Why I wish we could go back to having only five Oscar nominees

10-oscar-nominationsImage Credit: How many nominees is too many? As every entertainment junkie knows, the most fun thing about the Academy Awards is talking about them. All the speculative chatter — Is it Natalie Portman’s year? Is The Social Network an Oscar movie or too much of a heady/critical darling/digital generation movie? — may be the height of trivia, but it gives us all a (tiny) stake in the outcome, and it’s also a way of trying to nail down, each year, that elusive yet revealing thing that is the Hollywood Value System. Besides, the Oscars are still the ultimate media-buzz-industrial-complex horse race. Can True Grit, after getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, snag a nomination for Best Picture? How about 127 Hours, with its rave response from reviewers, its grisly (if transcendent) final twist, and its just-okay performance at the box office? And what about The Fighter? I personally think it’s a terrific movie, but did the media oversell it as a contender?

In the past, those might have been tasty questions to chew over. This year, however, I find myself having the same Oscar conversation — or, more to the point, giving the same Oscar answer — over and over again. It goes something like this:

YOU: Do you think True Grit will get nominated for Best Picture?

ME: Yes, I do. I’m not sure it would, though, if there were only five nominees. But with ten, it probably can’t miss.

YOU: What about 127 Hours?

ME: Same situation. With only five nominees, I’m almost certain it wouldn’t be nominated. With ten, I bet it will be.

YOU: How about Toy Story 3?

ME: Definitely! And it’s great that they’re finally nominating animated films for Best Picture. Of course, if there were only five nominees, I’m not sure Toy Story 3 would make it…

Do you sense a pattern here? And, what’s more, a certain creeping rhythm of ho-hum tedium? The decision to have ten Best Picture nominees, which was announced last year and is being continued this year, was made for a variety of well-documented reasons. The driving one, of course, was the desire to add more high-profile commercial movies into the mix — the kind of noteworthy popcorn pictures (e.g., The Dark Knight) that dominate the movie landscape more than ever before. For a variety of motives embedded deep in the mystery of Hollywood psychology (the need to keep artistic quality and the blockbuster mentality in separate categories, as if they were meat and milk; America’s 234-year-old inferiority complex about all things British; and so forth), a lot of people in the Academy still don’t want to think of big-ticket, comic-bookish fantasy hits as prestige “Oscar films.” And so this was supposed to be a way of shoehorning them into the ceremony. The driving motive behind that, of course, was to suck in younger viewers in order to up the ratings for the TV broadcast and, by extension, to maintain the once-Super Bowl-ish, everybody’s watching! global-juggernaut quality of the Oscar brand.

I have no problem with those goals, and will leave it to others to decide whether a slate of ten Best Picture nominees is accomplishing them. My point, however, is that ten nominees may be diminishing the Oscar brand in a subtler way: by making the Best Picture race less decisive and iconic and exciting — and, in effect, less competitive. In any given year (like, for instance, this year), it’s not as if there are that many good movies. A ten-film Best Picture slate can make it seem as if the Academy is giving a nod to … well, all of them. Sure, whether there are five nominees or ten, the contest itself usually comes down to either a sure thing or a horse race between the two top contenders. But with a slate of only five, the other nominees don’t feel nearly as much like tokens. As Dave Karger argued here last year, the ten nominees tend to break down fairly neatly between the five that would have made it on their own and the “extra” five, which increasingly feel like slightly lowly charity choices. And I’m hardly the first observer to point out that the grand irony of the ten Best Picture nominee experiment is that it probably expanded the field less to prestige popcorn movies (which was the whole point) than to medium-profile indies. Sure, Inception and Toy Story 3 will be up there this year. But more than ever, that over-bulging roster threatens to make the Oscars look like a gilded version of the Independent Spirit Awards.

The real problem, of course, is that it quietly diminishes what an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture means. In the past, when all of us speculated about what the nominees would be, then chattered and prognosticated a few months later about what got snubbed and what would win, we were able to ruminate away because the system forced Hollywood to put its money where its mouth was: to declare, with five choices, what it valued most. Now, with ten choices, the Academy can pretend, in effect, that it values everything. Even if that’s really a way of valuing everything a little less.

