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For director Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed one of this summer's blockbuster hits Mission: Impossible - Fallout, one might think that the Academy's controversial Popular Film award might seem somewhat appealing, since the award show gives little recognition to action flicks these days. McQuarrie has offered his unfiltered opinion on the potential new Oscar category and has some ideas about what the focus of film recognition should be for the Academy in general. In his words:
I can be diplomatic, but fuck it. There was talk of a popular film category. I'm really glad they're not doing that, because I think the notion of that is to shy away from the fact that a -- I don't care, revoke my academy membership... I think that there's a point at which we've lost sight of the fact that what we're here to do first and foremost -- sorry if this sounds offensive to anybody -- is to entertain people and to move people. A part of me looks at that and says, 'Well, there are big movies that do that too.'
These are some blunt thoughts about the Popular Film category, Christopher McQuarrie said in a recent interview with Collider. He also brings up an important point about how if the new award was added it would divide the blockbuster hits from quality films when they can in fact be one and the same. He brought up how there once was a time when movies had to be epic to become Best Picture and they were the highest-grossing of the year -- think Titanic and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Christopher Quarrie thinks somewhere along the line the definition of Best Picture shifted from being externally out there and innovative. The most recent recognition looks to commend the innovation of telling a unique story or bringing to attention a particular subject -- it's more about how it makes you feel, not how much it dazzled you cinematically. For example, the last decade of Best Picture winners primarily recognized small-budget dramas with powerful messages including Moonlight, Spotlight and 12 Years a Slave.
Over the summer when the Academy announced a new Popular Film category for the upcoming Oscars show, it sparked quite a debate among the film community and cinephiles, most of whom disagreed with the category addition. With the Academy backed into a corner, the group ultimately decided to shelve the new award for perhaps another year, or at least give themselves some time to better think it over.
Instead of the controversial Popular Film category, Christopher Quarrie suggested an alternative new category: the addition of one to award stunt workers and teams. In his words:
I can't think of a film recently that might qualify, but, that's an art, that's a skill, that's a craft. Those are people risking their lives and doing things that are absolutely and utterly truly amazing and are so much a part of an experience like that. Not just in films like this. You go look at Hell or High Water. Lone Survivor. The stunts in that movie were absolutely incredible. In terms of a new category, I think you need to do that.
It's a category that has been advocated for quite some time by filmmakers such as Edgar Wright and actress Helen Mirren. It's a great idea that seems to be an obvious addition to be included, since the Academy recognizes almost every other job it takes to put together a film. It would also allow for popular films to be recognized in a new category and a movie such as Mission: Impossible - Fallout would certainly have a good chance at an Oscar win in this category.
Before the Academy decided to hold off on the new category, Black Pantherwas at the center of conversation concerning what would win the first Popular Film award. Due to its high acclaim from critics, box office records and impact on diversity in film many believe the film should be recognized for more than a Visual Effects award. Black Panther will now be fighting for a chance at Best Picture as Disney pushes forward with its Oscar campaign.
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.