The National Association of Film Critics would like to come forth in opposition to the changes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recently announced.
Firstly, and most importantly, the decision to present certain awards during commercial breaks is abhorrent. Each category is equally deserving of time and attention from the Academy as each category honors those who have enriched the cinematic experience. While highlights of these segments will be shown later, this does not afford the awardees the level of respect given to other awardees such as, presumably, the best actor and best actress despite these awardees having made contributions to their films that are equally outstanding.
The shorter time for the ceremony is likely to impede on the ability of the awardees to share their thoughts, an honored tradition of the ceremony, and in doing so robs the often overlooked members of the film industry of the only time many of them receive the spotlight. The earlier award ceremony date, seems unnecessary but not detrimental.
In regards to the award for Popular Film, no criteria have been announced. It is possible it will become a worthy addition. However, the information currently available suggests it exists to award films previously deemed unfit to receive major awards purely because the Academy wants to pander to a wider audience. These films are already highly successful at the box office and should not need further validation during the awards season unless deserving of it by their other merits.
Sometimes, unfortunately, great films are overlooked, which is something the NAFC is attempting to remedy. However, this does not mean a mediocre film should be given awards (such as an award for Popular Film) if it is not deserving of them. We believe if every film were to receive an award, the Academy Awards would be cheapened and it is better to risk failing to recognize an exemplary film than to undermine the integrity of the awards used to recognize so many other exemplary films every year.
Overall, the changes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has chosen to implement all seem to have been made in an attempt to gain viewers for the televised ceremony rather than gain viewers for excellent films released in the preceding year by recognising excellence in all aspects of filmmaking.
9/6/18: The NAFC would like to commend the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on its decision to postpone the Popular Film category. The category would only serve to signify that the Academy feels certain films are a lower form of entertainment, to cheapen the prestige of winning an Academy Award, and to prevent films that may be deserving from potentially receiving a nomination or award for Best Picture.