10 Best Picture Oscar Nominations

Yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it would be widening the field of nominees for Best Picture from 5 to 10.

When I first heard the news I though, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” But the more I think about it, the more upset I become.

This isn’t the first time the Academy has nominated 10 films for Best Picture. In fact, it was par for the course when the awards show was created back in the 1930s and was a practice they continued well into the 1940s.

But the big difference these days is that there are FAR fewer studios producing movies and a much smaller number of films being released each year. Also, the Oscar’s weren’t broadcast until 1953. So what’s the real reason behind widening the field to 10?

Follow the money.

If you ask me, this is all one huge money-making scheme. 10 films get nominated and now 10 films are “must see” in the theater. If you don’t catch them in the theater, now studios can slap the “Oscar nominated” title on the DVD and claim their film is an avatar of quality. If you don’t catch it on DVD, maybe you’ll watch the Oscar broadcast because – hey – something is new and different! Nevermind all of the entertainment media that will now be forced to write about, speculate, categorize, rank and rate 10 Best Picture nominees.

Remember the Oscars last year when they didn’t have a host and instead had actors come up and give little speeches to the nominees about how great they are. Remember that Zac Efron was one of those presenters?

Yeah… this 10 nominations thing is just another gimmick, but on a much larger scale.

My question is, if they’re going to nominate 10 films for Best Picture, then why not 10 nominees for Best Director? How many films have won Best Picture without their directors winning in their categories? Why not 10 Best Actors, Best Actresses?

Some of you probably think that 10 Best Picture nominations is a good thing. Would Wall-E or The Dark Night have been nominated last year under this structure? Will this open the door to more independent movies being recognized by the Academy and a larger audience? Perhaps.

But if they’re going to widen the field this far, then the Academy needs to get ride of “ghettoized” categories like “Best Foreign Language Film,” “Best Animated Feature Film” and “Best Documentary Feature.” All of them are ridiculous categories to begin with and treats their genre’s like second class citizens. Any of the films nominated in those categories can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with films from other genres.

Well, except Bolt. Seriously, what were they thinking nominating that last year?

What the Academy fails to realize – especially when they attempt these naked gimmicks to boost their ratings – is that movie goers haven’t lost interest in because they’ve become bored with the tradition. If anything, that’s THE REASON they huddle around their television each year.

No. People have become disenfranchised from the Oscar’s because their choices reflect no sincerity, originality or taste. That, coupled with the fact that a Best Picture nomination has become a political campaign among the studios to jockey for a position at the end of the year that will increase their odds of the Academy (and their narrow memories) to nominate their films.

The Reader, for example, was sent to theaters in limited release on December 10 to meet the Oscar deadline but wasn’t released wide until January 9. By then, reviews were ancient, no one was talking about it and demand for the film was nil. It barely reached middle America except in a few art houses. How are we supposed to get excited for a film like this when there is no opportunity to see it?

If this change results in sincere diversity among the Best Picture nominees, then I will happily eat crow. If Up is nominated alongside The Hurt Locker, no one will be more pleased than me.

But I see no reason for the Academy’s decision to remotely change how Hollywood does business. The studios have a formula and they’re sticking to it. The rest of us are just along for the ride.

What is your reaction to the Academy’s announcement? Are you excited for the change of pace or do you thing the Academy has an ulterior motivation. Do 10 Best Picture nominations dilute the value of the Oscars or is the trophy bragging rights and not an indicator of true quality?

Leave your comments below! Let’s get a dialogue going!