Saturday, August 15, 2009


Back at the end of June, Sid Ganis dropped a HUGE bombshell on the film community when he announced the Best Picture category would be expanding its number of nominees from 5 to 10. This is almost certainly due to the wild, unabashed fury over last year's snubs of The Dark Knight and WALL-E, two of the best reviewed films of the year.

The thought is that with 5 more slots, Academy members will be more willing to nominate summer action movies and animated films. But this doesn't seem like the answer. Now, if a top-notch animated movie or superhero flick makes it in, we'll all know they wouldn't have stood a chance without the recent update. Does the nod mean as much when this is the case?

You also have to wonder, since the show isn't really pulling in as many viewers as it used to, if the strategy is to include more blockbusters and films with large fanbases in order to boost ratings. We all know record numbers tuned in to watch Titanic sail away with 11 Oscars twelve years ago. Ganis may be hoping that the presence of higher profile pictures in the Academy's big category will bump his telecast back to its former glory.

It's a lot to think about. Not just in the nominating process, but also how this might affect the eventual winners. Will the best films suffer when voters are given so many choices? Will voters be less inclined to watch all the nominees before they turn in their ballots? Could films get into the Best Picture race without any other nominations? These are big questions.

We'll have to wait until next March to see how this all pans out. It may go as I've just discussed, with a wider array of genres represented on the list, or we could just see more of the same, if voting trends don't change. Either way, this is history.

Here's the full press release:

The 82nd Academy Awards, which will be presented on March 7, 2010, will
have 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category, Academy Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announced today (June 24) at a press
conference in Beverly Hills.

“After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its
earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said
Ganis. “The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner
– but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies
from 2009.”

For more than a decade during the Academy’s earlier years, the Best
Picture category welcomed more than five films; for nine years there were 10
nominees. The 16th Academy Awards (1943) was the last year to include a field of
that size; “ Casablanca ” was named Best Picture. (In 1931/32, there were eight
nominees and in 1934 and 1935 there were 12 nominees.)

Currently, the Academy is presenting a bicoastal screening series
showcasing the 10 Best Picture nominees of 1939, arguably one of Hollywood ’s
greatest film years. Best Picture nominees of that year include such diverse
classics as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Stagecoach,” “The
Wizard of Oz” and Best Picture winner “Gone with the Wind.”

“Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going allow Academy voters to
recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the
other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top
prize,” commented Ganis. “I can’t wait to see what that list of ten looks like
when the nominees are announced in February.”

The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday,
February 2. The Oscar® ceremony honoring films for 2009 will again take place at
the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood , and will be
televised live by the ABC Television Network.


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