So what do you think? Are you, like me, already weary of the ten Best Picture era? Or do you think that it really does make the Academy Awards more democratic and intoxicating? Does it make you want to watch the show all the more? Or does it subtly encourage you to tune out?

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  • Jethro

    I don’t think animated films being nominated should be in both the Pest Picture and the Best Animated Picture categories.

    It’s as silly as having albums nominated for Album of the Year and also Best Pop Album.

    • graeme

      So animated movies shouldn’t be considered movies? Pixar’s movies are better than anything else released every year for the past several years.

      • Wendy

        I think the arguement is that they should not be able to submit for BOTH…and I agree. If Disney feels they can win the Best Picture nomination with Toy Story 3 then they should submit it as such…but they shouldn’t also get to submit for Best Animated as well. I feel the same way about foreign & documentary films…by letting them submit twice is really unfair to the standard films that don’t fit a specialty designation. Not only is it unfair to the general films in the Best Picture categories, but it stacks the deck against any of the nominees in the ‘specialty’ category because if they get nominations in both (such as TS3 is likely to do), then it’s almost a given that they’ll win the specialty category AND be snubbed for the Best Picture nomination b/c voters gave them the consolation price of the Best Animated Oscar.

      • Jethro

        I said should not be in both categories, if it rightfully deserving, then put it in the animated cat, not both. Winning the best animated picture is just as prestigous as Best Picture.

      • Friggin Tommy Noble

        Greame, Jethro is not saying that animated films shouldn’t be considered movies. He’s saying that animated films shouldn’t be nominated in two categories at once (this case being for Best Picture & Best Animated Feature). If Toy Story 3 is being nominated for Best Picture & Best Animated Feature at once, if it loses for Best Picture, it won’t matter because it will certainly win Best Animated Film (If it’s going up against Black Swan, Inception, etc, it will dominate in its own category- explaining the Album of the Year analogy). Its like when Michael Moore submitted Fahrenheit 9/11 for Best Picture instead of Best Documentary. He couldn’t be nominated for both at once, he could only either rule the documentary category or take his chances with the big nominees.

      • @ Jethro

        “Winning the best animated picture is just as prestigous as Best Picture.”
        My sarcasm meter is broken. Is this a joke or are you serious?

      • elr

        @ Jethro I understand what you are saying and I kind of agree with you but, I would take it a step further and include foreign language films also being nominated for best picture. True, this doesn’t happen often but it has in the past.

      • Stacy

        I agree, for the emmys you can only summit as animated or comedy-not both, it should be the same for the oscars.

      • Ana

        The only reason the Animated Picture category exists is because some voters (e.g. Shirley Maclaine) felt that animated movies didn’t deserve best picture nominations so they were getting snubbed every year. Until academy voters learn to appreciate animation and foreign language films on the same level as live action Hollywood films, those separate categories are going to remain. I don’t think it’s fair to restrict those submitting the pictures for consideration because of biases in the Hollywood community.

      • Shay

        Toy Story 3 tomatometer is 99% critics like, 91% audience like. That is a fantastic approval rating. It should be considered for Best Picture.

      • jared4ever

        If animated films are so awesome then they can comepete with all the other films in the maincategory Best Picture. Maybe there shouldnt even be a category for them.

      • Sam

        This isn’t the People’s Choice Awards. The Tomatometer shouldn’t be that relevant in this issue.

      • Brad

        Damn that Shirley Maclaine !!!!

      • Terry

        Well, it’s the same as actors that were obviously the leads in their movies but being unable(or unwilling) to compete in the lead category so they submit themselves as best supporting so they stand a better chance of winning, which trhey usually do because they have more name value than the usually lesser known competition. That’s why I don’t really consider it a win when they do win. I’m burned out by the oscars anyway. After watching for almost 40 years, I’m done. They upped the nominees and cut out the special oscars which I always loved. If it hadn’t been for those, we wouldn’t have gotten to see recipients like Blake Edwards(and his hilarious wheelchair mishap). But they wanted to make sure we got more face time with the same celebs that are on all the talk shows ad nauseum. I skipped last years ceremony and watched a movie instead. I read about the event later and it sounded like I made a better inverstment with my time. I figure if they don’t feel like showing me Roger Corman or Eli Wallach being honored, why should I waste my time watching their usual boring self congratulations.

