If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Of all the Academy Awards, the Best Picture award is the one that receives the most criticism. In this week's LEOG, the League toyed with the idea of making a new Oscar directed at awarding the best "nerd" film. I think Cyrus said it best by calling it a "Best Genre Film". Given the Academy's very-long storied history of snubbing influential and imaginative movies in favor of subdued dramas, perhaps it is time to bring BACK two Best Picture Awards.
Now, many of you are thinking to yourselves "there's never been TWO Best Picture Awards". Surprisingly, the very first Academy Awards had such a situation where there was an award for Outstanding Production and an award for Unique and Artistic Production. The Outstanding Production was meant to go to the best "popular" film that year, which was "Wings". The latter award went to the best artsy production that year, "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans". However, the Academy dropped the system the following year and only one "Best Picture" award was given after that. To this day, the Academy has classified "Wings" as the first Best Picture, probably because it was the last to be announced.
Now, bringing back this system to our modern times would likely solve numerous criticisms facing the Academy Awards today. It would be a chance to recognize popular blockbusters with an award while simultaneously granting credit to lesser known films in a different category. In turn, this would also attract a larger audience to the awards while giving them hope that their favorite film might win. Most importantly, it would put an end to heinous tradition of "snubbing" great films.
Several of the most influential movies were "snubbed" by the Academy and instead the Best Picture award went to a film that hardly stood the test of time. Like say, "Around the World in 80 Days" beating out "The Ten Commandments"; "My Fair Lady" beating "Dr. Strangelove" and "Mary Poppins"; and "The Sting" beating "The Exorcist". Then we have seen the Academy's accused "bias" against blockbuster films, especially when said blockbuster deals with science fiction or fantasy. Cases like "Star Wars" losing to "Annie Hall", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" losing to "Chariots of Fire", or "E.T." losing to "Gandhi". Oh sure, "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" was the first fantasy film to ever win the award, but bear in mind Jackson and company had to try THREE times before they finally got it.
Oscar snubs have long jaded film lovers but no snub burned more than when "The Dark Knight" wasn't even nominated for a Best Picture in 2008. Here on Spill, the rage against the Academy for overlooking Nolan's Batman sequel spawned numerous blogs and several angry comments. The internet was flooded with similar responses. Apparently, the backlash was so strong that the Academy then proceeded to expand the Best Picture nominee list to 10 movies in 2009, allowing several popular films to receive nominations. But this was an empty solution to the "snubbing". Sure heavily favored film like "Up", "District 9", and "Inglourious Basterds" were nominated, but the night belonged exclusively to the dramas the Academy loves to award anyways, namely "The Hurt Locker" and "Precious". Even this year, the Award is now being favored to go "The King's Speech" or maybe "The Social Network", which are subdued dramas. Meanwhile imaginative films like "Black Swan, "Inception" and "Toy Story 3" are just there to attract audiences.
So instead of just expanding the Best Picture nominee list to 10 films, I propose to shorten it back to 5 while creating a new category and renaming the old one. "Best Picture" can be called "Best Drama Picture", because let's be honest, it'll be a cold day in hell if a comedy ever gets the award. Films under this category will be the dramas that will be nominated anyways by the Academy as the "best". Meanwhile, a new category can be created that will be called, "Best Genre Picture" or "Best Imaginative Picture". Pictures under this category either had to excel in production values while still being great stories or films that were considered the "best" in their respective genre of either science fiction, fantasy, horror, or even comedy and action. To preserve drama's "prestige" in the show, the "Best Drama Picture" can be presented last as usual, but "Best Genre Picture" can be the penultimate award just to keep audiences tuned in.
Going by the logic enumerated above, I would classify this year's Best Picture nominees into the following two categories: Best Drama Picture's nominees are "The King's Speech", "The Social Network", "The Fighter", "The Kids Are All Right", and "Winter's Bone"; meanwhile Best Genre Picture's nominees are "127 Hours" (Thriller genre), "Black Swan" (Horror genre), "Inception" (Sci-Fi genre), "Toy Story 3" (Animated or Comedy genre), and "True Grit" (Western genre). Looks much cleaner doesn't it? The added benefit to this system is that this will give hope to fans of the very popular films like "Inception", "Toy Story 3" and "True Grit" that their favorite film has a higher chance of walking away with Oscar gold.
Some have argued against awarding blockbuster films with Oscar gold as they claim it will ignore other lesser-known works. But the Academy is now facing a crisis, their most popular broadcasts have always been when a blockbuster film was in the running for the Best Picture: "Titanic" in 1997 attracted 57.25 viewers (the highest in the broadcast's history) and "Avatar" in 2009 attracted 41 million viewers. Their least popular broadcasts have occurred when no blockbusters are recognized: namely "No Country for Old Men" (the lowest in the show's history of recording viewers). The Academy NEEDS to put popular films in the running for Best Picture to keep the broadcast viewings up; but years from now, people will start recognizing that the popular films will definitely NOT win the award and so will tune out the broadcast. The two Best Picture awards solves this problem by increasing the audience's chances of "rooting" for their favored film to win.
So what do you guys think of this proposal?