The Oscars Wants to Be Popular. I Have Questions.

Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot at the 2018 Oscars / Getty

In an effort to boost flagging ratings for the Oscars telecast, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has set a three-hour time limit on the program and is introducing a category to reward "outstanding achievement in popular film." Let's set aside the asinine ways that they plan on saving time (relegating technical awards to the commercial breaks instead of, say, getting rid of the goddamn song and dance numbers or reducing the number of self-indulgent montages of past, better movies from 23 to, like, I dunno, 15) and instead focus on the TRULY stupid idea: Best Popular Picture.

For starters: lots of popular pictures get best picture nominations! Dunkirk and The Shape of Water were very popular! Fury RoadThe Martian, and The Revenant were all quite popular! American Sniper grossed $350 million at the domestic box office! Sure, there are lots of mediocre movies that gross a ton of money that don't get best picture nominations (see, for instance, the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). But let's consider for a moment that they are not actually that good and thus don't deserve trophies.

If this category is going to be determined solely by box office, it raises an awkward question: will there be a ceiling on how much money a movie can gross and still be nominated for best picture? Or can something truly great—you know, something truly iconic and amazing, something like, um, Titanic, which grossed literally every dollar in America—be nominated in both? If a movie grosses more than $100 million and is nominated for best picture shouldn't it be in the Mouthbreather's Choice category too?

But is pure gross REALLY a very good measure of popularity? I mean, in 2017 we saw 740 movies get a release, and Justice League grossed more than 730 of them. But no one would suggest it was the tenth-most-popular movie of that year. Should the determination of "popular"—in pure box office terms—have more to do with the delta between production budget and box office gross? Or maybe advertising budget and box office gross?

Honestly, if the Academy isn't using RT user scores to determine which movies are truly popular, they're cheating us. The difference between the RT user score and the RT top critics score should be used to determine what is really popular, popular with the people who don't put on airs like those stuffy, asshole critics. The people know what's best, after all.

Maybe using a formula to determine popularity is a mug's game in general. Maybe popularity is like pornography—you know it when you see it, even if you can't really define it. Speaking of pornography, why not add Best Girl Girl Scene to the Oscars telecast? You want to get eyeballs, AMPAS? I can get you eyeballs, AMPAS. I can get you eyeballs.

(Be honest, guys: you just did this because you're tired of getting bothered by the fanboys who are angry that their dumb comic book movie didn't win an award, right? It's okay. You can be honest with me.)

You know this is all going to blow up in your face when Black Panther gets nominated for "Best Popular Picture" and doesn't get nominated for "Best Picture," right? Have you even considered the hashtagtivism that this will spark? #OscarsSoWhiteAndAlsoCondescending