      • Jordan

        can we please just get over it now? 10 best picture nominees is far from the end of the world. plus, it allows for the recognition of many great movies that otherwise might have been left in the dust. 127 hours certainly deserves to be nominated and considered, and it might not have been if there weren’t 10.

      • Stacey Heart

        Great movie and BBWMarriage was amazing

      • Dimitri

        If ‘Toy Story 3′ is the only animated feature nominated for Best Picture, doesn’t that mean that it’s the only logical winner in ‘Best Animated Feature’? See where I’m getting at? When animated movies are nominated for Best Picture, that automatically labels them superior to all its other competitors in the Best Animated Feature category. When ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was nominated in 1991, that was a breakthrough for animation, for there wasn’t such a thing as a category solely for animation. But double-nominating movies in two categories? No, sorry.

        At the Golden Globes, there are two picture categories, ‘Best Drama’ and ‘Best Comedy or Musical’. Imagine there would be a third, ‘Best Picture’, where the best of both of the above would be collected. Uhm, redundant.

    • HoneyB

      But not Best Country, Best R&B Album, etc?

    • bringbackrocky

      Using your logic, then a movie like Life is Beautiful – which was nominated for both Best Picture (which it lost) and Best Foreign Language Film (which it won) – should only have been nominated once. Flawed logic. A great picture is a great picture and, if it happens to to be eligible to be nominated in 2 categories, so be it.

      • Roger Ebert’s Thumb

        No, “Life is Beautiful” shouldn’t have been nominated for EITHER. What a waste of good celluloid.

      • Amy

        But most movies (as in not documentary, animated or foreign) can’t get nominated twice for basically the same thing; even if the “specialty” categories have a narrower competition and aren’t considered as prestigious, it’s still essentially saying that it’s a great film.

        I think they should be eligible for both categories, but if a movie makes it into Best Picture, it should be disqualified from the specialty category.

      • Aunt Sassy

        I disagree. I think it should be limited to one category only. Someone said above (and I agree) that if a movie is nominated for both – like Life is Beautiful and likely TS3 this year – the people voting for Best Picture will overlook the movie that is nominated in a specialty category because they think “oh, it’ll win Best Foreign Language Film (like Lif is Good did) or Best Animated Film (like TS3 probably will) and will vote for something else. I think the producers of TS3 should submit it for Best Film and leave it at that.

      • Rich

        Pan’s Labyrinth lost for Best Foreign Picture… despite winning 3 separate Oscars that year. (I can’t remember if it was also nominated for Best Picture as well… I don’t think so.)

        Anyway, the point being that “Best Foreign Film” is never a sure thing, even if one movie also makes it in for Best Picture.

      • AH

        I think everyone is missing the point. The Academy will not vote for an animated movie for best picture, and it will only rarely vote for a foreign language film. Those categories are really designed to throw a bone to genre movies that otherwise don’t have enough viewers in the Academy to make a serious run for best picture. The 10 nominations complicates things, somewhat, but I’m not sure if it is better to be a nominee for best picture or the winner of best animated feature/foreign language film. The Oscars is a popularity contest, after all.

      • m1

        This same situation happened with the exceptional Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If animated films cannot be nominated for Best Picture, then disqualify foreign films and documentaries too.

      • Ayhu

        Great suggestions and well tguhoht out too. We’re sharing your post with our summer interns, they’re doing a great job already but your tguhohts will be well received by them too. Thank you.

    • Christine

      It almost feel its a bit pointless if a movie gets nominated for both categories. Because if it is nominated for Best Picture, doesn’t it make it obvious its going to win Animated Feature? It negates the point of that entire category.

    • Turanga Leela

      But you can win both best pop album and best album of the year. Everything is technically a genre in music, so saying that something shouldn’t win for their genre and then win best album is silly. The same applies to movies, though they don’t award genres. The only non-general categories they award is Best Animated movie (started because animated movies were usually overlooked with only 5 noms for best picture) and Best Foreign-Language Film. I don’t see any reason why any film that is nominated in etiher of these categories should not be considered to be one of the Top 10 films of the year and be awarded a nomination for Best Picture.

      • kimmy

        Beauty and the Beast is an exception.

