Remember when The Dark Knight was shut out of the Best Picture race and the Academy decided to expand their list from five nominees to ten? Yeah, so then the following two years produced some of the best lineups for Best Picture the Academy has ever seen. Diverse, interesting, inclusive choices because they weren’t bound to this number one nonsense so much — they each had to fill out ten choices, which allowed members to be more free with what they might consider a Best Picture contender. But voters didn’t like filling out ten. They had been conditioned to only pick five. After two years of a solid ten, the Academy decided to go back to the way they used to do it — have members choose only five titles. They would then decide the winners the same way they had always done but would loosen the belt a bit to allow for more films to be nominated — somewhere between five and, they say, ten. But it’s almost impossible to reach the full ten. In fact, it’s never happened in any of the years the Academy used the same method to name more than five nominees.
To me, their best methods are when they go for a solid ten (more inclusive) or a solid five (less herding cats). The conclusions I’ve come to watching them change the number of Best Picture nominees has been interesting.
1) I always thought that the strongest films would have to have a corresponding Best Director nomination — not true. Argo disproved that theory.