By John H. Foote
Citing that the idea for an award for Best Popular Film merits more study and greater thought, the Academy has killed the award for now. Turns out the Academy is not made up entirely of fools.
Oh OK, the dummies that voted Chariots of Fire (1981) Best Picture are still fools, but at least there are some members thinking straight. The idea of a Best Popular Film was ridiculous. What is, after all, the Best Popular Film? The film that makes the most money? Canada’s Genie Awards solved that with the Golden Reel Award given annually to the highest grossing Canadian film. Could the Academy not try something like that?
I understand their desire to bring in greater audiences to the Oscar telecast but there are other ways. A short time ago I suggested some new awards: Best Ensemble, Best Stunt Work, Best Motion Capture Performance, and they could also add Best First Film for a Director, just some fresh blood. As cinema changes so should the Academy and they have not. Change the Foreign Language Oscar to just Foreign film so English speaking countries can qualify. Sure Canada has been nominated, but only when the film is in French, Hindi or Innuit, which to me is simply batshit crazy. As far as I know, we are a foreign country. As is Australia, England, Ireland, and so many others.
They need to know, that like it or not, the movies are changing. What was once art and entertainment enjoyed by a collective audience is now something that can be seen alone, isolated. Can you imagine Jaws (1975) without the screams of an audience? Or Tootsie (1982) without the gales of laughter? I prefer seeing a film with others, even if they are cynical, jaded critics, but the demands of the job often mean I see things alone. So be it, you adjust.
The Academy is trying to adjust, but going about in the wrong ways. Increasing the number of nominees for Best Picture from five to up to ten was stupid. All that did was permit bad movies like The Blind Side (2009) to be Best Picture nominees! They did this because The Dark Knight (2008) was snubbed for Best Picture and Director but they still have not had a superhero film nominated for Best Picture. Granted there has not been a great be since The Dark Knight, but Wonder Woman (2017) was better than at least three of last year’s nominees for Best Picture.
Anyway, the big news is that this so stooooopid idea for a Best Popular Film is where it should be, dead….for now. The panic sweeping Oscar writers can cease, the nightmare is over.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.