The announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would be adding a category for Best Achievement in Popular Film has been met with quite a bit of derision from those in the industry. Many people have voiced their concerns and questions about the new category, as well as offering alternative categories that would have worked better. However, not everyone hates the Popular Movie Category. Actor Lil Rel Howery thinks that the addition of the category is overdue and would have netted Jordan Peele's Get Out another Oscar, as he explained:
It is hard to argue with Lil Rel Howery that Get Out wouldn't have been one of the front-runners had the Popular Movie category existed at the 90th Academy Awards. The social thriller was one of the most discussed movies of last year and it really was something of a cultural moment. We've even picked it as the Best Picture loser that would have won this award at this year's ceremony. If nothing else, it would have had a serious shot. As Lil Rel Howery noted when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Get Out made a lot of money. Jordan Peele's film was very popular and while it didn't make the kind of money that Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Beauty and the Beast made, where it did excel was profitability, making $255 million on a measly budget of $4.5 million.
Since the Popular Movie category wasn't around for this year's ceremony, Get Out landed 4 nominations, with 1 win for Best Original Screenplay for Jordan Peele. So given its popularity, acclaim and profitability, you can see how Lil Rel Howery would have liked to have seen Get Out come home with more gold, and the new category might have provided that.
The real question though is whether or not Get Out would have been nominated for Best Picture if the Popular Film category had been around. That is one of the major concerns about the new category. The supposed thought process for adding the new category is to honor more films that more people have seen and thus draw more viewers to the broadcast. The Academy added a lot of new more diverse people to its membership, but didn't bother to see how that influenced the Best Picture landscape before adding this category.
We won't know until next year's awards, but it seems possible that this new category might actually hurt a popular film's chances to bet nominated for Best Picture. It could be a way for stuffier voters to cop out and keep the Best Picture race primarily full of prestige dramas, while still throwing a bone to blockbusters with the Popular Film category. If that is how it shakes out, the question becomes what's better, a Best Popular Film win or a Best Picture nomination?
You can next see Lil Rel Howery in Netflix's post-apocalyptic novel adaptation Bird Box, hitting the service on December 21. You can see that and the other huge original movies coming to the platform in our guide and check out our release schedule for the biggest movies still heading to theaters in 2018.