By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 24, 2009 at 2:25AM
I am stunned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences decision to nominate ten films for the best picture Oscar. The reason is obvious. Given that the annual show is designed to showcase and promote the movie industry, boosting the number of films will broaden the show's appeal. The broadcast has suffered drops in viewers when the best picture winner isn't Titanic or Lord of the Rings.
This way, clearly, a mass-appeal movie with great reviews like The Dark Knight, which was close to landing a spot in the top five, would be included. Moviegoers pay less attention to movies that are nominated in the technical categories.
What worries me about this is that ten is less exclusive than five. And given the limited number of quality movies that Hollywood is making, it may be hard to come up with a decent list. Also, this brings the Oscar show closer to the Broadcast Film Critics Awards or The Golden Globes, which nominates five comedy/musicals and five dramas.
Last year, for example, the top ten best picture Oscar list would have looked something like this:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Changeling or Gran Torino
This raises many questions; I am canvassing various distribs, Oscar campaigners and marketing folks. I'll report back at the end of the day. Let me know what you think. Is this a good or a bad thing?
82nd Academy Awards® to Feature 10 Best Picture Nominees
Beverly Hills, CA (June 24, 2009) — 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.
originally posted at Variety.com