Across the board, these changes have two things in common. This year's Best Picture victor, The Shape of Water, made a solid $63 million at the United States box office, but this was in huge contrast to the vast success of movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, none of which were featured in the main categories. But "shorter" doesn't necessarily mean "better" either. It will also be capped at three hours long, after some broadcasts have gone on up to four hours. The following year, the category was widened from five nominees to ten. Best stunts (I'm being real on that one)?
For many professionals and artists, winning an Oscar is the realization of a lifelong dream that they get to celebrate with the entire world. However, while the film earned Heath Ledger a posthumous award for his supporting role as the Joker, the film itself was left out of the Best Picture category. Something must be done, ABC said, and the network made several recommendations to the Academy to increase viewership, including adding a "best blockbuster" category and reducing the number of televised awards.
Critics questioned whether a film like Black Panther would be relegated to the "popular" category only because it was a commercial success. That's changed. Recent best picture victors such as "Moonlight", "Spotlight", and the 2018 winner "The Shape of Water" have been firmly ensconced in the arthouse world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" have only been recognized for their technical achievements.
The Oscars are adding a new category to honor popular films and promising a brisk three-hour ceremony and a much earlier air date in 2020. But sometimes lots of people see a film even if it's not particularly great (like Jurassic World), and sometimes because it's an wonderful movie worthy of being considered among the year's best (like Thor: Ragnarok). This could be a double-edged sword for some popular movies, serving to ghettoize high-grossing films that might have gotten into Best Picture anyway. But the Academy is trying to have its cake and eat it too: By cleaving Best Picture into what amounts to artistic and popular awards, you just end up tarnishing both categories.
One final change was also announced.
If you're a fan of the types of movies that break box office records, you might have more reason to tune into the Oscars soon. As the Hollywood Reporter notes, it's that huge popularity the Academy is likely hoping will bring viewers back to the Oscars, which saw its lowest rated telecast ever this past year. Share your thoughts, good or bad, with us in the comments section below.