The headline says it all. Is this some strange move on the Academy’s part to further dilute an already incredibly suspect process? Or, more likely, is this a response to the outcry last year against critical favorites such as “The Dark Knight” and “WALL-E” missing the cut. With 10 nominees, “the bubble” is all but eliminated and it’s a free-for-all.
As exiting Academy president Sid Ganis puts it in the press release (see below), “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.” I understand the desire to widen the net, considering the rather heated scrutiny the organization has received for some of its nominee choices, but is this the answer?
Of course, the way the release puts it, the AMPAS wants to “go back to some of its earlier roots,” back when the 10 nominees was the norm. But that was 70 years ago. Additionally, this raises a whole other slate of questions as it regards competition and Oscar advertising. With consistent awards budget cuts, a move like this could be seen as a breath of fresh air for studios stifled by the competition. Then again, it could open the door for even more campaign dollars. Is a “Star Trek” Best Picture push suddenly viable? But the fact remains, with a widened winner’s circle comes a vacuum where being distinguished is concerned.
The announcement dovetails nicely with a current AMPAS showcase of the 10 Best Picture nominees from 1939, a collective of classic-age cinematic gems including “Gone With the Wind,” “Stagecoach” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
I’ll have to turn this over in my head a bit but it seems the novelty of the BFCA’s 10 Best Picture contenders is the new black. And I guess you can add one more “top 10 list” to the end of year collective: The Academy’s Top 10 Films of 2009.” Incredibly bizarre. What do you think?
(Additionally, Greg Ellwood at HitFix is reporting that the Animated Feature category was on the chopping block but survived after all.)
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.