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Academy “Considers” What it has Wanted to Do All Along: Go Back to Five

The Hollywood Reporter says that the Academy are seriously thinking of going back to five. What that really means is that they might finally take the action they’ve been wanting to take for the past five years.

Some time after they switched their voting from five to ten, and then from ten to a number between five and ten (nine for three years, eight for one), an Academy member and publicist told me that they really just wanted to go back to five anyway and this was their way to do that. I think it mostly worked out for them because there were so many films to choose from in 2011, 2012 and 2013. But last year really exposed the problems with the current process of choosing their Best Picture nominees.

I think they should got back to ten nomination slots and ten nominees, as I wrote about earlier this year.  The first reason is that the Academy voters are not evolving. They aren’t really interested in what the public wants. They aren’t interested in what the critics think. They merely vote per the films presented to them each season by the awards strategists. It has created a bubble.

The second reason is that they have not and will not diversify in terms of nominating women or people of color, movies about women or people of color. You think the complaints were bad this year, wait until they go back to five. In fact, what they don’t realize and what many people don’t realize is this: there really is no going back.

The Academy voter who wrote me said having ten nomination slots for members “only invites more mediocrity.” That read to me like a “let them eat cake” moment. If a secret club far removed from reality and “the people” is what they want, that is exactly where they’re headed. Why, well because they are stubbornly holding on to “the Oscar movie.”

The only time they didn’t was with ten nomination slots in 2009 and 2010, wherein a diverse selection of films were nominated — films about women, directed by women, action films, genre films, animation – that reflects what is happening IN HOLLYWOOD. The Producers Guild manages to do it perfectly fine since 2009. But the Academy has to deal with their whiny voters who are too lazy to put down ten and want it to be five, “because it’s ALWAYS BEEN FIVE.”

Those of us in the business of watching Oscar know that this change was inevitable. This is the direction they really want to move in. Thus, that’s likely what’s going to happen. You think it’s white and male now, just you wait.

On the other hand – what I like about five Best Picture nominees is that with the current system more has not equaled better or more interesting. More has just meant “more Oscar movies.” With more than five, the power of the director has been greatly diminished. Even though this year it didn’t split, the two categories Picture and Director are now regarded separately than they were for many decades from the mid 1940s on to 2009.

This year, the problems were in the categories that were limited to five, like Best Director, the acting and writing categories. Though it would make the stodgy older voters annoyed even more, the way to go is more nomination slots throughout, not less. Say, six per category and not five.  Why not? This would especially benefit the Documentary feature category. Just imagine all of the films flooding into the race in that category. It’s absurd to keep them only at five.

They will go back to five and people will complain about them even worse than they do now. I think – ten nomination slots, ten Best Pictures of the year and be done with it.

Read the scoop at HR.