric and awkward interruptions of musical chords hasn’t been enough to keep the attention of the random viewer. Why struggle when we can see who won the notable “Best” awards on some entertainment website or the evening news?

Besides, who in the world has even seen those hoity-toity movies that were released two weeks before New Years Day?! No one. That’s why last year’s Academy Awards hit a historic thud in the bottom of the ratings cellar. Following that broadcasting debacle, those aforementioned snobs got together and talked about pandering to nerds… eh, attracting new people.

It’s all about the Benjamins

JimCarrey_TheMask
Courtesy: “The Mask,” New Line Cinema, 1994

That uptight parvenu Oscar began sifting through his highbrow friends for better ratings in 2001. You see, people love Ogres. And Shrek made a truckload of cash ($485 million on a $60 million budget) at the box office. It was easily one of the most successful movies that year but it didn’t sniff a ‘Best Picture’ nomination.

Why? Because computers.

Much to the huzzah of Hollywood, Oscar determined this would be a good time to create the ballyhooed Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was Oscar’s first attempt to dig into our wallets and for better ratings. If kids wanted to watch the ‘Who are you wearing’ show, parents would too, right?

It worked, but just for a while.

What’s next, Oscar? In 2009, he stepped out of his Maybach long enough to realize five best pictures were not enough to muster interest in the beleagured award show. He expanded the Best selections to 10, in hopes to capture a few more eyeballs when the show comes on. Didn’t matter because it was just five more movies only a few heard of, with the exception of a couple of buzzworthy flicks that may make Oscar a little more relevant.

What happened in 2009? The Dark Knight. 

You know the story. Heath Ledger transformed into the Joker before the world’s eyes and was given a posthumous Best Supporting Actor for his work (and yes, CBMers, he deserved it). For the first time, Oscar began appealing to nerd nation.

Since then, there have been plenty of nerd movies to come out and bupkus. Why? Maybe because if an actor isn’t in a period piece, they can’t be taken seriously? If there are more than one ‘Michael Bay-sized’ explosions in a movie, it can’t possibly be respected by Oscar’s well-to-do pals.

So, after the cable bill came due in 2018, Oscar decided the animated picture thing worked before, so time to do it again. And that’s why we will finally see a Marvel picture win an Oscar of any substance.

Does it really matter?

superhero oscar
Courtesy: ScreenRant, January 2017

In a word, no. 

Box office success is often a negative when Oscar asks those highbrow fools what they think about the upcoming Bests. Sure, Titanic slayed the box office but look who was in it. Avatar had the same director and even outperformed the little tugboat that couldn’t, but Oscar finally came to his senses and sent James Cameron’s 3D fest to the technology awards that — wait for it — usually, the nerds only care to watch.

In 2018, those nerds did two things Oscar never thought possible.

They spent close to $3 billion on movies. Black Panther was the only the third film in history to gross $700 million domestically. Then T’Challa’s purple people eater showed up and earned more than $2 billion globally.

The movies were amazing. The Incredibles sequel was great. So was Ready Player One. And then there’s Mission Impossible: Fallout. It has been a dynamic year for action moviemaking and The Academy just couldn’t take another bath, like that handsy monster in The Shape of Water. 

Oscar is back trying to be relevant while maintaining his fru-fru status, so he sends all those cash register singing “popular” movies to the “animated” table in the other room for TV dinners and punch while all his friends stay at the dining table eating fois gras and Pinot Noir.

For 90 years, Oscar and his ilk hasn’t cared one second about the geek community and our unrefined cinematic proclivities. They have been more concerned about method acting and #OscarsSoWhite than a movie that most people see and enjoy.

“Some will complain that adding such a category cheapens the prestige of the Oscars, making it more like the People’s Choice Awards or MTV Movie & TV Awards, but that is old-world thinking. More than the length of the telecast or the name of the host, Oscar ratings have been shown to correlate with the popularity of the nominated films among the general public. And the gulf between what the public buys tickets to see and what the Academy nominates and awards has never been greater.” ~Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter

And who is at the epicenter of that chasm? Nerds. See how important you are? Watch the Oscars. They’re fun, but realize when Black Panther wins the gold-plated eunuch (and it will because of how impactful the story was), the celebration will be in the kid’s room down the hall.

It will be fun but when we cheer loudly, Oscar’s fan club will be sitting there, nodding in certainty because they knew you would do that. Guilty much?

Maybe a Time Stone form Thanos’ gauntlet will help turn back the pages and remind you what you are really watching.

 

One Comment on “And the Winner of the Best Popular Picture is No One!

  1. Pingback: ‘Best Popular Film’ is Officially Not a Popular Idea…For Now – MoviesMatrix

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