Academy Award, Oscar, Best Picture, nomination

On Tuesday, the governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to change the nomination process for the Best Picture category. For years, the field was limited to 5 nominees but was expanded to 10 a few years ago. For the 2012 Oscars, there will be anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees and we won’t know how many films have been nominated until they are announced in January of next year.

AMPAS claims that Academy members have historically shown passion for more than five movies during the nomination process, but on average, not more than 7 or 8. The no longer feel an obligation to “round up” the number of nominees to 10.

Films that receive at least 5% first place votes among Academy members are eligible for Best Picture nomination. That’s fine, I guess. But does anyone else see this as giving the studios a greater opportunity to jockey for a nomination? Like, if studios get a sense that their critical darling (but financial dud) is hovering around 4%, won’t they push harder for swing votes? I see this as opening the door for more marketing and more campaigning that gets in the way of honestly recognizing films based on merit.

I guess I’m skeptical of it because it feels so shapeless. Almost as if the Academy is indifferent to the number of films that are nominated. “5 films, 6 films, 9 films… Hey! Whatever you want!”

Or worse, it feels like a contrived maneuver that will cause a lot of second guessing among Oscar-watchers. Which will result in more print articles trying to make predictions and more ink spilled covering potential confusion and controversy.

What is your take on this rule change? Leave your comments below!