This year’s Academy Awards will feature an entirely new category: “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.” Not everyone is on board with the idea, but one big-name actor, Mark Wahlberg, has spoken up to praise the category. Speaking to Variety, Wahlberg said some of his past movies might have been contenders for the category.
“Maybe if they’d had the category before, we’d have won a couple of them,” Wahlberg said. “We’ve had some really commercially successful films that we think certainly warranted that kind of notoriety. We make films that we want people to enjoy and if we get those kind of accolades, fantastic. If not, we make the movies for audiences to enjoy.”
Wahlberg is known for big-budget films that don’t always score with critics but are often huge commercial hits like the Transformers franchise. He’s never won an Oscar, but his performance as a Boston police detective in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. He also shared the Best Picture Oscar nomination for The Fighter. He starred in that movie, and his castmates, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, took home Best Supporting actor and actress Oscar wins, respectively.
There are no specifics yet about the criteria for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film,” but those will come in due time. The Academy also plans to make this year’s Academy Awards broadcast shorter, while the show date itself has moved up a few weeks to the start of February.
The changes are reportedly due to lower viewership for the Oscars. The total number of viewers for the 2018 show was the lowest in the history of the Academy Awards. The huge dropoff might have had something to do with its biggest winning films doing poorly at the box office, meaning they reached fewer people which in turn gives people less of a reason to tune in. For example, Best Picture winner The Shape of Water made only $63 million at the US box office since it came out in December. Gary Oldman won Best Actor for Darkest Hour, which made only $55 million domestic. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, whose actors Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell picked up wins for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, made only $54 million in the US. I, Tonya, which starred Allison Janney who won Best Supporting Actress, has only made $30 million domestic.
It makes sense, then, that the Academy would want bigger, more popular films to get recognised more so more people, in theory at least, choose to tune in. Blockbuster hits like new entries in the Star Wars and Marvel franchises do sometimes get nominations and wins, but these often come in technical categories and not the main ones.
What do you make of the new Oscars popular movie category? Let us know in the comments below!