This Year’s Oscars Will Announce a “Most Popular Film” After All


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is bringing the Oscars back to the people—sort of.

The organization seems to have settled on a temporary middle ground in its quest to make the Oscars more appealing to casual moviegoers, amid continuously dwindling ratings for the broadcast and this year’s crop of nominees including more art house titles like The Power of the Dog and Drive My Car. Vanity Fair has confirmed that the 2022 ceremony will reveal a #OscarsFanFavorite movie during the show, as determined by the public. The Academy has a site for submissions (anyone can participate!), and will also tabulate all tweets that vote for a movie via the hashtag. (There is an additional #OscarsCheerMoment campaign, which requires a photo upload and boasts an extremely broad definition.)

For keen observers, this ploy surely resembles the “outstanding achievement in popular film” debacle. That proposal, announced by the Academy back in 2018, suggested that the group’s actual membership would vote on a blockbuster to take home a somewhat rivaling trophy to the best-picture Oscar winner. Intense, swift backlash to the idea led to an indefinite postponement and retooling that, depending on your perspective, may have found its new form today.

Perhaps this new campaign more accurately registers “popular”—as opposed to elite industry insiders choosing between Marvel and DC hits, say, it’ll be regular ol’ Twitter folk stumping for their faves. Which is to say, that small percentage of the small percentage of the population who use Twitter—now able to vote for their pick up to 20 (20!) times a day from February 14 to March 3. It’s unclear what kind of skew such a system will provide, but we’ll surely get some lean toward those most passionate (read: frequent) of tweeters.

The obvious impetus for the move is to tame the Jimmy Kimmels of the world, who’ve expressed outrage at the best-picture snub of great box office hope Spider-Man: Far From Home about titles both commercially small and critically derided. (Never mind that very popular movies, like dune and don’t look up, were in fact nominated for best picture.) Whether that movie is big enough to overcome weird Twitter passions remains to be seen. An extra incentive for a single person to vote over and over: Three of the voters will be randomly selected for a sweepstakes that fly winners out, all-expenses-paid, to present a winning statuette on the show.

This appears to be part of a larger effort, after last year’s insular Altman-esque approach, to broaden the Oscars’ audience. We’ll also have a rare Oscars-host announcement, teased Monday on Good Morning America (where it’ll happen tomorrow), and, I would guess, a few more controversial attempts at bringing in fresh eyeballs. With all these stunts, at least they’re holding our attention? But who knows what we’re in for next month.

The 2022 Oscars air March 27 at 8 p.m. ET, on ABC.

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