The Oscars Are Giving a Prize to Twitter's Favorite Movie

Is this how 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' gets its moment at the Academy Awards?

Spider-Man: No Way Home Tom Holland
Sony Pictures

Since the Oscar nominations last week, some babies (read: Jimmy Kimmel and Kevin Smith) have been angry that Spider-Man: No Way Home did not get a Best Picture nomination despite being a cultural phenomenon and topping 2021's domestic box-office chart. (Hasn't it won enough? It has the hearts and minds of the public!) Now the Academy has announced a new contest that is a pretty transparent way to get Spidey, or at least a populist Spidey equivalent, into the telecast. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the March 27 ceremony will include a tribute to the 2021 movie that gets the most votes on Twitter via the hashtag #OscarsFanFavorite. (If you don't want to go so public with your support for Space Jam: A New Legacy, you can also submit your pick here.) There's also a category for #OscarsCheerMoment where so-called movie lovers can submit their favorite scenes, some of which will be broadcast on Oscar night. I suspect that the people behind this activation, or whatever you want to call it, are thinking the big No Way Home reveal is destined to make the list. Can I suggest the sex scene between a woman and a car in Titane? What about Baby Annette's Hyper Bowl performance? Or the titular duel in the The Last Duel? (I actually did cheer in the theater during that very gory climax.) 

The Oscars have been trying to institute something similar for a while now as a perhaps misguided way to combat the show's sinking broadcast ratings. In 2018, a proposed award for the best "popular film" was met with widespread backlash, and the idea for the category was eventually dropped. #OscarsFanFavorite is a resurrection of sorts, though it has the potential to be an even bigger disaster. Of course, one assumes the telecast producers are hoping No Way Home is the victor, but have they considered how diehard fans can game the internet? We assume the Snyderverse champions are already summoning their army, but they'll meet an unexpected blockade when they realize that only films qualifying for Best Picture consideration are eligible. (Is this Sing 2's moment?)

This mishegoss is already receiving plenty of social-media eye rolls from the Oscars' core base: the people who actually tweet about movies of all kinds, most of whom are thrilled that Drive My Car nabbed a Best Picture nomination over No Way Home. It's all a goofy Band-Aid for the Academy's bigger identity crisis, but at least the end result should be somewhat amusing. We'll just try to forget that whatever time is devoted to honoring the "fan favorite" on Oscar night could have been spent on speeches from the winners of the Governors Awards' lifetime achievement equivalents—Samuel L. Jackson, Elaine May, Liv Ullmann, and Danny Glover. Is that not enough star power for you? 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.