When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced several changes recently, including the creation of a new “popular film” Oscar category, many pearls were clutched. But Albert Berger, a producer and Academy board member who says he was “very involved” in the recent decision, thinks everyone needs to take six deep breaths. Berger spoke to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the New York premiere of his latest film, Juliet, Naked, and Ethan Hawke is in that, so you can rest assured he is artsy enough to speak on this. “From my point of view, it’s not at all about popularity, this new award, it’s more about excellence in entertainment,” he told THR, suggesting that entertaining nonfilm majors is something movies are supposed to do and not just an unfortunate byproduct of capitalism.
He even pointed out that the very first Oscars did actually have separate “outstanding picture” and “unique and artistic picture” categories, and yet somehow, art survived. Berger also emphasized that the award would not just be about which movie commanded the box office, but was instead about awarding “excellence in movies that connect with people.” Even, apparently, people who don’t even have pearls to clutch.