Which films could win the new Oscar?


Black Panther, Mission Impossible: Fallout, The Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Ready Player OneImage copyright
Mavel/Getty/Pixar/Warner

It was good news for sequels and superheroes on Wednesday as the Academy announced a brand new category for the Oscars.

The next ceremony in February will be the first to include the new award for outstanding achievement in popular film.

Some industry figures aren’t totally delighted about it – with actor Rob Lowe tweeting “the film business passed away today”.

He’s being a bit dramatic if you ask us but that’s literally his job to be fair.

On the flip side – there are now a whole load of films which could suddenly find themselves in the Oscars race this winter.

Films that the public went to see in droves.

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Getty Images

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Chadwick Boseman and Benedict Cumberbatch starred in Avengers: Infinity War

Take a look at the movies that did well during the most recent awards season – like Three Billboards, The Shape of Water, and I, Tonya.

Great films, no doubt, and it’s not like any of them were box office flops – but equally, none of them would give the Avengers a run for their money at the box office.

“Not very many people watched The Shape of Water, and yet it won best picture,” says Ali Plumb, BBC Radio 1’s film critic.

“And that just makes people feel, ‘hmm, why should I care? This ceremony is for snooty arty people.'”

“And if a popular movie gets an award that’s great, but what’s more important is not that it wins, but that we as an audience feel involved.”

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20th Century Fox

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Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer starred in The Shape of Water

The gap between audiences and critics is an issue Plumb says has been “bubbling away for a long time”.

“When you combine the desire of popcorn cinema fans like myself to see their favourite people awarded, with #OscarsSoWhite from a few years ago, and #MeToo, there had to be something that changed, where people are getting to have their say.”

Along with some other changes, such as shortening the ceremony, the new category is designed to bring TV viewers back to the Oscars.

“People don’t realise the Oscars is there to make money, it’s not just to reward people for making the best art they can,” says Plumb.

“It’s also a TV show, and sponsorship with the Academy is a really big deal, but with the low ratings last year, they’re worried.”

Best popular film will recognise those movies which can be overlooked by critics and industry figures – but are hugely popular with the general public

Superhero movies, for example, like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War are the top two grossing films of the year so far in the US.

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Getty Images

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Samuel L Jackson and Holly Hunter lent their voices to The Incredibles 2 – but which category might the film now compete in?

Along with films such as Deadpool 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp, there will be plenty of superheroes keen to fly home with a little gold statue come February.

Similarly, very rarely do sequels trouble the best picture category at the Oscars – but that could be about to change.

(And there’s no shortage of them around at the moment.)

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and The Equalizer 2 battled it out at the box office last month when both were released in the US on the same weekend.

Both films could now find themselves at war once again – but this time for an Academy statuette.

“If the new category is going to be voted for by the public, then Mamma Mia could have a massive group of fans that will push it into the stratosphere,” says Plumb.

“It’s got so many big names and obviously Abba fans are plentiful – it could make it, everything is to play for.”

Sci-fi and fantasy films may be among the biggest beneficiaries of the new category.

To be fair, Oscars doesn’t always turn his nose up at the genre, with Avatar netting a best picture nomination in 2009.

A movie like Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which was released in March could now suddenly find itself in the Oscars race.

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Warner Bros

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Ready Player One: Could it bag an Oscar?

Spielberg, after all, is a veteran director, while the movie has the benefit of being a new and therefore more original title – unlike a sequel or franchise.

Solo: A Star Wars Story and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom could also benefit and may now get a look-in come February.

The new category does open up the possibility for musicals like The Greatest Showman to be nominated, but such films are few and far between.

The new category leaves animated films in an interesting position.

Will a movie like The Incredibles 2 now be submitted for best popular film instead of best animated film?

It would likely be eligible for both – but being nominated in one could harm its chances in the other.

There seem to be plenty of blockbusters filling cinema schedules at the moment – although, Plumb points out, there was a bit of a gap during the World Cup.

“It’s a slightly odd year to bring this category in – studios avoid releasing big blockbuster mainstream movies during the World Cup, purely because you’re getting free entertainment at home, at the pub or at your mates, and you don’t want to spend an extra £10 that you could use on something else,” he says.

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Getty Images

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Until now, films like Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, were more likely to be recognised at the MTV Movie Awards than the Oscars

But how about previous years? There are plenty of films that spring to mind which were overlooked by the Academy but huge with audiences.

“The Dark Knight would’ve been in this category,” says Plumb.

“And it’s an interesting situation there – we had a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger – but that movie was an absolutely unstoppable beloved super-film, and the fact that didn’t get at least a consideration was a surprise back in the day, so that would’ve been in contention.

“I don’t think it would ever be a comedy, I don’t think comedies have that groundswell anymore but we could’ve seen a Hangover nod, Bridesmaids could’ve been one.”

Other films which were box office titans but missed out on awards glory in recent years include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Harry Potter films, Beauty and the Beast and the Fast & Furious franchise.

All eyes will be on the next Oscars ceremony on 24 February 2019 to see who the first recipient of the new reward is.

Let’s just hope they announce the correct winner.

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