Oscars throw question mark into 10-movie best picture race


Image Credit: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Two years ago, the best picture Oscar race doubled from five nominees to 10. But this time? The Academy isn’t so sure.

It could be anywhere from five to 10 contenders.

Ever since the 2009 change, Hollywood has debated whether 10 is too many, expanding the field to include movies that don’t deserve the honor of a nomination just to fill the extra spaces. Tuesday night, the ruling governors board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seemed to concur with the criticism.

Among other rules adjustments to the awards, the governors voted to change the way nominating ballots are counted, and said in an announcement late Tuesday that if these changes had been in place over the past decade there would have been years when there were five, six, seven, eight, and nine nominees. (The details came from the Academy, which maintains voting figures each year but never releases them to the public.)

Missing from that analysis — the number “10.”

Voters rank their picks in order from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating a first choice for best picture. From now on, a movie can only get a nomination if it secured a minimum 5 percent of first-place votes, according to AMPAS.

Outgoing Academy executive director Bruce Davis was credited for recommending the change, and said in a statement that analysis of the data showed voters regularly would have preferred more than five nominated films. But that doesn’t mean 10 is always merited. “If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number,” Davis said.

The final voting procedures that select the winner from the nominees will remain the same.

Nominees will be announced Jan. 24, and the ceremony is set for Feb. 26.

On Twitter: @Breznican

Read more:
Oscars: The wacky way the Academy counts votes
Owen Gleiberman: Why I wish we could go back to having only five Oscar nominees
2010 Oscars to have 10 Best Picture nominees

Comments (130 total) Add your comment
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  • thin

    This seems like a much better idea than a flat 10. I like the idea of having a minimum required vote count for consideration as a best picture.

    • Rebekah

      Agreed. I do think this sounds much better than having to fill a mandated 10 nominee slots. Let’s hope it works.

      • jl

        Perfect. I can’t remember any year having 10 worthy candidates. Heck, even 5 seems like a lot some years.

        Fact is, the last truly great movie year was the No Country for Old Man and There Will be Blood (the last GREAT American movie).

      • Nirveeze

        Couldn’t agree more with the fact that No Country was a great year. I loved all the nominees that year and the top to contenders (No Country and TWBB) are two of my favorites!

        Saying that, though, last year is one that I think would have had either 8 or 9, the only one I can think of that REALLY didn’t deserve to be nominated was Winters Bone, and even that was a good film, just a little too LMN movie for my taste. Other than that 10 was a great movie year, and any film that won, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. 09, however, they were grasping for straws. I kinda understand Avatar, mostly for technical achievement, but Blind Side over (500) Days of Summer? REALLY?

      • AmandaHuginkiss

        Happily Divorced — Tonight @10:30/9:30, Only on TV LAND

      • Mavent

        No Country For Old Men sucked. A pretentious pile of garbage. There’s a reason why that was the least-watched Oscars of all time.

    • Steph

      It seems odd though that we won’t know how many nominees there are until the nominations are announced. Kinda makes it difficult for predictions ans speculations. “Well, if there are five, it’ll be… but if it’s eight? Here’s that lineup…”

      • @Steph

        Don’t worry Dave Karger is up for the challenge.

      • Mike in NYC

        Its very simple … you won’t have to predict who will get nominated (though you can speculate who the likely nominees will be) you’ll only have to predict who will win once the nominees are announced.

      • Steph

        haha I never worry about Dave Karger, I know he can handle it. @Mike, that’s no fun!

  • LOL

    At least Fast Five won’t be nominated.

    • LMFAO

      The Academy eschews crap.

      • JLC

        Since when?

    • Sam J

      Worst nominated movie in recent memory: The Blind Side

      • Karl

        Bullock wasn’t bad in that! Made me cry too.

      • alex

        her accent was HORRIBLE. i love her but she should not have won for that. and it should not have been nominated for best picture

      • dan

        why it got great review loved by many mad alot of monney

      • Michael

        @Dan That sums up American movie going decision making.

      • Jen

        Because it didn’t put people to sleep or cause them to complain they’d wasted $10 and 2 hours of their life.