      • Amy

        Then why not have separate categories for comedy and musicals and horror, etc. The only reason the separate categories exist is because most of the time, the movies nominated for them have little to no chance at Best Picture, yet people also complain about genre films not getting enough recognition, but they don’t get their own “consolation” category.

      • James

        Although, the rules changed for actors after 1944 when Barry Fitzgerald was nominate both for best actor and best supporting actor for playing the same role in “Going My Way.” He won for supporting. But actors are not allowed to be nominated for the same role in two separate categories.

    • Scott

      Life is Beautiful was nominated for both Best Picture and and Best Foreign Language Film (Which it won). If Toy Story 3 is a good enough movie, why should it not be in both categories?

    • sarah d

      They have a best comedy/musical catergory and those movies can also be nominated for overall best pic. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

      • Ember

        @sara d….the Golden Globes have “best Drama” and “best comedy or musical” (but no “best overall”). The Oscars just have “best picture” (no sub-categories of “drama” and “comedy/music”)

    • Tim

      Idea – what if there were the following categories: Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Animated, Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language ..4 nominees in each. The 5 winners would then make up the category of Best Picture. In that situation, you wouldn’t even know who the 5 Best Pic nominees where until the night of the show!

      • Delon

        I think i like this idea. It gives legitimate suspense and people will have to watch the entire show.

      • liz

        thats actually a really great idea. one that makes way more sense than the 10 noms for best picture. and delon is right, it would make you want to watch til the end

    • William

      I don’t think it’s a problem. Because an animated film can’t be eligible for other categories like anything to do with actors or actresses. So they’re handicapped in that way. As well as visual effects, and even costume design or directing. So there’s a lot of categories animated films are left out of so for them to at least get a bite at the Best Picture nomination is fine by me.

    • Delon

      This was a weak year for the movies to nominate 10 of them for the Oscars. The Social Network will win hands down. The other movies are so slight(except for True Grit). Inception is especially a horrid movie. I still won’t call The Social Network my favorite film of the year, but it’s head and shoulders above these would-be nominees. Best Picture: The Social Network. Best Director: David Fincher. Anybody who thinks the result will be otherwise is just a naive wishful thinker. Learn your Oscars, people.

  • Jethro

    One more thing, having 10 pics nominated isn’t a bad thing, this is how it was done in the 30s and it seemed to work.

    I dont’t think True Grit is worthy of a best pic nom as it is basically a remake and is not showcasing anything more than back in 1969. Black Swan & The King’s Speech will definitely be nominated with at least 6 or 7 noms come next month.

    • Ana

      It’s not a remake. It’s a new and different adaptation of the novel on which the original movies was based.

  • Wrong

    True Grit isn’t a remake. The Brothers Coen have stated that they aren’t remaking the Wayne classic, they’re going strictly from the novel. Adapted screenplay, yes. Remake, no.

    • Amy

      It’s still technically a remake, though.

      • AH

        Actually, technically it is not:
        A remake is a piece of media based primarily on an earlier work of the same medium (wikipedia definition). This movie is based primarily on the novel, not the earlier movie.

      • Dman

        AH, if you’re going to attempt to sound superior in your response then try not to reference wikipedia as if that is the world’s utlimate source of legitimate information. By doing so, you’ll come across as..well, a tool. This is what a dictionary has to say about remakes-
        1.to make again or anew.
        2.Movies. to film again, as a picture or screenplay.
        3.Movies. a more recent version of an older film.
        4.anything that has been remade, renovated, or rebuilt.

        According to these guidelines, True Grit is in fact a remake. Good day, sir.

    • Terry

      It’s a remake. People can whine all they want. It’s been made once, then it was made again, hence,”remake”. I get bored with idiots trying to throw that out everytime someone mentions remake. It’s like they think by saying “it’s not a remake, it’s a new adaptation” that will automatically make it better. The only thing that should matter is if it’s any good. I’ve seen a lot of remakes, some good some not so good. The first time I heard a bout a film not being a remake was the Planet of the Apes. Personally, everytime I hear one of the creators trying to throw that reimaginning or whatever out there, I just think what a pretentious ass, and skip it altogether. And probably worse is someone who has nothing to do with the film jumping on these sites and screaming it’s not a remake everytime the word is mentioned. Especially when all the professional critics still call them remakes. And really, if someone says that they are not gonna see something because they hate remakes, do you really think that by you saying it’s not a remake, they will automatically say oh, well I’ll go then? Sorry, but True Grit(which I’m going to see tomorrow) looks very much like the first one as opposed to say, The Big Clock and No Way Out, now that was a reimagining. But then they weren’t phoney about it, they called it a remake and it was a good one.

