Facing overwhelming Hollywood backlash, Academy shelves 'most popular' Oscar

Most Popular Oscar, we hardly knew you — and few, it seems, are going to miss you.

This afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) revealed that it’s putting plans for its controversial new award — which was announced only last month — on indefinite hold, because the idea “merits further study.” In a statement, the academy made it clear that the 91st Oscars (scheduled for Feb. 24, 2019) will not feature the prize for “most outstanding achievement in popular film” because implementing it so late into the cinematic calendar year creates “challenges” that can’t be properly dealt with before the telecast. A timetable for a permanent decision on the matter remains, for now, unknown.

In a statement, academy CEO Dawn Hudson said, “There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members. We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Although the new award seemed designed to help attract mainstream-moviegoer viewers (after last year’s show tallied all-time low ratings for ABC), the Board of Governors’ decision to approve the “most popular Oscar” was met with widespread criticism. That stemmed from the fact that the rules by which it would operate weren’t clearly laid out — leading to industry confusion just as fall film festivals were getting set to kick off the end-of-year award season — and because, existing alongside the Best Picture category, it appeared to unnecessarily distinguish between popularity and critical acclaim (thus doing a disservice to contenders in both fields).

At the time of its announcement, Chadwick Boseman said that the award — which many viewed as the academy’s means of guaranteeing that Black Panther takes home a significant trophy — was of no interest to him and his Marvel team: “We don’t know what it [the new prize] is, so I don’t know whether to be happy about it or not. What I can say is that there’s no campaign [that we are mounting] for popular film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for best picture, and that’s all there is to it.”

He wasn’t alone, as many other celebs also spoke out against the ill-defined proposal:








Thus, it’s unsurprising that many cinephiles have immediately cheered the academy’s newfound decision to put this unpopular popularity award on the shelf, at least for the foreseeable future:







Presumably, only Mark Wahlberg is mourning the news.

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