      • m1

        I agree. I put that movie on a list with Finding Neverland and The Sixth Sense as the worst movies to be nominated for Best Picture EVER.

      • Mac

        The Sixth Sense is a very good movie – The three leads were great in it and the twist was very well executed.
        Have you seen past nominess? I mean waaaay back. There are terrible WINNERS, let alone nominees (Greathest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Cimarron, Cavalcade, …) Even Finding Neverland is better than that garbage.

      • Kardealer

        I guess you didn’t see Chicago. I wish I hadn’t.

      • m1

        The Sixth Sense is a film which can’t decide whether to be a drama or a horror, so it tries to find the balance between both and fails. Willis’ speech at the end is so overdramatic and drawn-out that I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over. The scares added up to very little, and the “twist” can be correctly predicted within the first 30 mins. of the film. However, I do agree that the acting was very good.

      • Kevin

        typical hipster drivel

      • Jan

        I agree. Sandra Bullock won Best Actress? What a laugh!

    • LOL

      No, I mean I’m glad Fast Five won’t be nominated because it’s too good for the academy. Fast Five is probably the best movie of the last 50 years, certainly of this century. If it was nominated, the snobs in the academy would probably still give it to some boring foreign movie, while they have a perfect film like Fast Five on the list. It would be insulting, so I would rather Fast Five not be nominated. It would be cool for Vin Diesel to get a nomination though.

      • RT

        Making “a lot of money” should not be a factor in securing a movie a Best Picture nomination.

      • JD

        I second that! But I think it’s the best movie in the last 100 years! Oh wait, it’s just a pretty good mindless action movie.

      • LOL

        It is not mindless! Fast Five is like a masters class in filmmaking, it has it all. Action, comedy, romance, Vin Diesel’s buttocks, drama, all of it. It’s just a beautiful cinematic experience.

    • Gabby

      Your article perfectly shows what I nedeed to know, thanks!

    • Kaylana

      Heck of a job there, it asboulelty helps me out.

  • Jeff Warner

    I like this… a good change. I wasn’t crazy on the 10 to begin with so I’m all for this!

  • Jacobi

    Not a big deal to me at all. Are people really losing sleep if 10 films get nominated as opposed to 8 or 9?
    If you’re going to tinker around with it for, seemingly, silly reasons, why not just go back to 5?

    • Tom

      I completely agree. Also, it makes it seem much worse if there are only six or seven movies and the last one that gets in is something like “The Blind Side”. Thinning the field doesn’t necessarily mean that the films of lowest quality will be omitted

      • Aileen

        Hey, that’s poewrful. Thanks for the news.

    • wakeforce

      Still, everyone knows that only 5 nominees have a chance of winning.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Good point.

        Although, I’d actually say that most years only about three movies have a very realistic shot of actually winning. Usually, it comes down to a two-horse race (Hurt Locker vs. Avatar, King’s Speech vs. Social Network), with a wild card possibly in play.

    • fishpaw

      Doesn’t really matter if it is 5 or 25. There will always be an article about which movie was “snubbed”

      • Woot

        “All 800 films released into theaters this year were nominated for Best Picture, but the academy still snubbed ‘The Dark Knight”

  • deedeedragons

    More then 5 get more viewers, or that’s some people think.

    • Capt. Fantastic

      “Than” is the word you’re looking for. “More than 5…”

      • Brian

        talk about a douchey response….’then’ vs. ‘than’? dumb. stop trolling.

      • Mr. Burns

        Ignore Brian. Keep it up, Capt.

    • Ignore Mr. Burns

      Keep it up Brian. Seriously, is it really that important to correct grammar on a blog?

      • Ana

        Yes grammar is important if you want people to understand you and have them respond to what you’re saying rather than how you’re saying it.

      • Ben

        he said more then 5. but people still understood what he meant. oh you grammar nazis, making the world complicated

  • deedeedragons

    More then 5 gets more viewers, or that’s some people think.

    • Sam J

      10 noms is known as “The Dark Knight exception” b/c it was not included in 2008 but was a crittical and financial success.