    • Ampersand

      These are the same people that feel that Let Me In is a remake and not an adaptation of a novel yet True Grit is an “adaptation” gimme a break!

      • Travis

        Well, Let Me In actually recreates exact shots from the original, so I think there should be some distinction between that and a movie like True Grit. (I’m not saying you can’t call True Grit a remake.)

  • Freddie

    Social Network is incredibly overrated. It is a good movie, but that is it, I cannot see where all the gushing is coming from – the performances are okay, not earth shattering. Zuckerberg was a monotone character, did not appear to be much nuance in that performance. Black Swan does not know what subtlety is. I am sick of every movie taking place in Boston so that leaves out The Town. The King’s Speech seems like that one small film no one saw but all the critics love. Toy Story 3 was wonderful, but its animated and they never get credit. When it comes down to it, I think best picture should be decided between Inception (Nolan deserves best director), The Fighter, and True Grit

    • John

      You do know that The Fighter takes place in Boston, don’t you.

    • AlisonRose

      LOL–“I am sick of every movie taking place in Boston so that leaves out The Town.” But then you choose The Fighter, which takes place in (and was filmed in) Lowell, Mass., about 20 miles from Boston. (For that matter, The Town takes place in Charlestown, not Boston.) The accents, though not identical, are certainly similar. Let’s be consistent here, Freddie!

      • Stef

        Sorry to be nitpicky but Charlestown is a part of Boston.

    • AlisonRose

      Oh, and the first date scene in The Fighter was filmed in my town, Lexington, Mass., right at our local independent movie theater. Woot!

      • AlisonRose

        Stef–you are correct, though Charlestown used to be an independent town before being annexed by the city of Boston in the 19th Century. I still think it’s silly to say that you discount The Town for being set in Boston, but then keep a Lowell-based movie (The Fighter) on your best-of list. Besides, what if others decided “no more New York- or LA-based movies.” Freddie–you must be a Yankees (or Knicks, or Jets, or Giants) fan!

  • cheese

    I just like the idea of 10 nominees because it gives me hope that a movie that the general public actually knows/cares about will win. What I noticed with only 5 nominees is that only films I’ve never seen/heard of were nominated. Why would I want to watch an awards show for movies I don’t care about? With 10 nominees, more likely having films I actually know about, I’ll watch the ceremony and stick with it even if my favorite films look like they aren’t winning anything…because there is always that chance that they could sneak one win…know what I’m saying?

    • nick

      Rain Man, Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, American Beauty, Chicago, Return of the King, The Departed, Slumdog Millionaire. All big hits in the 5 nominee era. I’m just going with the last quarter century.

      • cheese

        yeah, but what were the other nominees against those films in those years? I’m not saying that ALL films nominated were not widely known, but a majority kinda are. Unless you are a major film buff, I understand if you actually know and have seen all the nominees, but a majority of Americans aren’t. I think “The Kids Are All Right” is going to be nominated this year, but I’m the only person out of everyone I know that went to see that movie. I guess my point is that they air these awards shows on TV expecting people to watch them. In order to get that audience, I think more “successful” films need to be nominated. There are “good” films out there that aren’t necessarily Oscar bait.

      • LK

        I agree with cheese. sure nick, those were HUGE hits and they definitely deserved to win, but also in those years were pictures like sideways (great film, but did the average american break down the cinema doors to go see it? no.), In The Bedroom, The Pianist,the Accidental Tourist? All very fantastic nominated movies.

        I like to keep in mind that people reading this blog are avid movie watchers and pop culture junkies. However not everyone watching the oscars is the same way. Give the academy some credit for trying to boost it’s image and pulling in new, different viewers. Maybe us movie buffs can make the next generation fall in love with movies again that have some critical acclaim to them!

