Two years ago, in a controversial attempt to broaden the appeal of the Oscars ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded the field for the Best Picture race from the traditional five nominees to ten. Well, that sure didn’t last long, did it?
The decision to increase the number of nominees came largely as a result of the uproar that erupted when the Academy failed to give populist favorite ‘The Dark Knight‘ a Best Picture nomination. After that fiasco, the Academy reasoned that opening up more nomination slots would allow less “artistic” films and more “movies that people have actually heard of and paid to see” into the running, which would satiate the loudmouth masses. As proof of concept, the next two ceremonies offered up nominations for ‘District 9‘ and ‘Inception‘, a couple of sci-fi blockbusters that wouldn’t normally be named in the Best Picture category.
This rule change was met with widespread scorn, mostly because everyone could see right through the ploy. No one actually expected that these also-ran choices would stand a chance in hell of winning anything. Further, doubling the number of nominees meant an even longer ceremony telecast with twice as many tedious clip reels. Nobody wanted to sit through that. Perhaps worst of all, the struggle to find five more Best Picture-worthy nominees each year just served to highlight the dearth of quality movies actually being produced in Hollywood.
For those reasons and more, the Academy has already given up the pretense of looking for ten great movies each year. Effective with next year’s ceremony, the Best Picture category will move to new structure with a variable number of nominations that could range anywhere from five to ten, depending on how many votes each movie receives. In order to qualify for a Best Picture nomination, a film must receive at least five percent of the first-place votes. Analysis of the voting patterns from 2001 to 2008 reveals that those years would have each garnered between five to nine nominations had they been run under the new rules.
Anyone want to place bets on how long it will take the Academy to slip right back to the five-nominee fixed limit? I’m guessing we’ll see maybe three years of this current system before everything goes back to the old way of doing things.
[Source: The Miami Herald. Thanks to Mrs. Z for the tip.]