1. Movies

5 films to consider for the popular Oscar, from 'Black Panther' to 'Paddington 2'

JONNY COURNOYER   |   Paramount\uFEFF This image released by Paramount Pictures shows actor-director John Krasinski on the set of \u201CA Quiet Place,\u201D with Noah Jupe. (Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures via AP)
JONNY COURNOYER | Paramount\uFEFF This image released by Paramount Pictures shows actor-director John Krasinski on the set of \u201CA Quiet Place,\u201D with Noah Jupe. (Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Published Aug. 15, 2018

All hell broke loose when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new category last week to honor "outstanding achievement in popular film."

The highly criticized move raised far more questions than it answered. When will the category be implemented? What films will be eligible for consideration? What does popularity mean, really? And, my personal favorite, why?!

The cynical take is that the category is merely a consolation prize for Black Panther or a desperate attempt to get the people who keep going to Jurassic Park movies to tune in for the Oscars.

But let's consider a future where an Academy Award for Best Popular Picture is actually good. Here are five films that could make the new category worthwhile.

Black Panther

The only way Black Panther doesn't score a nomination is if the new award isn't implemented until the 2020 ceremony.

Panther is tailor-made for a fan-favorite honor — a superhero flick that brought in more than $1.3 billion globally and earned critical raves and invigorated interest in a genre that plenty of people thought was beyond saving. There's just one problem: Black Panther should be nominated for, nay, should win, best picture.

Black Panther is the highest-grossing film of the year so far in addition to being one of the best-reviewed. It's a lock.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

If Black Panther is maybe too good for the popular-film category, then the latest installment of the M:I franchise is just right. The sixth film is full of high-risk, high-reward stunt work and proves that it's possible for a film series to still churn out exceptional quality.

The movie is so good that it makes us forget how weird Tom Cruise is as a person and lets us get lost in how good Tom Cruise is as an action star. Fallout reminds audiences how much dumb fun can be had at the movies. It's a shoo-in.

A Quiet Place

Give or take a Get Out, horror often has a difficult time getting a foothold at the Oscars, which is why a popular-film category is the perfect fit for A Quiet Place.

The sci-fi horror flick helmed by John Krasinski, who also starred alongside wife Emily Blunt, did major business at the box office, a clever, tense thriller for audiences eager to be scared silly. A Quiet Place was smart and scary and deserves a little recognition beyond technical achievements come Oscar night.

Paddington 2

I can hear your scoffs from here. "That's a dumb kids movie, a sequel and only made $40 million domestically. You're mad." First of all, rude. Second, how quickly you forget that Babe was nominated for best picture in 1995.

Now, Paddington 2 is — appallingly — not going to be nominated for the big prize come Oscar night, but the film scored rave reviews and brought in more than $220 million globally at the box office.

But more than that, Paddington 2 shared a message of empathy and love at a time when such compassion is in short supply. Maybe Paddington 2 didn't make the biggest splash at the box office, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't have been more popular.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The heart-rending documentary about humble humanitarian Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood is both critically acclaimed and doing big bucks at the box office, especially for a doc.

Like Paddington, it's an easy call: For what it is, Neighbor is popular. And deserves to be more so. Include it in the category and boost its profile because films that are good, that are accessible and appealing to wide audiences deserve to be championed.


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