Essays · Movies

How Having 10 Best Picture Nominees Will Affect You

By  · Published on June 24th, 2009

It won’t.

I’d love to leave the article at that, but Neil said that I wasn’t allowed to eat lunch until I wrote more than two words on the subject. Trust me, I tried to argue that “won’t” is technically two words since it’s a contraction, but he didn’t seem to care.

So the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is opening up the field for Best Picture by allowing twice the amount of contenders into the starting gates. This is both a new development and an old one since the nominations usually had more than 5 in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

The money quote from President Sid Ganis:

“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. 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 … 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.”

Some are saying that this is a gimmick. Well, it is. As if there was anything non-gimmicky about awards shows in the first place. I understand the concept of praising the praise-worthy, of giving filmmakers a curtain call they rarely get, but for the most part award shows are built on gimmicks. I’m pretty sure that everyone realizes this and that no one really cares.

I personally like the idea of expanding the field, although 1) I’m not jumping in the air or anything over it and 2) it does seem odd to keep the field at such an arbitrary number. Why not widen the field with a simple points-margin concept allowing for anything above a certain threshold to be considered? Finding more than five great films a year is easy, finding ten is much harder, but either way there is going to be padding (or some films left out in the cold) if they stick to a static number every year. Who decided on 10? Why not 7? Or 16?

So I could see an argument that during the years where there’s padding, it will drop down the prestige of the award for whoever wins it. But I’m not convinced that this news is so totally earth-shattering as a lot of writers seem to think it is.

But it raises a great question – who would the ten Best Picture nominees from last year be?

What do you think?

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