      • sabrina W

        if it weren’t for online sites i wouldnt see a good majority of potentials oscar nominees up this season, i don’t live in america, there’s one theatre where i live, and they show movies they’re sure are going to bring them revenues,”the social network” played only for a week, and i missed it, as a movie buff i go out of my way to see these movies as i enjoy award season, so far from dave karger’s list i saw in theatre toy story3, inception, the town, all the indies never come my way , i really hope the “king’s speech” i can see on big screen but not the average population cup of tea here!

      • Karl

        Think about 2007. No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood… all low-box-office draws. Juno was the only movie the audience actually watched that year, and the turn out was low because everyone knew Juno wouldn’t win compared to those critics’ darlings.

      • Zach

        Actually. No Country for Old Men made 74 million dollars. I think quite a few people saw it and it deserved Best Picture.

    • Kevin

      Who gives a crap what the general public wants? This is an award show that is intended to reward the best films of the year… it shouldn’t be dependent on the fickle tastes of the general public. Just because the masses love crap like Transformers doesn’t mean it should be nominated for Best Picture.

      • Sam

        Amen, Kevin!

      • JB

        No Kevin, the Oscars were designed by early Hollywood to boost the movies to the general public!

      • m1

        True, but there are solid films which the general public deservedly throws their money at (Avatar, Inception, Up in the Air, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, etc.)

      • forrest

        It’s all about the bottom line folks. Expanding the field to 10 allows more films to market ‘nominated for best picture’ blurbs in advertising and hopes of raising more revenue. It’s just a part of the business, and IMHO, delutes the prestige and value of the ‘best picture’ category.

    • JB

      Amen! Before last year, I hadn’t been excited about the Oscars for years! Snubbing The Dark Knight was kind of a last straw for me!

      • Really?

        That movie deserved to get snubbed. It was an onver-hyped movie that only made the money it did because of Heath Ledger.

      • goat

        We’ll see when the third film in Nolan’s trilogy comes out…

      • charles

        I have to agree, Dark Knight wasn’t a very good film.

      • m1

        Such a phenomenal movie. It deserved a director nod too.

    • Pete

      Your comment actually proves the point. By having 10 nominees, it is no longer about honoring the best films, it is about pandering to the masses who have only heard of the ones that played in their multiplex. Perhaps they should change the category from Best Picture to Favorite Picture?

      • Imran

        I also cannot belveie Ricky went home and Tadd is still there!! I agree that he should have been eliminated some time ago. I have seen be-boys just as good at the dance studio I go to in Central Coast, California. Not to slight them, but they are not on a television show. It’s just teenage girls hitting redial over and over. All the dancers this season have been fabulous and great performers. I am still undecided between the other final 3, Sasha, Melanie, and Marko. They are all so amazingly talented and, I know, hard working, highly trained dancers!

  • nick

    they really need to go back to 5 nominees next year.

    • steve

      they really need to dump the Oscars. am i the only one thinking who cares? movies suck. it’s the golden age of TV! i’d say there are less than 10 movies every year worth seeing, let alone nominating for best picture. Inception, Social Network, the Town. Done.

      • Chris

        You forgot a couple: Scott Pilgrim, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, 127 Hours, How To Train Your Dragon, Kick-Ass, Fish Tank, Frozen, Shutter Island, The Crazies, Defendor, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Paper Man, Splice, Get Him To The Greek, Predators, Cyrus, The Kids Are All Right, Despicable Me, Flipped, Machete, Never Let Me Go, Easy A, Catfish, Buried, Let Me In, Jackass 3D, Monsters, Harry Potter 7 Part 1, Tangled, I Love You Phillip Morris, Tron Legacy (i liked it…), True Grit.

    • Chris

      i like it, it’s kinda like an esteemed top 10 list in no specific order and then one clear favorite

  • MDS

    I say the more the merrier. I like the fac that films, like for instance The Town, which with 5 nominees may not have been in the discussion may now be nomintated and exposed to a wider audience.

    • Steph

      I completely agree. In my opinion it’s a good thing, not just for the success of the TV broadcast, but for the films nominated. Those nominations are likely to keep the films in theaters longer, and encourage more people to see them. For me personally, 5 or 10, I’m going to see all those movies!

    • Steph

      Also, however many nominees, there’s still only one winner!

    • Steph

      (and this is the last thing I have to say)
      But, it is true that there’s much less excitement leading up to the announcement of nominees. Those 10 in the picture above will certainly be announced this year.

