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Oscar Roundtable 2011 – Take One

 

Welcome to our annual roundtable, third year running.  We pose some questions to some of the writers and bloggers we know for insight.  The participants this time are Inside Oscar‘s Damien Bona; The Oscar Warrior at Coming Soon; Edward Douglas;  Deadline‘s Pete Hammond; Grantland‘s Hollywood Perspectus columnist, Mark Harris;  The Toronto Star‘s Oscar columnist, Pete Howell;  EW‘s Oscar-watch columnist, Dave Karger;  Living in Cinema‘s Craig Kennedy;  In Contention‘s Guy Lodge; Cinemablend‘s Oscar columnist, Katey Rich; Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil;  The Wrap‘s The Odds columnist Steve Pond; The Film Experience‘s Nathaniel Rogers.

1. It’s either a sign of our collective sanity or insanity that it is now normal procedure to predict films that haven’t yet been seen for Best Picture and performances that haven’t yet been seen. It’s one thing to think maybe they will be nominated, but to win? Do you think that this helps or hurts both our enjoyment of these films and their chances in the Oscar race?

Bona: This actually is not something new. I remember in late summer/early Autumn 1995 feeling dispirited about the Best Picture race and thinking it was not going to be any fun because everybody KNEW that “The American President” was a lock to win the top Academy Award. One thought sadly of the other movies opening that fall and holiday season and how those forlorn films needn’t even bother with Oscar campaigns; better the studios give ballyhoo money to charity. As it turned out, The American President received a total of one nomination, for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score. On the other hand, Paul Newman’s victory for “The Color of Money” was a foregone conclusion long before the picture opened. That one did pan out, even as the movie itself did turn out to be somewhat of a disappointment, so what seem possibly to be foolhardy pronouncements are not necessarily a sign of insanity. (Then again, four years earlier “The Verdict” had been seen as Newman’s pre-ordained Oscar winner, but that was before we were all blind-sided by “Gandhi.”)

I don’t think getting labeled the year’s inevitable winner should affect our enjoyment of a film, although, admittedly, such Oscar buzz can raise undue expectations and lead to a letdown. It is more fun for audiences to discover movies for themselves, but in today’s world of über-high-profile Oscar p.r, the emergence of genuine sleepers is a rarity. Being declared an unstoppable force also opens a movie up to a backlash, since taking glee in toppling pedestals is simple human nature; let’s face it, there is great satisfaction in “proving” experts wrong. This attitude surely extends to Academy voters, who must take umbrage at being told by the entertainment media that it’s already irrefutable who and what is the year’s best, something the producers of “The Social Network” can readily attest to.

Douglas: All this does is set higher expectations and make it important that the movies the studios are holding until December are as good as they think to be able to stand up to those expectations as well as the stronger competition that comes with movies released earlier in the year that have been seen and discussed for a lot longer. We’ve seen very few movies come in at the last minute and win it all–Million Dollar Baby and Chicago–but that becomes harder and harder each year. The best bet is to show your stronger movies at film festivals and get support and then hold their release until November or December, which was the key for movies like Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men and The King’s Speech, as well as many Oscar acting winners. It makes sense that the discussions start in September because that’s when the film festivals start and if you have a case like this year where people get through the season without a clear victor in any category, then of course you’re going to have people optimistically making presumptions that the best is yet to come.

Hammond: I have often said I feel sorry for the filmmakers whose movies open in the last four months of the year. There is such undue pressure on them now and everyone, media and blogger wise, goes into each film assessing its Oscar chances rather than just its worth as a MOVIE. Yes, I think it is all a sign of our collective insanity.

Harris: I’m not sure I’d chart it on the sanity/insanity spectrum. But it does seem a little like the equivalent of the comment-board guy who posts “First!” and then has nothing else to say. Obviously, it’s naïve to think that quality is the only thing that figures into an Oscar win. But it’s just as naïve to assume that quality matters so little that you can make a judgment without even seeing the movie. Isn’t half the fun of writing about the Oscars the chance to write about the movies themselves? Why deprive ourselves of that?

