LOS ANGELES: "Black Panther" actor Sterling K. Brown is torn about the Academy Awards new popular film category.
At an event for "This Is Us" at Paramount Studios, Brown, who played N'Jobu in the Marvel blockbuster, told variety.com that his stance on the category -- particularly as it relates to "Black Panther", which is eligible for 2018 nominations -- goes "back and forth".
"When I first heard of the category, the first question I had was, 'What is the criterion for being nominated in this category?'" Brown said.
"If it's something that can give it some sort of merit and legitimacy, then I think it's cool. But I think 'Black Panther' stands on its own merits regardless of its popularity as being a wonderful piece of art."
"Ryan Coogler is an artist," Brown continued.
"The man is three for three in his films thus far, and I don't see him striking out anytime soon. So whether it's in one category, the other, or both, the movie is worthy of recognition."
Earlier this month, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced a number of changes to the Oscars, including introduction of a new category.
From next year, there will be an award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. This is first time a new Oscar category has been introduced since Best Animated Film in 2001. Details on eligibility are yet to be announced.
Brown's sentiments echo those of many who have weighed in on the new category, saying it may give the Academy an excuse to leave commercially successful films -- which have historically not made serious headway with the Academy despite their potential artistic merits -- out of the Best Picture category in favour of more typical Oscars fare.