The world isn't the same as it once was—and soon the Oscars won't be either. On Wednesday, the Academy announced that it would be making a few "improvements" to adapt to our "changing world" by shortening the telecast to a tight three hours, moving the air date, and—in what is likely a grab for better ratings—adding a new category for "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film."
According to IndieWire, the new "Best Popular Film" category is an attempt by the Academy to draw more viewers, who are apparently driven away by the length of the show and the complete absence of action stars. It remains unclear, too, precisely how they're going to decide what "best" entails, since, if you've attended high school, "best" and "most popular" don't usually mean the same thing.
Still, if the Academy wants to get people watching a seemingly stoned James Franco read words off a teleprompter, they'll have to do more than invite the popular kids. So, in the spirit of see-through marketing ploys, below are some suggestions the Academy should consider if it really wants to get more people to watch:
Best Film Your Mom Repeatedly Texted You About Seeing, but You Never Got Around To
I don't know about you, but my mom rarely goes to the cinema. They renovated the one theater in my hometown in Jersey, and it's just too much of an ordeal for her. There's a bar, reclining seats, and waiters scuffling in and out during the previews. When she does catch a flick, though, she texts me about it with a ferocity only matched by when she informs me that she ran into an old friend's mom in the parking lot of some local establishment. More often than not, she's attracted to stories that could have ended in tragedy, but a hero saves the day. Usually they're based on real-life events. Think Sully or that one where Tom Hanks fights a bunch of pirates. (I guess they almost always include Tom Hanks.) You know—simple, dramatic tales with clear, happy endings.
This gold statute is for you, Mom. You deserve it.
Best Coming-of-Age Film Produced by A24, Directed by an Actor
You're not truly an artist until you put a relative pause on your acting, ink a deal with the prolific production company A24, and direct your first feature film, a coming-of-age story vaguely inspired by how you grew up before you became an actor. You have to capitalize on that nostalgia. Following Greta Gerwig's Ladybird (a.k.a. the film that made it cool to jump out of a moving vehicle before that Drake song), we now have Jonah Hill's directorial debut, Mid90s , which takes place in the mid 90s. This thing has it all: giant skateboards, that one kid from Manchester by the Sea, preteens climbing fences. (When's the last time you saw a kid climbing a chain-link fence to avoid the police?) This is how you attract the millennials.
(Paul Dano would not qualify with his new film, as he adapted a Richard Ford novel, and it's being produced by IFC. Sorry, Paul!)
Best Fast & Furious Film to Come Out in Whatever Year It Currently Is
In 2009, when I was a senior in high school, Brian O'Conner simply owed Dominic Torretto a ten-second car. And now, nearly a decade and eight movies later, our old street-racing pals are involved in foreign government conspiracies and jumping out of planes and from car to car on a runway that's 26 miles long. It has to be pretty fun thinking of this shit, no? As a writer, you're not even limited by the constraints of math or reality. It's a particular skill, taking a bunch of auto-mechanics and turning them into renegades that must constantly prevent apocalyptic scenarios. An imagination that deserves much more than a bunch of our money in ticket sales.
Best Unfunny Comedy with the Rock That Gets Us All Talking About Him Running for President Again
Best Version of Timothée Chalamet in a Motion Picture
As the Ringer noted a few weeks ago, it's almost Timothée Chalamet season again! So, which do you prefer: a beautiful boy with short hair next to Steve Carrell giving another serious role a shot, a scrawny New England pot dealer also with pretty short hair, or a long-haired young man in a fucking Woody Allen movie?
Best Picture Featuring a Highly Regarded Actor Who Just Plays a Dirty Old Man Now
We're looking at you, Robert De Niro.
Best Film to Put on in the Background While You're Doing Other Shit
This would be a shoe-in for anything made by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, or James Franco. A straightforward plot with marijuana and repeated hijinks? Sick. I can mindlessly scroll through Instagram for 90 minutes and occasionally look up.
Best Comedy That Will Eventually Age Horribly
Say, Animal House.
Best Film with an Aggressive Marketing Campaign on Public Transportation in Major Cities
Did I see Amy Schumer's newest comedy? I didn't, but I did see her face repeatedly pass me by on the side of a bus! Congratulations!
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