The Oscars: too elite for viewers?


The Oscars have a relatively recent history of choosing unknown or independent films as Best Picture winners. From 2009’s “The Hurt Locker” sweeping blockbuster “Avatar,” to 2014’s “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” beating out high-profile films like “Selma” or “American Sniper,” the Oscars have seen a trend of choosing independent and less-widely-watched films over those more likely to be watched by a wide audience.

While audience choice may not be a big factor in whether a movie is objectively or subjectively good or bad, it plays a large role in determining whether a movie is to be considered the best picture of that year.

Compare 1994’s winner, “Forrest Gump,” which was the top domestic box office grosser, according to Box Office Mojo, to “Birdman,” which was the 78th highest domestic grosser, also according to Box Office Mojo.

This trend of picking movies for their artistic merit ignores audience choice, which plays just as much into a film’s success as does the Oscars. To be considered the Best Picture of that year, a movie should have commercial success as well as critical success.

Having one without the other creates a movie alienated from the main audience of any film: the general public, and thus one that cannot have the moniker of Best Picture.

To supplement this, the Oscars should add an additional category of award, focusing on one chosen by a sample of global movie watchers, to pick a film that works as an audience choice of Best Picture.