I don’t think it makes any difference to a film’s chances to predict a win before it screens; creating a premature aura of inevitability can lead to a backlash as often as not, so it’s really a toss-up. As for enjoyment, I speak only for myself when I say that walking into any film with nothing more than its potential nominations in mind is a crappy way to treat the movie and a crappy way to treat your own viewing experience.

Howell: I think it’s fair, reasonable and fun to speculation on the Oscar nominees. It can also serve a useful purpose, to help people in narrowing their choices or broadening them — the latter by seeing a good film that perhaps they’d missed.
I think it gets destructive when people start declaring winners this early in the game, which is arrogant and foolish. Could anyone have predicted in September a few years back that The Hurt Locker would eventually triumph over Avatar? Predictions on winners really shouldn’t start until the Oscar nominees are announced.

Karger: It’s definitely unfortunate (and I say that as someone who makes early lists without seeing the lion’s share of the holiday-season movies). I do think there should be a moratorium on predicting an Oscar WINNER until at least mid-November. Is that too much to ask?

Kennedy: (sticking fingers in ears) lalalalalalalaitstooearlytoothinkaboutthislalalalalalalalala

Lodge: As for whether it inhibits our enjoyment of the films, I suppose that’s up to the individual: I find it very easy to keep my personal feelings about a film separate from my projections for its future. If I’m predicting something will score with the Academy, I’m not necessarily predicting I’ll love it too. Similarly, I can often thoroughly enjoy a film while being quite aware that it won’t work for many. Oscar potential is a secondary consideration, as it should be for anyone who really loves cinema.

O’Neil: Speculation about films unseen is fine — it builds interest. Is it unfair or does it hurt a film? No. The speculation is always always positive. Lots of people right now are predicting great Oscar things for “War Horse,” but who in the blogosphere is predicting the film will fail? Nobody. The reason that early speculation is an issue right now is because the studios have recently pushed back the release of Oscar films till late in the year. After the Oscars moved up on the calendar in 2004, studios moved up release dates to October, but now they’ve returned to late November and December so all we can do is speculate. That’s fine. And it’s fun.

Pond: As somebody who has done exactly this, I guess I can’t really complain about it. Look, I know it’s nuts to predict winners that you haven’t seen, and I try to be very up front about that when I do it. I’m just trying to be entertaining — and if it hurts your or my or somebody else’s enjoyment of these films, then we’re taking all of this too seriously. Of course, taking it all too seriously falls somewhere between an occupational hazard and a necessity in this line of work.

Rich: I’m not sure I’m noticing any more insanity than usual this year– we’ve always had to reserve tentative spots for late-season entries that seemed like likely contenders, whether or not they turned out to be worthwhile (True Grit) or not (Nine). You can put together your Best Actress lineup all you want based on what’s out here, but you have to acknowledge that Meryl Streep is at least in the consideration and with a significant likelihood to knock out someone you might already have seen. It’s not insanity to me–depending on how it’s executed, of course– but just an acknowledgement that it’s early days yet.

Rogers: Being seen as a Future Nominee ahead of time 100% helps you if the achievement is somewhere in the wide fuzzy area between “sure thing” and “for your consideration” because you can take on a sheen of “nominatable” or “worthy” that you might not have earned on your own. It’s really not that much different from the advantage of being a proven brand like a Streep or a Scorsese or whomever. You don’t have to earn a place on the board with your new work. You’re already a game piece. You just have to worry about winning. It’s taken as gospel that we as viewers are supposed to assume that some filmmakers and some actors are just brilliant every time and our only job is to decide “very brilliant” “somewhat brilliant” or “not one of their best but still brilliant”. I’m only half joking. This is a very real problem I think in honest discussions of merit.

As far as our enjoyment of films? That depends on the viewer but all of these rooting interests in unseen films and performances have made for some strange shifts in the general film conversation. rational conversations about merit.

2. Since the Academy has decided to not go with a solid ten nominees, and to favor those films number one votes only (no film with no number one votes can get nominated) doesn’t this ensure that Academy demographics will play a key role? For example, since the majority of them are white and male do we think this will inhibit films directed by women?

