I didn’t say failure, I said niche, there’s a difference. Many niche movies are successful because they get made cheaply and don’t need to make a lot of money to be profitable. And there’s plenty of niche movies in Oscar history, not always the winners but many of the nominees. Whether it’s Lost in Translation or Crash or Finding Neverland or Capote or Babel or everyone of this year’s BP nominees except the winner; the Academy’s fondness for movies nobody but them watch is pretty well established.
And the Oscars have really no credibility. And a big part of the problem is that identity crisis. They want to be the film nerd awards but they also want to be the popular award show watched by millions. They need to pick one and stick to it. If they want to be the popular award show then they need to drop most of the really nerdy award and way drop all the nominations for movies like I listed above. Or be like BAFTA and embrace their nerdiness. IMHO I’d rather they go to the later, there’s a lot of good stuff in those film nerd films and there’s nothing wrong with giving them awards.
Crash was very popular. Made over a 100 million. Whether it was any good is another story. The Oscars has always been able to manage a middle ground with films like ‘Amadeus’ and ‘Schindler’s List’. For the most part you can look at an Best Picture winner and see that year’s zeitgeist. The ‘Best Years of Our Lives’ say.