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With new category, Oscars are now a popularity contest

In this Feb. 26, 2017 file photo, Oscar statuettes appear backstage at the Oscars in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Not since Faye Dunaway shouted "La La Land!" has an Oscar announcement caused quite as much chaos as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decision to create a new Academy Awards category for "outstanding achievement in popular film."

The film academy's surprise announcement Wednesday proved remarkably unpopular, at least among film critics and some academy members. Actor Rob Lowe pronounced the Oscars dead, "survived by sequels, tent-poles and vertical integration."

The other new changes were met with a mix of praise and grumbling. Many applauded the dramatic move up the calendar to February 9 in 2020. Perhaps inevitable was the move to shrink the broadcast to three hours and remove some categories from the live telecast.

But Hollywood now finds itself contemplating a very awkward popularity contest.

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