AMPAS president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have announced three big changes to the annual Oscar telecast. The biggest change is the addition of a second Best Picture Oscar, to be called Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. This is basically an attempt to appeal to the short-attention-span dumb-asses who have long resented that the Best Picture Oscar is more often than not won by some highbrow film that Joe and Jane Popcorn are either reluctant to see or haven’t seen at all.
In short, Bailey and Hudson have decided to dilute the importance and prestige of the Best Picture Oscar by creating a Best Popcorn-Movie Oscar, which will turn the telecast at the end of the ceremony into the People’s Choice or MTV Movie Awards. This is another attempt to accommodate the Oscar show to the sensibilities of the ADD crowd (mostly Millennials and GenZ-ers) as well as the New Academy Kidz.
Then again there’s a possible upside to this. Last year we shifted into a new era, determined by the NAK taste buds, in which genre films were allowed into the Best Picture arena. Now, with the new Popular Film Oscar, the lead contenders will be genre exercises in the vein of The Shape of Water, Get Out or this year’s Black Panther. Whereas the contenders for the Best Picture Oscar will revert back to films that actually merit the honor.
Call the Popular Film Oscar what it really is — the Popcorn-With-Extra-Butter Oscar for the Film That Knuckle-Draggers Like The Most.
The upside is that Hollywood Elsewhere might get more Phase One advertising from distributors of Popcorn Oscar contenders.
The second change is a decision to hold the Oscar telecast in early February instead of late February or early March, which might mean a slight reduction in Phase Two ad revenue for HE. (But maybe not.) The 2020 Oscars (i.e., the 92nd) will move to Sunday, 2.9.20, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process. The 91st Oscars telecast will still happen Sunday, February 24, 2019.
The third change is a determination to keep the Oscar telecast to a firm three hours. This will mean shortchanging the below-the-line winners (editors, dps, makeup and costumes, short subjects) by handing out their Oscars during commercial breaks, and then airing these winning moments later in the broadcast.
What the Popcorn Oscar will essentially boil down to is box-office grosses.
Perhaps the Pulitzer Prize committee will add a new award for Most Popular Airport Novel? Maybe the Tony Awards can follow suit with a special award for Broadway Musical Revival Most Enjoyed by Rube Tourists?
Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan on cutting the length down to three hours: “At first, this sounds like a great idea, because the annoying people in your life always complain that the Oscars are too long. Well, it’s not for them! The Oscars should always be long, because we wait all year for this show and those stray, long moments are where all the weird and memorable shit tends to happen! Nobody complains about the Super Bowl running 20 minutes over, because that’s masc, I guess.”