Bona: No, I don’t think this is a problem for the hypothesis supposes that white males – or at least most white males – will vote only for movies made by their own kind. Given the generally liberal make-up of Academy members, I assume white male voters are happy to vote for films with women behind the camera if they feel the film is of the requisite quality. In the past, a movie needed just one first place vote to remain in the running past the preliminary round – and presumably just about every film that was eligible (at least films above the level of, say, “Tooth Fairy”) would have had somebody involved with it listing it as his or her number one choice. Now a movie must receive 5% of first place votes cast. Certainly, “The Hurt Locker” and “The Piano” met this criterion. That women have been – and continue to be – under-represented at the Oscars is more a reflection on the industry itself and what gets a green light than on the Academy.

Douglas: Absolutely, and it’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important for the Academy to release more details about their membership–percentage of men to women, how the membership is broken down by age/race, just because it’ll offer more transparency on how things happen the way they do. We all assume that the Academy are old people, that they have very traditional values, but lots of the winners prove otherwise. Think about it. The Departed, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker–none of these are traditional Oscar pictures, not like last year’s King’s Speech,which was a throwback. And then what about movies like Black Swan and Monster’s Ball and Monster which offered winners in the actress category? I think good movies are good movies and when you have an Academy of members who have been involved with making movies, I think they have some idea what’s a movie of quality over a movie that’s just a crowdpleaser, at least most of the time. Just remember that the new rules only affect nominations, not who they pick to win, and women directors will stand just as good a chance in that category as they have in past years and in recent years, more women have been nominated and won.

Hammond: No, I don’t believe the Academy thinks that way. I know a lot of white males in the Academy who were behind The Hurt Locker and probably didn’t know – or care – if it was directed by a woman. They just liked the film. In the end that’s what matters , particularly the passion vote for a movie. It is why Midnight In Paris stands such a good chance. Everyone still has really fond memories of it and it could translate into number one votes.

Harris: Demographics have always been a factor, but the rule that a movie needs five percent of the total #1 votes to get a nomination definitely brings demos into the foreground. Suddenly it makes more sense to campaign to Academy niches—women, old people, populists, Europeans, directors, actors, art-film lovers, traditionalists, whatever–instead of just selling the idea that your movie is “an Academy movie,” whatever that means. Presumably, that’s good for the diversity of the slate.

Howell: I’m still not sure I like the expansion to 10 Best Picture nominees, and I’m even less enthusiastic about the sliding scale we’re going to have this year. There was something pure and disciplined about sticking with five nominees. But I’ll be very interested to see what happens this year. As for women, I don’t think Academy demographics conspire against them in any serious way, aside from the obvious fact that most films are directed by men. If there were a conspiracy, then Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker wouldn’t have won big two years ago — and she’s the first to insist that gender doesn’t matter.

Karger: I’m not sure I buy this. I feel like many different kinds of films will get No. 1 votes just as they’ll get twos and threes.

Kennedy: Eh. It’ll probably inhibit several films, but that’s why they instituted the rule. To say that it will necessarily inhibit movies from a certain class of filmmakers assumes that most white males can’t appreciate movies that aren’t about them. I’m not sure that’s entirely true and probably less so than it ever was.

Lodge: I think people are overestimating the difference this rule-change will make to the composition of the Best Picture field — it’s not like it was ever possible for a film to be nominated without a sizable portion of number-one votes. Similarly, you could argue that the Academy’s demographic makeup has always been an obstacle to, say, female-directed, non-white or foreign-language films in the Oscar race, with or without the rule change — that’s why so few have been nominated, after all. So what’s new? I do, however, think it’s a little reductive to assume people deliberately side with their own demographic when voting — if plenty of white men hadn’t voted for Kathryn Bigelow and Geoffrey Fletcher last year, Oscar history wouldn’t have been made.

