The Oscars have always had the same problem: They keep giving awards to movies based on their quality, not how much money they made. Sometimes those two ideas overlap; Titanic and The Return of the King both received the ceremony’s top prize as well as a gazillion bucks at the box office. But nowadays only franchise blockbusters make bank, and sorry, Kevin Smith and Jimmy Kimmel, Spider-Man: No Way Home was never going to be grouped alongside Drive My Car. Sadly, the Academy’s solution to this has been a hot mess.
It’s called “#OscarsFanFavorite,” and it enlists social media users to pick a special trophy. It’s like the much-mocked and quickly aborted “Popular” film Oscar, only this one has yet to be axed. Was it a good idea to put their trust in a place featuring both chuckleheads and rabid fans? Probably not. Recently it was revealed that the frontrunner wasn’t the new Spider-Man but rather Amazon’s poorly reviewed new Cinderella. Another, we’re now learning, is a Johnny Depp movie that was barely released.
Presenting your #OscarsFanFavorite leaderboard. Continue casting your vote by:
Voting closes on Thursday, March 3rd. pic.twitter.com/dqAOqFEXSy
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 28, 2022
That film is Minamata, and perhaps in a world in which Depp wasn’t seen as a negative presence with nasty public legal battles, it might have hit theaters nationwide. Instead, the movie, in which the fallen star plays famed photojournalist W. Eugene Smith, was all but buried, at least stateside. And yet there it is, chosen by the people as a “popular” film, competing with the likes of Army of the Dead, Malignant, Sing 2, The Suicide Squad, and, yes, Spider-Man: No Way Home. (Dune, The Power of the Dog, and Tick, Tick…Boom!, all nominated for major Oscars, are also on there.)
So what is a barely released movie starring an actor who was booted from a major franchise doing on the #OscarsFanFavorite short list? Well, Depp has a lot of fans. And those fans seem to have rallied to the aid of a movie few have even heard of. The Information Superhighway, it is a magical place.