As we head into another Oscar year we are once again faced with nine Best Picture nominees. We all know it will be nine because ever since the Academy changed their rules from Best Picture from five to ten and then from ten to an arbitrary number between 5 and 9 it has been nine – for three consecutive years.
That’s because there are so many good movies every year vying for the Best Picture race that they stuff in as many as possible, often the ones with more passionate support ruling the day. But first, a little history.
Back in the early days of Oscar they had not yet introduced the solid five categories for Best Picture, Best Director, etc. There were often many more in these categories. There was a brief period of time when there were a solid ten Best Picture nominees – 1937 through 1944. Going My Way, in 1945, was the first film to win with five nominees. Five nominees would rule all the way up to 2008, after The Dark Knight failed to earn a Best Picture nomination.
In 2008, the Academy was slammed by fans and critics for failing to nominate the Dark Knight and putting in The Reader instead. Typical Academy move, given their history, but one that really seemed to finally crack open the heavy door of history. In order to evolve a bit, they decided to expand their nominees to a solid ten. Members would now have ten slots for their favorite films of the year. It’s easy call to imagine putting in five of your typical Academy movies, but then perhaps having the freedom to include films you might not ordinarily include on such a limited ballot.