Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced some changes to the Oscars going forward, including a new award category for “achievement in popular film.” The decision has left many critics scratching their heads, but there’s one film buff who thinks the “popular film” category addition is a great move. In the below opinion piece, Gregg Turkington — who co-hosts the Adult Swim film review show On Cinema at the Cinema alongside Tim Heidecker — offers his take on the new Oscars category and some more changes he’d like to see the Academy make in the near future. We have agreed to publish Turkington’s essay unedited.
Oscar, you finally got it right.
The modern movie age has been the Best in cinema history, as experts and buffs alike can attest to. Directors like Peter Jackson, and film series such as The Hobbit, The Mummy, James Bond, Percy Jackson, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Jack Reacher have kept cinemas busier than ever and set a standard of excellence that the old filmmakers failed to achieve, though they also made classic movies like Casablanca or Gone With the Wind.
Our TV show On Cinema At The Cinema co-hosted by myself and Tim Heidecker has advocated a dramatic shake-up in the Oscar world for many years. Thanks to our advocacy, our loyal viewers have bombarded the Academy with cards and letters to the point that Oscar had to take notice, and more importantly, take action. Our annual Oscar night special analysis has won awards itself and has become to most turned-to source for expertise and commentary on the night’s awards. But sadly, more often than not, we have sadly had to point out where Oscar got it wrong. “Oscar, we have a problem.”
Everyone agreed that we have needed an Oscar award that really awarded the “Best Picture”. It is a disgrace when popular and acclaimed movies like The Hobbit, Star Trek II In San Francisco, The November Man, I, Frankenstein, and Sully leave the theater without Oscar Gold in their hands, meanwhile movies that no one has heard of or seen, with actors that are not known, walk away with Oscar Gold that they never earned and likely do not even appreciate.
My proposal to have two Oscar ceremonies per year in order to adequately reward ALL the great movies coming out has also been under serious consideration, I’m told. On our Oscar Night special this year we staged a “Super Oscars” competition to find the true best picture of the past 20 years, which was unanimously won by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring. Oscar was watching. He creakily raised his golden arms and opened his mouth, much like the Tin Woodman in 1939’s Wizard of Oz, and let out a cry: “The experts have spoken.” Because this new award seems rooted in the work we experts have done.
The next step is to retroactively award the True Best Popular Pictures of the last 90 years. This could be accomplished with a committee or Board whose decision is final, made up of top film critics who have the expertise to disburse these Awards correctly. As the president of the Victorville Film Archive, the largest collection of movie videotapes in North America and possibly the world, and as the top-watched movie critic with a Guinness Award under my belt for watching 501 Movies in 501 Days, and also my acting roles in Gregg Turkington’s Decker Vs Dracula and Ant-Man, I would head this committee, which would also include film buffs and expert such as Tim Heidecker, co-host of On Cinema at the Cinema, and actor Joe Estevez, star of over 400 movies. All decisions would be final, and the Academy could announce the retroactive awards this year on Christmas Day, to make the holiday all the more special. For movie buffs, seeing these awards given to the movies that deserved them would be the greatest Christmas gift of all, and every film buff would say that Oscar has really “gone ahead, and made my day”. And for the ignorant naysayers that are against this new Oscar award… “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” Yes, Oscar, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”