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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What do you think of Oscar expanding the Best Picture category from 5 to 10 movies?

It is, perhaps, the most stunning Oscar news in years:

Oscars expand the best-picture race to 10 films

The next Oscars derby will be more heated – and crowded. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just announced that the best-picture race will now include 10 contenders instead of five.

Tom O’Neil at the L.A. Times’ Gold Derby notes that this does have historical precedent:

Between 1932 and 1943, that Oscars category usually spanned 10 films, but then switched to just five for the year covering movies released in 1944….

In 1931-32, there were eight nominees and in 1934 and 1935 there were 12 contenders. The last time there were 10 nominees “Casablanca” won best picture of 1943.

As Anne Thompson at Variety points out:

The reason is obvious. Given that the annual show is designed to showcase and promote the movie industry, boosting the number of films will broaden the show’s appeal. The broadcast has suffered drops in viewers when the best picture winner isn’t Titanic or Lord of the Rings.

That sounds about right to me.

Hilariously, a lot of commenters all over the Web — that is, the readers responding to the news, not the professional industry watchers — seem to think that this means Star Trek will get a nomination for Best Picture. Much as I love that movie, that seems like a real stretch. Up is probably a shoo-in, though.

What do you think of Oscar expanding the Best Picture category from 5 to 10 movies?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • Jean

    Are they also getting rid of the “Best Animated Picture” award? If not, it seems to me that “Up” will be relegated to that category (sad to say).

    I’m a little dubious of the whole concept, not because I think the Academy always nominates the best movies (I, for example, didn’t care for “The Reader” and would have loved to see “The Dark Knight” take its place) but because it seems like a bait-and-switch. Sure, more mainstream movies may get nominated, but will they ever win? And if more commercially successful movies do win, shouldn’t they have been good enough to be nominated when there were only five choices?

    It may work to draw viewers for the first year, but if/when people who are rooting for mainstream movies get regularly disappointed, the buzz will be short lived.

  • JoshDM

    Oscars are best kept where they belong.

    In the trashcan.

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

  • I didn’t figure it had anything to do with making the ceremony itself more watchable, but rather increasing the number of films that could market themselves with “Academy Award nominated…”

  • Ken

    My initial reaction was echoed by Keith Olbermann last night; it will allow more movies to advertise themselves as Oscar-nominated, which will probably result in increased ticket sales for those 5 movies that otherwise wouldn’t have made the cut.

  • Paul

    I sniff desperation from its falling ratings.

  • bats :[

    I thought expanding the number of 10 was somewhat of an overkill, but reading the article on “the old days,” when up to 10 films were nominated, has me reconsidering this.

    What stuns me is 1939, when there were so many amazing movies (amazing in the sense that those cited are pretty much classics that people still remember and watch today, 70 years later). Is there any idea how many films were released annually 50-70 years ago?
    I seem to remember reading that two or three years ago, there were over 350 releases from *major* studios alone. That’s a lot of crap…

  • Andrew

    If this means the end of the animation or sci-fi ghetto, hooray. Otherwise, who cares?

  • Robert McCoy

    I would have preferred including the foreign language films into the best movie catagory, maybe getting more people to watch movies not in English (it’s amazing how many morons there are who refuse to watch a movie w/ subtitles.)

  • markyd

    I don’t think I’ve watched the oscars since LOTR won. I have no interest in going back, no matter how many best pic noms there are. They are just so irrelevant. Somebody has to get in there and modernize the joint. Get rid of the stodginess(word? is now) They need more categories for starters. I’m ok with an overall winner, there should also be sub-categories for Adventure/Comedy/Drama, etc. Best Voice acting should be added, too. Maybe some “fun” awards for action movies and such. I realize some of what I ask has been done by other shows(some OK, some awful), but it would be nice to see it done right.

  • misterb

    I actually watch the show (but just so I can make snarky comments – my wife doesn’t approve)
    Does this means no clips for the nominated films or are they going to turn it into a clip show?

    I’d like to see some robots down at the bottom of the screen making fun of all the losers.

  • doa766

    at least now there will be a pixar movie among the nominies every year

    other than that seems pointless, the best pic award is almost always between two movies and very unusally a third one has a chance, every year there’s 3 movies that everyone knows that won’t win, now there’ll be 8

  • Jean

    Michael-Good point, a lot of movies already use their nomination for ‘Best Sound’ or ‘Best Song’ to paste huge ‘OSCAR NOMINATED’ banners on their ads. But I’m not sure that “Best Picture Nominated” would really change that many minds about seeing a movie.

    It also just occurred to me that this is going to make the AMC “Best Picture Showcase” SUPER long. They’ll have to start providing sleeping bags as well as popcorn.

  • PaulW

    The problem is that expanding the Best Picture selections to ten is no guarantee they’ll still select the *right* ten. Nor that they will vote for the right movie to win overall.

    Would they have added a Dark Knight or Iron Man from last year? Two movies that were genuinely great movies but viewed (only) as commercial blockbusters? Would having ten films in 1977 given Star Wars a better chance over Annie Hall?

    And let’s be honest: some years there are good movies but not GREAT movies, and sometimes even not enough to fill ten spots.

    No. Hollywood should stick to five nominees. JUST DO A BETTER JOB OF SELECTING THOSE FIVE (Dark Knight grrrrrrrrrr).

  • JWK

    When there are five nominees, obviously there are movies which win best picture that do not receive 50% of the vote. This is a bad practise from an acuracy standpoint. (Think about how in many election that a winner is not determined unless a candidate receives 50% of the vote.) The problem becomes much worse when there are ten films. I have no problem with ten films being nominated, but the voters need to have multiple votes. In a perfect system the voters would not vote for best picture but vote the movies from best to worse. Then a true sense of which film deserves to be awared ‘Best Picture’ could easily be determined.

  • Jean

    Bats- I remember hearing that in its heyday MGM produced a movie a week (52 a year). Now, a lot of those were not “classics”. In fact, they were pretty bad movies that time has, thankfully, winnowed out for us. But MGM was only one of the major studios (I can think of Warner Brothers and Paramount offhand, there must have been others). I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of films produced in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s was about the same as now. I would imagine it seems like there are more bad movies now, because we see the adds for each and every one.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Personally, the one category I wish they’d add would be “Best Collaborative Performance” for animated/puppet characters.

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