      • Jo

        TDK was an excellent film for a superhero flick, but FAR from being one of the year’s best films.

      • Lena120

        @Jo, I respectfully disagree. The Dark Knight was a solid thriller and Nolan approached it that way as opposed to a traditional superhero movie. It definitely deserved to be nominated that year.

      • HG

        Jo, that is not true. The Dark Knight was by far one of the best of that year. Maybe it was not THE best, but it was definitely good enough to deserve a nomination. When did the academy become so stuffy?

      • Jerry

        It used to be a rule of thumb that one of the five nominations would go to a successful “popcorn” flick – think “The Fugitive” or “Ghost.” Once Harvey Weinstein started buying all of the nominations for Miramax, though, that changed.

      • bringbackrocky

        I think the exception also applies to Wall-E which was the top movie on many critics lists in 2008 but failed to get a Best Pic nod.

      • Woot

        The Dark Knight and Wall-e were leagues better than The Reader and Benjamin Button. Let’s also remember that the Academy awards, hell, all awards are somewhat meaningless. Back in 2004, Eternal Sunshine wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, but it was one of the most mentioned films in the “Best of the Decade” lists. Whether a movie wins an oscar doesn’t change how good (or bad) of a film it is to you. Everyone has the right to an opinion and awards shouldn’t change it. I used to tell people, “It won an oscar! It has to be good.” Now I realize how stupid that is to say.

  • poop


  • Lynn

    I like the idea of a minimum threshold required to get a nomination. Last year it seemed like they just pulled other nominated films out of thin air, just to “get to 10.”

    • Feverish

      I agree. It always seemed to me the 10 noms were like when you have little kids playing sports, where everyone gets an award for paricipation. The original idea was to give small films & good box office blockbusters a chance. But i felt last year they had to stretch it too meet the 10.

      • Jo

        Even with ten nominations, (and even with 5) there’s always two or three films that are the only contenders. In 2009 they had ten nominees but everyone knew only Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Up in the Air had any chance of winning. Last year, the same thing happened,

    • m1

      No, I don’t think so. I really think that most of those movies were deserving of their nominations.

  • Sergiu

    Good idea since 10 is to much, but usually there aren’t even 5 movies that deserve a nomination. So 5 is really more than enough.

  • travis

    go back to five, or expand the number of best director nods since only like twice in 20 years has a movie won best picture and not director.

  • JoshP

    Every year pundits complain about the movies not nominated vs. the 5 that were. With 10 everybody’s included making it a race with more depth.

  • Chris

    2010 was a rare year where there were more than 5 movies deserving of the Best Picture title…2009 was far different. The additional 5 just felt like filler. I like this idea a lot. There are many years where more than 5 candidates are deserving, but rarely is there 10.

    • Anne

      Agreed. This is the right change.

    • Woot

      Agreed. Black Swan, The Social Network, The Fighter, The King’s Speech and True Grit would have been the 5 nominees last year… but Toy Story 3 and Inception also deserved their nominations too. (I personally despised The Kid’s Are All Right… but that’s just me. Didn’t see the other movies but I heard great things about 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone) 2010 was a great year!

  • Jenz

    I wasn’t a big fan of the 10 except for the Oscar movie marathon AMC theaters did. I like this idea a little better, but we won’t know how well it works until we hear the nominations.

  • Ellen

    This really seems like a “duh” thing. I’m glad to see that, after a year, these people finally grew some common sense.

  • Chris

    I think the Oscars should just go away. Maybe then EW will have time to pay attention to good shows they keep ignoring, like Doctor Who.

    • Comment Board

      Doctor What? and who are you?

    • kizznyle

      Heck yeah. Almost every episode of the last 1.5 seasons of DW could stand up to most movies released in theaters. Just my 10 cents.

      • Jera

        This makes everything so completely painlses.

    • Cara

      Hm. Not sure if serious, considering EW has been covering Doctor Who and Torchwood: Miracle Day all year (there’s even an article linked to the right, at the moment). In other news, did you know that bow ties, fezzes and Stetsons are coming back into style?

      • Caelyn

        You know what, I’m very much ilnciend to agree.

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