Pop Culture

Best Popular Movie is Fine, but These are the Awards the Academy Needs

If Thanos can destroy all life, surely he can create a few categories Infinity War could pick up a win in.
If Thanos can destroy all life, surely he can create a few categories Infinity War could pick up a win in. Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Unlike a lot of critics, I’m here to tell you that the decision by the Academy to create a Best Popular Movie Oscar is not the end of the world. It’s a dumb decision, but it’s a harmless one. Yes, it’s a naked play for attention from the masses, but it’s not as if rewarding a single movie for being popular is going to hurt the reputation of all the other categories; the fact that the winners of the top awards are rarely the actual best in their craft does enough of that on its own.

The term “Oscar Bait” exists for a reason, and it’s because there are certain things the voters go crazy for that freeze out more worthy competition. The Academy loves movies about the power of cinema for obvious reasons. They love when straight actors play members of the LGBT+ community and able-bodied actors play people with disabilities because it allows them to give the illusion of being diverse without actually hiring more LGBT+ actors and people with disabilities. Honestly, the only reason I’m glad the awards exist at all is because of all the advertising spent on “For Your Consideration” ads mean a couple of West Coast publications get to stick around for another year.

But since the Academy has proven itself open to the idea of adding more awards, why not add a few awards that should have existed long before Best Popular Movie was a twinkle in a desperate executive’s eye?
4. Best Credits Sequence

Here’s a fact: the opening credits to Seven are better than most of the movies released in 1995. They are a masterwork in setting a mood, and a great example of how a good credits sequence can foreshadow without giving everything away. Plenty of creative work happens before the plot of a movie kicks in, and rewarding those who come up with that creativity should be one of the most obvious things in the world. How many “Best Original Songs” really matter that much to the movie they’re in? And speaking of...
3. Best Use of Music

I’d call this “Best Soundtrack” but I’d hate for people to get the spirit of the award confused with the CDs full of songs you barely notice in the movies they support. Some directors know that popular music can be used just as effectively as the most beautiful score, going so far to write in the specific cues in their screenplays. Some of the best scenes in movie history are scored with previously recorded work. Yes, obviously reward the music written for the film, but celebrating those who know how to use existing music effectively isn’t a bad idea.
2. Best Trailer

Every year you tell yourself “that trailer was better than the final product” because trailer houses can work serious magic, especially now that we’ve entered the age where people aren’t afraid to lie in the trailers and use shots that don’t actually exist in the movie. Making a good trailer is an art form in itself, and when your entire awards show exists as an advertisement for movies anyway, it seems extra weird not to give an award to the best movie marketers of them all.
1. Best Stuntwork

The Academy has no issue heaping praise on special effects, but as movies become increasingly more animated, would it be the worst thing in the world to celebrate the brave men and women who risk serious bodily harm for our entertainment? Stuntwork is more than just throwing yourself down the stairs; it takes serious planning to make things look good without the stunt people injuring themselves too badly. This award was proposed every year from 1991 to 2012 and rejected over and over again because, apparently, stunts aren’t as valuable as makeup and costumes.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia