Oscars to introduce popular film category and shortened ceremony

Sheila Mcguire
August 8, 2018

The Academy's board of governors has also set an earlier date for the 2020 Oscars ceremony and will shorten the telecast to three hours in an attempt to make the ceremony "more accessible for our viewers worldwide". The Board of Governors took this charge seriously. "The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast".

The Academy's new Oscars popular film category isn't so popular.

The new date moves up the awards - typically held on the last Sunday in February (or first Sunday in March when accommodating for the Winter Olympics) - to February 9, 2020.

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The 91st Annual Academy Awards, honoring the film achievements of 2018, will take place February 24, 2019.

Ratings for the 90th Academy Awards fell to an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers, down 19 percent from the previous year and the first time the glitzy awards ceremony had fewer than 30 million viewers since 2008. The annual awards show usually runs over three hours, with the longest show clocking in at four hours and 20 minutes minutes in 2002. The way they propose to do that is to present select categories live during the commercial breaks and edit them in and air them later on during the broadcast.

It's hard to read this as anything but an acknowledgement of the continued complaint that the ceremony's major categories, specifically Best Picture, often highlight indie films and small-scale dramas, many of which haven't even been screened in certain parts of the United States and the world at the time of the Oscars telecast.

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Details on eligibility for the new category have yet to be announced. The 2019 Oscars will proceed as planned on February 24.

Essentially, with these changes, the Oscars are looking to become more like the MTV Movie Awards, and that's a damn shame. Regardless of whatever "criteria" they end up outlining, the AMPAS might as well just slap a dollar sign on the trophy's forehead and call it "Most Money Earned" (or "Best Cape").

The Oscars are making some changes to their format, and that includes opening the door for more widely popular movies to get recognized, including superhero films. Period. There's no need to put a "popular film" label on it.

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