Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is Oscars’ New ‘Popular Film’ Award A Way to Keep ‘Black Panther’ Out of Best Picture Category?

*As previously reported, “Black Panther” continues to make cinematic history by becoming the third film to cross $700 million domestically. This puts it just behind two other box office hits, “Avatar” ($760 million) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($936 million).

Marvel’s “Black Panther” bagged nearly $300 million upon initial release and held the #1 spot at the box office for five weeks. It may also become the first comic book superhero movie to get a Best Picture nomination.

But as noted by Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson, if the film gets the nod, “it’ll be Disney’s first live-action, non-Steven Spielberg/non-DreamWorks SKG release to do so since “The Sixth Sense” 19 years ago. Even without those caveats, Black Panther would be only their 11th Best Picture nominee going back to at least 1978.”

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via Forbes:

The bad news is that there remains a chance that the MCU flick won’t sneak into the final nominees. The good news is that it may just get shut out by a bunch of other acclaimed movies from black artists, about black people and for black audiences. If you look at the pre-festival Oscar picture right now, especially on a studio-by-studio basis, quite a few studios have, as their biggest (or only) contender, a major movie for/by black audiences.

It would be one thing if Black Panther got shut out in favor of a bunch of prestige pics about white dudes being brave (or terrible) or learning a lesson about family. It would be quite another (less likely since everyone has seen it) if the T’Challa drama didn’t end up in the Oscar conversation because it got shut out by the likes of Blindspotting, If Beale Street Could Talk, BlackKklansman, The Hate U Give, Widows and Sorry to Bother You. But that we’re even having this conversation, with the hopes that A Star Is Born, First Man, Welcome to Marwen and the like are also great, is, at the very least, evidence of evidence of progress.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a number of changes for its upcoming Oscars ceremonies, including the addition of a brand new category.

The planned changes include a shorter broadcast, a new date for the 2020 ceremony, which will now be held on February 9; and the inclusion of a brand new category that would recognize achievement in popular film, Teen Vogue reported.

Movies would reportedly be eligible for nominations in both the best picture and popular film category. This will be the first time in 17 years that a new award category has been announced. A category for best animated feature was last added in 2001.

The new category has sparked debate on Twitter, with numerous users noting that “Black Panther” could potentially be recognized as the popular film instead of the top honor, best picture.

”So THAT’S how they’re planning to keep Black Panther from being nominated for ‘Best Picture’,” one user wrote.

“The Academy is going to be so confused when people aren’t happy that they gave Black Panther their newly invented Consolation Prize Oscar,” writer Courtney Enlow tweeted.

One user also questioned what winning the award would really mean, writing, “If there’s a “Popular Film” category, what are you saying about the actual Best Picture nominees. assuming they are similar to past years? That they’re unpopular? That they’re unequivocally better because they’re NOT popular?”

In the letter, the Academy explained that “eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming”, including when the “Popular Film” will be implemented.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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