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Breaking news: Oscars widen the field

Posted by Ty Burr  June 24, 2009 02:12 PM

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"I'd like to thank the Academy..."

The Wrap website reports that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that next year's Best Picture category will be doubled to include ten nominees. In a press release, AMPAS head Sid Ganis, “Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to 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.”

In other words, more critically-acclaimed blockbusters like "The Dark Knight" and the Pixar films, not to mention the kind of indie favorites ("Memento," "Being John Malkovich") that end up exiled to the screenplay categories, will make it into the inner circle of nominees. This should mute criticism that the Academy is out of touch with both mainstream audiences and and hipsters and -- this is crucial -- hopefully increase viewership to the big show. Now the question becomes: Can they find ten 2009 movies that are worthy?

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13 comments so far...
  1. Ten is excessive. The awards show is long enough - what are they going to cut out to fit in five more montages of Best Picture nominees? Eight would have been a good compromise, but really, five is enough. It's not about the Academy being out of touch when nominating, it's when they actually make their choice: Crash, Gladiator, Shakespeare in Love and Forrest Gump all come to mind as less than deserving winners. In fact, with the latter, I would argue the weakest film nominated that year was chosen.

    Critically acclaimed blockbusters *are* chosen, as are indie films. The problem is that awards designed for individual achievement and voted on democratically can never be used as a measure of "excellence".

    Posted by Andrew June 24, 09 02:49 PM
  1. That's good, because of the 5 nominees for the 2009 Academy Awards ONLY TWO OF THEM ("Slumdog", "Milk") really deserved to be there; THREE TOPS ("Benjamin Button" was boarderline). A LOT of great movies that should have been nominated for Best Picture (especially "The Dark Knight") were snubbed so that "Front/Nixon" and "The Reader" could be inexplicably be nominated AT THEIR EXPENSE, so WHY NOT expand the field to cover more deserving nominees?

    Posted by It's Time for an Overhaul June 24, 09 03:00 PM
  1. I hate this idea. Its a cop out to picking edgier films. They just want to still be able to pick the same old safe dramas that get nominated every year, and then throw in some other movies in the mix. If anything it diminishes the honor of being a Best Picture nominee.

    Posted by Kevin B. June 24, 09 03:13 PM
  1. How is the Academy going to pick the ten best movies when it sill fails to pick the five best movies?

    Posted by acie_earl June 24, 09 03:34 PM
  1. Seems like a desperate move to stem waning interest in the Oscars, which don't mean what they used to anyway. Now, it's all about who can spend the most money to promote the Oscar nominees rather than the quality of the nominees. Including 10 pictures nominees just waters down the value of the Oscars even more.

    Posted by Tom June 24, 09 03:35 PM
  1. Oh great, a longer night.

    Posted by Jane X Jones June 24, 09 06:03 PM
  1. just double their chances in getting it wrong. they really should have two top prizes. Best Blockbuster and Best Film. separates the stupid voters from the intelligent ones.

    Posted by skeptic June 24, 09 06:13 PM
  1. “Having 10 Best Picture nominees ...allow[s] ...voters to recognize ...movies that ... have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.”

    Uh, isn't that why you pick winners and losers in the first place?

    A really lame idea driven purely by cynical marketing considerations. You think scrappy indies will get nods? All it means is we'll wind up with mega-budget Jerry Bruckheimer dreck nominated for best picture.

    Posted by geolovely June 24, 09 06:43 PM
  1. "Now the question becomes: Can they find ten 2009 movies that are worthy?"

    Maybe they should go back and fix a glaring omission from last year and retroactively nominate "WALL-E"...

    Posted by JustCuzItsAnimatedDoesn'tMeanItsNotGood June 24, 09 06:47 PM
  1. Can the Academy ever do anything right? Does anyone even take it seriously? English Patient and Shakespeare in Love anyone? 4-star classics, right? After years of snubbing worthy nominees in seemingly every category, and rewarding fluffy, medicore performances and movies that haven't stood the test of time, they make this stupid decision. This is going to water down the category and remove the prestige of the select 5 Best Picture nominees.

    Posted by rty678 June 24, 09 08:47 PM
  1. So instead of 4, it'll be 9 disappointed producers. Great!!

    Posted by Amit June 24, 09 09:49 PM
  1. will they widen the list for actor/actress nominees? I would think the same logic works for the actors............

    Posted by bruna June 24, 09 11:47 PM
  1. Well, most critics find ten movies worthy of a top 10 of the year list, though those tend to include the sorts of films Oscar ignores even in the minor categories, so I expect a mix of the worthy and the "Why?"

    Way early predictions for the ten: Eastwood Mandella Project, Nine, Avatar, Up, Public Enemies, Precious, The Lovely Bones, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Shutter Island

    Posted by rubi-kun June 25, 09 11:24 AM

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

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