In recent years, the Oscars have been accused of taking an overly narrow view of what constitutes a best picture, prioritizing a certain kind of art-house film above all others.

Not anymore.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the 8,000-strong group considered among the most influential in the entertainment industry, made a number of firsts Tuesday when it announced its best picture candidates. And populism ran through many of them.

It chose among its eight nominees an installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“Black Panther”), the first modern superhero film to land the honor. It went with a movie from Netflix (“Roma”), the hugely popular streaming company of 58 million U.S. subscribers that has angered traditionalists with its indifference to the theatrical experience. And it selected a crowd-pleasing rock biopic (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) that had been savaged by many critics and thought dead just two weeks ago.

“The irony is, the year they decided against the ‘popular’ Oscar, look at how popular the movies they ended up with really were,” said John Sloss, executive producer of the best-picture-nominated “Green Book,” referring to a shelved plan last summer to create a separate category for blockbusters.

It is the first time in nearly a decade — since the 2009 releases — that three best-picture nominees have grossed at least $200 million at the time of nominations. Last year, not a single one reached the mark.

It had become an almost annual rite. The academy makes its choices and, shortly after, faces charges that it has gone too rigorous and dark, that it has forsaken its history of a place where quality and the mainstream can coexist. That all changed this year. With a few marks on their ballot, the group revived a forgotten creature: the hit Oscar movie

But in so doing, the academy also raised questions, not least of which is the importance of money in its choices.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” about the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, was written off for much of the season, with few top nominations from Hollywood’s guilds and a Metacritic score below even 50 percent. Yet it had grossed $202 million, a factor that seemed hard to deny both for the 90 people who decide the Golden Globes and, now, for the academy.

“Roma,” though far from a commercial hit, may have had some financial factors behind its selection, too. Netflix has spent profusely to land a nomination for the film, a black-and-white Spanish-language coming-of-age movie from Alfonso Cuarón centered on heroic housekeepers in 1970s Mexico. The company threw splashy events at Los Angeles hot spots such as Spago, collaborated with high-end publisher Assouline on a glossy art book it then gave away and took out a seemingly endless stream of outdoor and television ads, all to attract attention from academy members.

And while “Black Panther” was a consensus critical favorite, the academy has been eager regardless to find a place for the movie, which is the third-highest-grossing film all-time in the United States. Its success was one of the motivations for the “popular” Oscar, according to a person familiar with the discussions who was not authorized to talk about them publicly.

“What this speaks to is an academy that needs more people watching the show, pure and simple,” a movie executive not affiliated with the campaigns for any of these three films said, asking for anonymity so as not to be seen criticizing competitors. “They’ve always needed it. But this year they’ve done something about it.”

The academy has been desperate to broaden its base, especially as ratings have plummeted. Last year marked a modern low, as 26.6 million average total viewers watched the ABC telecast, down nearly 20 percent from the previous year, according to Nielsen.

Best picture is a good place to do that; nominees tend to get the most screen time and occupy a segment that is among the highest rated, as they will again when the show airs Feb. 24 (likely host-less). And unlike nearly every other category, best picture nominees are a reflection of the entire academy. (Best picture is decided on by the entire membership, as opposed to the clusters of “branches,” groups as small as several hundred people, who decide nominees in most other categories.)

But while a ratings-hungry academy might crave blockbuster nominees, the connection between viewership and box office is tenuous. The years of “Avatar” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King” did see strong ratings. But the highest viewership this century actually came in a far less massive year — in the 2013 season, when “12 Years a Slave” won, with “Gravity” the highest-grossing best-picture nominee.

Whether the academy this year moved toward popular taste or vice versa was a matter of debate. Industry members volleyed back and forth Tuesday on whether some of these hits — they also include the Lady Gaga-driven remake of “A Star Is Born” — were more Oscar-worthy than past smashes or whether the Oscars were more willing to give those smashes a longer look.

Part of the shift may be a matter of voting demographics. The academy has swelled its ranks by more than 30 percent since 2016, with many of the new members coming from younger age groups with fewer preconceptions about what an Oscar drama should look like.

That new demographic is also more racially diverse, a response to the criticism that the academy has historically been too white. (This year’s record-high new class was nearly 40 percent people of color.) That may have helped Spike Lee get his first-ever directing nomination. His film, “BlacKkKlansman,” was also nominated for best picture, joining “Black Panther” as a film that used genre to discuss weighty issues about race.

It should be noted that the academy didn’t entirely buy into a new populism. It failed to nominate “Crazy Rich Asians,” the romantic-comedy breakout from last summer, in any category. And the director’s branch, a famously quirky group of about 500, ignored both “Star’s" Bradley Cooper or “Green Book’s” Peter Farrelly for a best director slot, instead choosing Pawel Pawlikowski, who made the period black-and-white Polish romance “Cold War.”

Still, a swing was undeniable. Disney executives, realizing the change that was upon them, seized the moment: the “Panther” nomination occasioned a statement from no less a figure than chairman and chief executive Robert Iger.

“Congratulations to all of our nominated films, and especially ‘Black Panther,’ ” he said. “To see it recognized by the academy today with seven nominations, including Best Picture, is truly an honor.” He went on to offer well wishes to “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and Marvel executive Kevin Feige “for their creative excellence, unparalleled artistry, and heartfelt passion for this project.”

The year of big-studio movies brings full circle what had been nothing short of a two-decade revolution at the Oscars. It began during the 1996-1997 season, when four of the five best-picture nominees came from so-called studio specialty divisions; none of the quartet topped $50 million in box office at the time of nominations. This ended a long period in which much of the Oscar recognition was for movies produced by Hollywood’s largest studios.

The trend reached perhaps its apex in the 2007-2008 season, which also saw only one studio nominee and one nominee that exceeded $50 million — and even then , the one studio film was a dark R-rated drama, “Michael Clayton.” (Studio specialty divisions are affiliated with the studios but run largely separate from them and often take on grittier fare at lower budgets.)

And it continued well into the 2010s. Two years ago, not a single best-picture nominee had even reached $100 million at the time of nominations. The eventual winner was “Moonlight,” the second-lowest-grossing victor of the modern era. It was produced and released by A24, an independent company.

“I think if you look back at the recent history of the Oscars is a 20-plus-year bubble that now may be ending,” said Tom Quinn, a veteran of many campaigns over that time who now runs the independent distributor Neon, referring to the era that kicked off with the seminal 1996-1997 season. “I don’t think you could have predicted then all that it would bring.”

One way a new era may begin is with Netflix, which capped its achievement with an announcement it would join the Motion Picture Association of America, the industry trade group composed of the biggest studios, many of which have been wary of their new competitors.

Netflix executives declined to comment on the nominations or its campaign for “Roma.” Instead, a spokeswoman sent a quote from Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer.

“Thank you to the academy for recognizing all those who took creative leaps this past year. We are honored to receive our first Best Picture nomination and so many other firsts this morning,” he said. "Congratulations to all of the nominees for pushing boundaries and making films that inspire us all.”

Some contenders Tuesday grumbled privately that Netflix was not interested in the theatrical experience and was using “Roma,” a respected director and now the academy as a stalking horse to erode cinema.

But those involved with “Roma” said the nominations are achieving a purer goal.

“This is a movie that talks about the role of community, and in Mexico, that has been suffering for years,” Marina de Tavira, one of the stars of “Roma,” said in an interview. “I am so happy with what Netflix has done because it has brought attention to these places. I hope it opens up the possibility for many more movies like it.”