Today, the Academy screwed the pooch. Seriously, the backlash from media, fans, the Twitterdom, and genuniely anyone who loves film has been swift and universally negative. Today they announced three big changes.
- A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.
- We've set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9.
- We're planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast.
The last one doesn't bother me as much. So far, it sounds like they are going to use the model the Tonys have used for years. Still giving technical categories their moment, but doing it in a way that makes the ceremony shorter. Considering that the Tonys are the most enjoyable of the big four every year, maybe this one people can chill out on for now. There are bigger fish to fry. This "popular category" stunt will not last long, I can tell you that. This is not the People's Choice or MTV Movie Awards. This is supposed to be about the best in film, not the biggest. People are asking legitimate questions. What qualifies as a popular film? There are plenty of Indies that could be deemed popular for their size and theater release, what are the specific qualifications? The Academy better answer soon. They have already released a statement saying that the films will be eligible for both categories, but we all know how that will turn out. The fact that they are already having to clarify is not a good sign for this move. And while the expansion of the Best Picture race has made way for indies to thrive, don't forget that genuine blockbusters such as Avatar, The Blind Side, Up, Toy Story 3, Inglourious Basterds, Inception, The King's Speech, The Help, Gravity, American Sniper, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, Hidden Figures, La La Land, and Get Out all were genuinely successful blockbusters, and also good films. Sure the Academy has missed out one some great blockbusters, but its missed out on just as many great indies as well. Screw them. This is terrible, and for those of us who make this our hobby, this is an insult, and it is an insult to film.
The February 9th date is also infuriating. We already don't have enough time to really enjoy the Oscar season, and see all the films. Now you are going to cause a backlog, and it will mean all late releases are ignored. It also could completely screw up the precursor guilds and critics, who now have to choose to either move to be a part of Oscar season, or be seen as irrelevant because they fall out of the Oscar time frame. You, Academy, moved in the wrong direction. It needs to go back to March, and not compete with football, and the precursor awards. If you think this move will bring you better ratings, either move, you are sadly mistaken. It will only anger your core audience, and make you look desperate. Ratings are not everything. Celebrate film. Period. If they don't like the films, screw them. I would rather see another race with The Shape of Water, Get Out, and Three Billboards, then see one between Avengers, Minions, and some crappy horror flick. Like I said, they really screwed the pooch.