This new Academy Award has the Hypable staff looking back to films of the past that never got any sort of award recognition, but were pretty incredible movies.
Yes, I know, we’re all pretty much in agreement that this new category is problematic. It could definitely further the divide between ‘Best Picture’-worthy films and ‘Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film’ candidates, which seems like the total opposite of what the Academy should be hoping for.
Anyway, rather than focusing on what we wish the Academy would do, we couldn’t help but think about all the films that definitely should have gotten some sort of recognition for their contributions to the history of cinema, but were overlooked due to their blockbuster nature.
Here are the Hypable staff’s picks for movies that may have received a little golden man if the ‘Popular Film’ category had existed in their day:
‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’
Chosen by: Kristen Kranz
When I think back to popular films that didn’t get nearly the credit they deserve, the Hunger Games franchise is one that I am always drawn to. The first movie is good, the last 3, pretty great in my opinion. They took a very successful YA book franchise and make it a huge spectacle, turning the leads into household names and proving that YA adaptations could garner adoration from more than just fans of the books.
Katniss and her rebellion were just getting their start in Catching Fire, so you get to watch her shift from District 12 Victor and back to Tribute, and, ultimately, begin her transformation into the face of the rebellion. Katniss’ progression through the films is definitely worthy of an Oscar, and while this film may not have garnered any major award show love, this award would definitely have been theirs in 2013.
In the year of Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Thor: The Dark World, I firmly believe that Catching Fire could have come out on top. It’s the film that’s different, and the wild card after the solid first outing that was The Hunger Games. I think its the movie that got everyone truly excited about this franchise, and it energized a following that was anxious for a great book-to-film adaptation after some pretty major let downs.
‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2’
Chosen by: Andrew Sims
The grand finale of the Harry Potter series definitely would’ve receive the Oscar. Not only was it one of the best movies of the series (Don’t @ me — it ranked #2 on our poll), this new Oscar would’ve been given to Deathly Hallows, Part 2 as a nod to a series that blew up the worldwide box office eight times over.
And book loyalists can say what they want about Deathly Hallows, Part 2, but it was a great damn movie. It was fast-paced, exciting, heart-wrenching, and iconic. The movie was nominated in the Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup categories but won none of ’em.
Other major hits released the same year? Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Breaking Dawn, Part 1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Fast Five. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Cars 2. Thor.
While some of those films were great in their own right, none were the final film in a huge franchise.
Chosen by: Brittany Lovely
“I’m gliding here!” Yells Sandra Bullock in the 2000 cinematic masterpiece, Miss Congeniality. And if The Academy had the idea to include a “Most Popular” category way back when, Bullock would have been gliding straight towards an Oscar for Popular Feature Film.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or do not get E!, Miss Congeniality centers around FBI agent Sandra Bullock being the least repulsive candidate to go under cover in the Miss United States pageant to thwart a bombing. The problematic nature of that sentence aside, this film checks all the right boxes — a makeover montage, water glass music, the sexy, yet incredibly jaded FBI partner, and Michael Caine as the pageant guru. Sprinkle on Candice Bergen as the villain and it cannot be beat.
The escalation of the operation seamlessly intertwines with agent Gracie’s Hart’s internal transformation from critic to friend of her fellow pageant contestants.
While it didn’t crack the top ten in box office numbers (thanks in part to Mission Impossible 2, What Women Want, Gladiator, and Cast Away), but in terms of replayablity, Miss New Jersey takes the crown by a mile.
Chosen by: Karen Rought
It’s not difficult to sell why The Avengers should have won this category in 2012. This movie is one of the most unique films to grace theaters in terms of its production. Five independent films (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) paved the road for this movie to become a reality, and it worked with resounding success.
Now that we’ve just made it through the third Avengers movie, these films might seem like a dime a dozen, but it cannot be emphasized enough just how incredible a crossover event like this was back in 2012. And the box office reflected that. The Avengers broke a whole bunch of records, and is generally considered to be one of the best films in the MCU on any given day.
There were some other major releases that year, including The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, and Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, but The Avengers topped the box office by nearly $200 million more than second place. It would’ve been a crime against humanity if it didn’t also win the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film category.
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Chosen by: Danielle Zimmerman
I know I’ve written about my intense love for Pirates of the Caribbean: previously, but I honestly believe that, had this award been around in 2003 or so, it would’ve won by a landslide. No contest.
Swashbuckling pirates, a steamy romance, stunning CGI and digital effects, tons of humor, ORLANDO BLOOM… It was hard not to love this movie. It still is. (You know, aside from the taint of Johnny Depp that’s now on it.)
This movie broke box office predictions and launched a wave of Disney ride adaptations (as well as other kinds of adaptations of Disney fare). In a way, it changed how movies were made and it changed the way we interacted with them. Though the sequels weren’t as polished or entertaining (although I will say that I love #3 much more than others do), this movie was an undeniable hit. A box office juggernaut. I just wish it would’ve gotten the recognition it truly deserved.
Chosen by: Brandi Delhagen
It was the year 1999 and we were greatly gifted the techno sci-fi movie The Matrix. There was much buzz about the new year and Y2K and thankfully, Y2K ended up being a dud — but The Matrix was still on all of our minds. Well, at least mine. I remember watching it over and over again on HBO as a pre-teen and even recording it on one of my blank VHS tapes.
The Matrix was completely snubbed of the Best Picture category and everyone knew it. Especially since the film won the four categories it was nominated in – Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. Those are some great achievements! Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishbourne, Carrie Fisher and Hugo Weaving were brilliant choices for this series, and they were also robbed of any nominations. American Beauty ended up winning best picture that year, and while that movie was deserving, The Matrix could have paved the way for many “popular” movies to come.