      • Eva

        go away

  • dawnomite

    Well written article! I prefer the 5 over the 10.

  • Jeff R

    I am not sure why it has to be an “either/or” scenario. Expanding the nominees to 6 or 7 would be much better than the current 10, which pretty much everyone agrees is too much.

    • Ember

      I agree. Aim for 5, but allow for 6 or 7 (so you avoid the “almost got nominated but didn’t” film).

      • Jeff R


  • Albert

    Your article misses one point. There IS a difference between prestige pictures and “popcorn” films. Most popcorn films are frankly lousy, and pretending that they are of the same quality as a good or excellent film by nominating them for Best Picture is just pandering to public taste, which is frankly, terrible. So is the idea of trying to include more popular favorites just to beef up ratings for the Oscar telecasts. It’s all right to have ten nominees if they are good films- they had them in 1939 when “Gone with the Wind” won and “The Wizard of Oz” was nominated, but then again, in 1939, we didn’t have stupid special effects extravaganzas with almost no plot like we do now, and trying to get these types of films considered for Best Picture is just a lowering of standards.

    • Fatima

      You’re missing the point. Nobody is saying nominate Transformers. What they’re saying is that there has been a recent increase in quality of big studio genre pictures (like The Dark Knight) that have a hard time getting taken seriously by people like yourself who are still convinced that popular ALWAYS equals bad.
      That said, I hate the 10 nominees.

      • tvgirl48

        I completely agree. Critics ignore the fact that sometimes blockbuster movies can also be great and instead go for the indie movies because they are more “serious.” I agree that it’s not about nominating Transformers or some random popular movie, but giving popular movies a chance that pro critics dismiss as drivel even if they are The Dark Knight.

    • Amy

      First, both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were popular movies. There are plenty of “popcorn” movies that deserve to be counted as equals to more “serious” movies. Just because something is popular it doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    • Kim- L.A. West “kimasabe”

      I agree with what Albert said, 12/22 @ 12:41pm. ONLY worthwhile movies, the ones with actual plots & about something significant should be nominated. F/X alone is not enough.

    • Sam

      Both Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz were aimed towards the general public, being adaptations of extremely popular books. Also, that time period had the exact same problems as we do now. There were films with flimsy plots meant to showcase special effects or popular actors. For example Hell’s Angels (1930) had a cliche plot and horrible acting but everyone went to see the aerial dogfights. However, only the best films were actually preserved and remembered decades later. 30 years from now few will remember Transformers but several of the best picture winners and nominees of the past decade will endure.

  • Jake

    What I love is while the Academy denied The Dark Knight noms for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay, it has become a more influential movie for Oscars than any other picture from 2008.

    • Maureen

      Agree 100%.

    • Ampersand

      Just goes to show how meaningless (in the grand scheme of things) winning Best Picture is. The Dark Knight is the movie that defines 2008 yet it didn’t manage to get a nomination.

    • m1

      “…it has become a more influential movie…than any other…from 2008.”

      Most influential does not mean best.

  • Mike

    I think that the 10 nominee system worked back in the 30’s and 40’s was due to it being that the Oscars were the ONLY award for film (no Golden Globes, no Baftas etc) so there weren’t any “frontrunners” and each of the ten films had a legitimate shot. Nowadays with an awards show once every hour every hour, the predictability is so strong that it makes the five extra films nominated on top of the five that should be there seem repetitive and boring.

  • Curiouz

    I don’t understand why it has to be 5 or 10? Why didn’t the Academy just try expanding to 7?

  • Ralph

    I miss the five nominee system. 10 is too many. I think this article hits all the right points as to why 10 is a bad system. The conversation about nominees gets to be so broad that I don’t even want to have the conversation anymore (and don’t.) And…let’s face it, 2010 is not going down in the history books as a good year for quality films. That just really exacerbates it. Go back to 5 nominees. It’s a tighter race, it’s a better race…and having to show only 5 clips instead of 10 during the show will make for a shorter telecast!

  • Jenz

    I agree! Please go back to 5 nominees. I did a persuasion speech for a class last December about how awful this decision was. It does take away the value. The awards shouldn’t cater to the audience, that’s what the People choice awards are. The Oscars are like the film industry’s annual employee of the year awards.

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