Best Picture Will Be One of 10, Not One of Five

A recent AP story that appeared in the September 11, 2009 Bucks County (PA) Courier Times states that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the people behind the Oscars, will experiment with having 10 best-picture nominees, instead of just five, for the 2010 Academy Awards. 

Of course, the reaction in Hollywood ranged from “wait and see” to “absolutely not”.  This change isn’t without precedent.  From 1931 to 1943, the Academy Awards had 10 best-picture nominees. While I don’t watch the Academy Awards ceremony because the program is too long, (this blogger has a day job, you know), I’m on the “wait and see” side.  Maybe, as the article states, doing this will open up the best-picture and other categories to other genres, such as comedies and science fiction.

Most of the time, the Oscars go to “serious” films like The English Patient and Brokeback Mountain.  Not that there is anything wrong with serious, dramatic films.  Still, those aren’t the only kind of movies being made.  How about having other films, like The Dark Knight get more than just a “Best Supporting Actor” award?  (If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight get the DVD and you will see what a great performance Heath Ledger gave as “The Joker” in the film.) 

Yet, I also see the side of people like actor Matt Damon and director Peter Jackson who are concerned that the best picture category will get diluted with films that aren’t that strong.  Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a hard enough time picking five nominees for best-picture.  Picking 10 nominees won’t be any easier.  Also, there was a huge amount of lobbying by people in the Academy for the films they felt were Oscar-worthy when there were just five nominees.  Now that there are 10 nominees, movie industry lobbying will be taken up to such a level that could make the lobbyists in Washington blush. 

Maybe the answer isn’t more nominees, but an attitude change whereby the members of the Academy realize that it isn’t just the dramas that “have something to say”.  There are comedies and blockbusters that are worthy of an Oscar.  Taking The Dark Knight as an example, yes it was a superhero movie, but it explored issues of good and evil in a way that few films have done.  I saw it in a movie theater in 2008 and I still think about.  A good movie is a good movie, whether it makes $10 million dollars or $100 million dollars, whether it have loads of special effects or none.  So, how about honoring the good movie, regardless of the genre? After all, I bet the Merchant/Ivory offices are starting to run out of shelf space, considering all the Oscars their films have won.

The 82nd Academy Awards will take place on March 7, 2010.


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