The “Popular Film” Oscar Is Dead, for Now Anyway


Academy Retreats on ‘Popular’ Oscar Category for Now
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Well, we can’t say this was a popular idea to begin with.

A month following the divisive announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it would be incorporating a Best Popular Film category beginning at the 2019 Oscars, the organization confirmed it’s backtracking on the idea—for now. In a statement obtained by Variety, the Academy came to a collective decision that this Popular category “merits further study,” and as such will not be making its intended February ceremony debut. Without directly mentioning the significant, head-scratching backlash the organization received with this development, the Academy said it would be “remaining committed to celebrating a wide spectrum of movies,” while also recognizing that implementing any new award “creates challenges for films that have already been released.”

“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,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson explained in the statement. “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.” The Academy wouldn’t confirm that 2020 would instead be the category’s new debut date, only clarifying that the other previously announced changes to the telecast—which include cutting down the running time to three hours—would proceed next year as planned.

Interestingly, when the Academy announced this Best Popular Film category last month, details of the award were still being finalized, with the only sliver of intel offered being that a film could be nominated for both Popular Film and Best Picture. (The term “popular” was generally surmised to mean blockbusters or popcorn films, but again, the Academy didn’t set any sort of guidelines.) It’s say to safe Black Panther would’ve easily swept the category—not like they wanted it anyway.

Oscars Red Carpet: The All-Time 15 Fashion Risks That Paid Off

You can’t have a look back at daring fashion without including Nicole Kidman’s John Galliano for Dior dress worn to the 1997 Ceremony. Chartreuse, mink-trimmed, and silk, it has gone down in style history as one of the bests.

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Jennifer Lopez is known a very specific style of gowns: nude-colored, plenty of sparkle, and even more skin. But at the 2003 Academy Awards, the singer went for a romantic, one-shouldered gown in an unexpected mint hue that was a welcome change.

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As the off-screen counterpart to Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker can always be counted on for a daring fashion moment. This Chanel Couture gown from the 2010 ceremony was equal parts elegant and unexpected.

Jeff Vespa

She’s Cate the Great for a reason. Blanchett made a major statement in a lilac-hued Givenchy Couture gown with tonal embellishments at the 2011 Academy Awards.

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From the front, Hilary Swank was completely covered up, but when she turned around, that was the “Wow” moment. This Guy LaRoche dress was an instant classic.

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Beaded bodice, ombre purple, a full train: Zoe Saldana’s Givenchy couture dress certainly had a lot going on, but on the actress, it all worked in perfect harmony.

Steve Granitz

It’s not often you see a formal Peter Pan collar, but when it’s Chanel couture, that’s a different story. Kirsten Dunst was just the girl to pull off the bold neckline.

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Before cape gowns came with every red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow kicked off the trend in a simple, masterfully crafted Tom Ford number at the 2012 ceremony.

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It was the leg that launched 1,000 memes. Angelina Jolie made quite the statement in 2012 awards; a look that many others have since tried to emulate to less effect.

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If you are to believe stylist lore, Anne Hathaway’s Prada gown was a decision made just moments before hitting the carpet. True or not, it made for a refreshingly simple look.

Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

Naomi Watts tried out a new silhouette altogether in a fashion-forward take on the bandeau. It was a sparkling addition to the 2015 carpet.

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Rachel McAdams opted for a lesser-known designer, August Getty Atelier–a bold red carpet mood in itself–for the 2016 awards, wearing a slinky, jade number.

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The Academy Awards typically calls for strict black tie, but newcomer Daisy Ridley made a memorable showing in tea-length Chanel couture.

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A bubble-hem is not one typically seen on the red carpet, but Alicia Vikander made it work–it was custom Louis Vuitton, after-all–in 2016.

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Jessica Biel arrived on the red carpet for the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California wearing a busy gold dress topped with a busy gold necklace—and yet, it worked.

Photo by Getty Images.