LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 25: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S., a view of the Oscar statuettes backstage during the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Richard Harbaugh/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

The Oscars Make a Bid for Relevancy With New ‘Fan-Favorite’ Vote

Is this 'Spider-Man: No Way Home's time to shine?

As the Oscars struggle to maintain viewership, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is looking to tap into younger markets. Their latest pitch is a collaboration with Twitter, which will allow fans to vote on their favorite film of the year using the hashtag #OscarsFanFavorite. The film that wins the most fan votes by March 3 will be recognized during the awards broadcast on March 27. Will they win an Oscar? Is this a new category? No and no. The acknowledgment of the fan-favorite film is simply that, an acknowledgment.

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But wait, there’s more! Three Twitter users who voted will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to present an Oscar at the 2023 ceremony. Okay, but … why? One of the draws of the Oscars is watching celebrities in fabulous outfits presenting awards. Who wants to see some jabronies from the internet who voted for Venom: Let There Be Carnage 387 times on that stage? Not this internet jabronie, that’s for sure.

Meryl Johnson, the vice president of digital marketing at the Academy said, “We’re thrilled to partner with Twitter to help build an engaged and excited digital audience leading up to this year’s ceremony, … Through these activations, social media users around the world now have more opportunities to engage with the show in real time, find a community and be a part of the experience in ways they’ve never been able to before.”

It’s true that most of the fun of awards shows now is live-tweeting and meme-ing memorable moments. But this feels inorganic and extremely low stakes. It also resembles the 2019 push to add a category for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” which was eventually rejected by Academy members.

So far, Spider-Man: No Way Home appears to be leading the pack:

Other popular choices include Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Andrew Garfield hive rise UP), Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and The Suicide Squad. While the hashtag may drive engagement and clicks, it still remains to be seen whether or not this will translate into actual viewership numbers for the awards ceremony.

The Oscars finds itself struggling in the changing landscape of cinema. As movie studios shrink the slates to genre films and comic book adaptations, there is less room for the A-list prestige picture. Films like Gladiator, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Chicago, etc. have given way to smaller indie films like Moonlight, The Shape of Water, and Nomadland. This is not, of course, a bad thing. These movies are phenomenal and deserve recognition. But it’s difficult to convince the average person to tune into an awards show where they don’t recognize any of the films or actors nominated.

Films are also competing with games, the internet, social media, the pandemic, and an endless source of streaming content that includes many of the nominated films. Viewers who were once able to see every nominated film at a single multiplex now find the offerings scattered across a wide variety of channels and streamers, each of which require their own subscription. Film has been decentralized to the point where only the biggest entries pull the focus of national conversation.

Is it any wonder then that the Academy is seeking out fan-favorite voting? In times like these, Spider-Man: No Way Home being great may be the only thing viewers can agree on.

Will you be voting for a fan-favorite film? What makes the cut for you in 2021?

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Richard Harbaugh/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.