In 2009, Hugh Jackman presided over one of the greatest song-and-dance openers in the history of the Oscars, beginning with a pleading question: “Why don’t comic-book movies ever get nominated? How can a billion dollars be unsophisticated?”
He shame-facedly confessed to having skipped one of that year’s best-picture nominees: “The Reader,” Kate Winslet’s dreadful slog through the Holocaust. “I really meant to see ‘The Reader,’ ” he sang. “I even went down to the theater, but there was a line — all the people seeing ‘Iron Man’ a second time.”
The academy, it seems, has finally come around to Jackman’s point of view: It has announced the creation of a new Academy Award, this one for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” i.e., Best Picture That People Actually Went To See.
The film snobs have scoffed, and one can understand their concern: It would be terrible if this undermined the artistic and intellectual reputation of the academy, an organization that has just added to its ranks Emilia Clarke, an actress so god-awful she routinely fails to live up to the dialogue on “Game of Thrones” (she made oatmeal out of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on stage in New York) along with the great mind behind “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”
This is pure terror, and it is delicious.
The powers that be in Hollywood are alarmed by the declining viewership of the Oscars, which mirrors that of other formerly big-time events such as the Super Bowl. The Oscars’ audience tanked almost 20 percent in 2018 as hordes of people tuned out that sanctimonious little twerp Jimmy Kimmel.
The film that won Best Picture in 2018 (Quick: Can you name it?) did about one-tenth the business comic-book smash “Black Panther” has — and it was the top-grossing Best Picture in years.