After noting that Boyhood and Birdman are “box office lightweights when measured against past Oscar winners,” Variety‘s Brent Lang calls this “a sign that Academy Awards voters are more moved by art than commerce when it comes to handing out the top prize.” Moved by Oscar blogoscenti picks and the well-orchestrated campaigns for the annointed few, he means. And then Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian, a veritable Rudyard Kipling when it comes to flat-footed observations about box-office currents, delivers the following: “Often times the most challenging movies aren’t the ones that generate the most popular attention from audiences.” These articles always seem to be hinting there should be a closer alignment between popularity and quality. That happens every so often (currently with American Sniper), but Lang seems to be suggesting that the Oscars should give a little more thought to the philosophy of the People’s Choice Awards. If you ask me one of the Academy’s proudest moments was when The Hurt Locker ($17 million and change) won the Best Picture Oscar — the loudest reminder heard in the 21st Century that the twains of popularity and quality rarely meet. The vast majority of popcorn-buying Joes lack perception and sensitivity. That’s not a good or bad thing — just fact. And that’s okay.