The Oscars to add “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” category & more

In a move that is bound to gain the attention of movie fans and critics the world over, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s board of governors has announced that some significant changes are coming to the annual Oscars celebration, including an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.” News of the effort to spice up the time-honored ceremony comes after the board motioned to re-elect John Bailey for a second term as president of the organization. In addition to Bailey’s re-appointment, it’s also been confirmed that the show will now be presented over a length of three hours. Furthermore, the board also voted to present categories live in the Dolby Theater throughout commercial breaks. While the categories for the unique time slot have yet to be determined, an edited version of those accepting the awards will be arranged to air later in the show. While some have expressed their dissatisfaction for the new setup, it’s to be thought that these changes are part of an effort to keep home viewers of the ceremony more engaged with the event.

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With the re-structuring of the show decided, Bailey and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson issued a memo to members of the board about the upcoming changes, which you can read in-full for yourself below:

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson

While these changes might appear monumental to some, others will argue that an overhaul of the Oscars has been in-the-works for quite a while. The fact of the matter is that ratings for the Oscars have been less than stellar over the past several years, no matter which celebrity is carted out to host the event. Many will tell you that the show’s predictability is what keeps it from being worth a live watch, while others will say that they’re tired of not seeing their favorite (and worthy) films represented. Obviously, the “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.” is an effort to give genre films a better chance of taking home a little bald statue, though some participants are now concerned that their categories will be pushed to the “commercial break” segments.

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For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how these changes stand to augment the overall show, and hope that by mixing things up a bit that the event becomes more engaging as the guild continues to re-structure the ceremony. Personally, I think the Oscars can do with a bit of change. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to see some of our favorite Hollywood blockbusters represented? I certainly think so. However, this upcoming situation also begs the question as to whether or not “popular” films will be left out of other, more notable categories. Just as an example, does this now leave MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT in the dust for the category of Best Picture? Will a film as epic as AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR never make it past the effects-driven awards presentations? What of Ryan Coogler‘s BLACK PANTHER? At a glance, the move does appear to have some potential, though an argument can be made that some of the biggest films of the year will all be left to compete for a singular award. Hmm, me thinks this is going to require some more thought. What a tangled web we weave, eh?

Let us know what you think about the upcoming changes to the Oscars in the comments section below.