Oscar 2018: New (Dubious) Category–Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) introduces changes to the annual Oscar show in desperate efforts to bolster ratings for the boring and sluggish telecast.

Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film

In a message to its membership, the group’s president John Bailey and its CEO Dawn Hudson said the broadcast will now include a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. The group did not provide details on what movies would be eligible and when the award will first be handed out, but its intent is clear.

Gone are the days, when Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as “E.T.” “Titanic” or “Gladiator” as the year’s best. That’s changed.

Recent best picture victors such as “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and the 2018 winner “The Shape of Water” have been art films par excellence.

Well-reviewed hit films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have only been recognized for their technical achievements.

Goal: Keep the Oscar and the Academy Relevant in Changing World

“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscar and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” Bailey and Hudson wrote in a note to members. “The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”

The Oscar broadcast has also been criticized as being too long and tedious. Thus, the Academy’s board of governors announced that future broadcasts will be three hours long.

The 2018 awards show, which clocked in at almost four hours, was the least watched event in history. It pulled only 26.5 million viewers, and the ratings were down 19% compared to the previous year.


The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Independent Spirit Awards, and Critics’ Choice Awards all are announced prior to the Oscars and often recognize the same actors and filmmakers who go on to win Oscar Awards. This can make that final broadcast seem more like a coronation than a surprise-filled evening. Hence, the Academy set an earlier air date for the 2020 telecast, moving it from February 23 to February 9.

However, next year’s telecast will still air on February 24, as previously announced.