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Oscars Slammed by Film Journalists for Creating ‘Best Popular Film’ Category, Especially in the Year of ‘Black Panther’

Film writers took to social media minutes after the Academy revealed its new "outstanding achievement in popular film" category to mock the decision.

"Black Panther"

“Black Panther”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced earlier today the creation of a brand new Oscars category: Outstanding achievement in popular film. The new category’s eligibility requirements won’t be revealed until a later date, but the decision is already being widely mocked and criticized by film critics, writers, and reporters on social media.

IndieWire’s awards editor Anne Thompson slammed the category creation as a “desperate ratings attempt.” Many film journalists view the decision to add a popular film category as a way for the Academy to acknowledge blockbuster movies and studio tentpoles that often don’t make the cut for best picture. The problem here, as many writers pointed out on social media, stems from the fact that putting studio blockbusters in a “popular” category suggests they aren’t as artistic as the indie movies that get nominated for best picture.

“As for a ‘popular film’ award, it is a ghetto and will be perceived that way,” journalist Mark Harris wrote on Twitter. “Imagine if they instituted it this year: ‘Oh, It’s lovely that the rabble went to Black Panther–here’s a special fake Oscar it can win!’ This is just a head-slapper on all counts.”

The fact the new popular film category was announced ahead of an awards season where “Black Panther” is being viewed as a major contender for best picture is providing extreme blowback to Academy’s decision. “Black Panther” is critically acclaimed and is only the third movie in U.S. box office history to surpass $700 million, which makes it a no-brainer for a popular film award. Journalists are now worried relegating “Black Panther” to a popular film category will hurt its chances of being nominated in the main races, which are inarguably more prestigious.

Check out the heated response to the Academy’s new category below.

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