The bottom line is that people vote for the films that move them — those often happen to be the films they most identify with, which in turn are often about, and made by, people much like themselves. (And it’s not always strictly a demographic issue — a lot of people are going to be voting for The Artist this year, not because they’re French or were alive in the silent era, but because they’re artists, and the film taps into their own career insecurities.) That’s insular human instinct, albeit not without exceptions — but certainly not something that a slight statistical change is going to affect one way or another.

O’Neil: Films from a female perspective seldom get respect from Oscar voters. Yeah, “Black Swan” did well last year, but would it have prevailed without those steamy sex scenes that surely titillated the academy geezers? This year they face their ultimate test: “The Help” — it’s not only about women, but black women and it’s not about sex. Will they embrace it?

Pond: I think demographics probably had more impact under the old system (when more second, third and fourth place votes would end up counting) than the new one. This new system rewards passionate minorities — you don’t need a big consensus to get nominated, you need a small group who’ll put you at the top of their ballot. Smaller factions within the Academy can have a very strong voice now, as long as they can muster 250-300 votes.

Now, if only those passionate minorities had some films directed by women to vote for…

Rich: The “films directed by women” part of your prompt is sadly irrelevant this year– unless Phyllida Lloyd developed serious directing chops between Mamma Mia and The Iron Lady, or the Academy suddenly takes a shine to the amazing Kelly Reichardt, no films directed by women will really be in the conversation. But otherwise, I don’t see how this number ones rule change really alters it that much. The Best Picture nominees have always been the most widely liked, not the best, films seen by the collective Academy, so movies that are weirder and darker will get less love from the old-skewing Academy. If there’s some really weird outlier in this year’s nominees we might have cause to worry, but I’m not expecting much of a shift this year.

Rogers: Academy demographics have always played a key role. Though it’s hard to imagine AMPAS voting collectively for a new Terms of Endearment or whatnot they voted for it at the time and back then they were even whiter and even more male. I think it depends on the film. All things are cyclical… at some point “women’s pictures” will have to come back in fashion. Though Kathryn Bigelow herself, the only female winner, already decimates the notion that women directors automatically make “feminine” films.

3.Should the Academy go back to five Best Picture nominees, return to ten, or keep throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks?

Bona: Clearly, the 10 nominee experiment was a failure. Oscar ballots contained movies that had no business competing as finalists, with the unfortunate side-effect of such obvious fillers as “The Blind Side” and “A Serious Man” now forever having the phrase “Academy Award Nominee” linked to them. This new voting process should, logically result in a slate of nominees which accurately reflects the collective opinion of the Academy as to what truly constitutes outstanding contemporary filmmaking and as such will offer a much more incisive glimpse into the Hollywood mindset. As for people who love predicting the nominations – which means just about anyone who comes to Awards Daily – the new procedure makes the game more challenging and more fun. In the previous two years no one could claim bragging rights in doing well with predictions because there were no more than a dozen genuine contenders – whittling the list down to 10 was no special accomplishment. But to try to figure out what films have engendered the passion now necessary for a nomination, and how many such movies there are, well, that will be a major challenge and I expect it to be great fun.

Douglas: I’m interested in the new policy to see how many movies get into the Best Picture race before deciding. When you think about it, getting 5% of the voters to make a movie their #1 choice isn’t that hard, especially when you’re considering there may be up to 10 Best Pictures. If any one single movie gets more than 10% of the voters picking it as their #1 then that means there’s a chance there being one less BP nominee, but if you think about how many movies are released and how different people’s opinions are, there seems to be plenty of room for people to love one movie over another. One assumes that this rule would knock out movies like The Blind Side or District 9, but it’s easy to thin that of 6,000 Academy members, at least 350 of them may have seen and loved those movies. Last year’s BP choices could have easily had members split on their favorites because King’s Speech, Social Network, The Fighter, True Grit, Inception, Black Swan, 127 Hours etc. were such different movies. So are The Artist, The Help, Moneyball, The Descendants, Drive, The Tree of Life, etc. Heck, some Academy members may have already decided one of the four of those that have been seen is their favorite movie of the year and no matter what comes out, that won’t change.

I think the only thing we can all agree on without any disagreement is that Pixar is not getting into the Best Picture race. :)

Hammond:  I liked ten. Still do.

Harris: Well, they’ve been throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, and all it’s gotten them is a shit-covered wall. So, yes, I’d love a return to five nominees. Expanding it to ten made last year’s best picture nomination race really boring, and though it may have broadened the definition of “best,” it also lowered the bar. I’m an Oscar traditionalist—I think every time the Academy chases relevance or youth or higher ratings, it fails. That said, I appreciate the element of suspense they’ve added this year, because anything that makes our job as prognosticators harder is fine with me. On nomination day, I want to be surprised as much as I want to be right.

Howell: Expanding on my answer for question 2, I would say that I’m in favour of one more year of experimenting with the Best Picture number. If this year’s event doesn’t produce a demonstrably more interesting race, then the Academy should go back to five Best Picture nominees.

Karger: I’m already on the record as a purist, so I say five is plenty.

Kennedy: The Academy should keep doing whatever it thinks it needs to do to remain relevant, to the extent that it is even still relevant. If something doesn’t work, they need to be ready to tinker with it or toss it out.

Lodge: At this point, it doesn’t matter much to me what number of nominees the Academy decides it wants — seven’s a lucky number, why not go with that? What concerns me is that the frantic adjustment and re-adjustment of the rules in the last two years alone indicates an organisation with no sense of consistency or confidence in itself. Solid, well-run, influential institutions don’t keep shifting the goalposts like this. This is supposedly the most senior, prestigious collective of film professionals in the world — they should be calling the shots, but instead they look desperately concerned about how they’re perceived. Make it five, make it ten, but stick with it and exert some authority.

O’Neil: Oscar should have a Top 10 list just like everybody else, but he should be consistent — have a Top 10 list of directors, writers, actors and actresses too. Where’s the logic in having 10 or 8 nominees for Best Picture, but 5 nominees for Best Director? That’s ridiculous.

Pond: I had big reservations about 10, but I didn’t hate the two years of it — I’m glad most of those extra films got nominated, and I only think one of the 20 nominees was completely undeserving. Yes, eventually we would have had a year with some really cringeworthy nominees, and the new system might prevent that and might prove to be a decent way to fix something that wasn’t particularly broken. Sometimes, throwing shit at the wall makes pretty patterns.

That said, five is more elegant and the nominations mean more. In the long run, that’s probably where it belongs.

Rich: I’m annoyed by the total vagueness for this year, not knowing how many nominees there will be until they’re right in front of you, but it could still make for a more interesting race. I’d be happier if they’d just stick to one thing– the switch away from the 10 after only 2 years is embarrassing– but if this sliding scale winds up being what works, I’m perfectly happy to keep it.

Rogers: Ten had the interesting bonus of painting a fuller picture of the year but it also robbed the nominations of so much speculative drama. A changing number each year should fill all charts and statistics lovers with terror… there’s just no symmetry. Decades and decades and decades of history suggest that five was just fine so my vote is “Retreat! Retreat!” Who knew that Batman could wreak such a long crisis of confidence on an institution that predates him and that doesn’t even care about superheroes!

0 Comments on this Post

  1. For Damien Bona to call ‘A Serious Man’ an “obvious filler” and put it on the same level as ‘The Blind Side’ is insulting. I think that the ‘A Serious Man’/’Blind Side’ nominations operate on two different sides. One is a solid argument FOR 10 nominees and the other is a solid argument AGAINST.

  2. For Damien Bona to call ‘A Serious Man’ an “obvious filler” and put it on the same level as ‘The Blind Side’ is insulting. I think that the ‘A Serious Man’/’Blind Side’ nominations operate on two different sides. One is a solid argument FOR 10 nominees and the other is a solid argument AGAINST.

  3. “Who knew that Batman could wreak such a long crisis of confidence on an institution that predates him and that doesn’t even care about superheroes!”

    LOL. Go Batman!

  4. “Who knew that Batman could wreak such a long crisis of confidence on an institution that predates him and that doesn’t even care about superheroes!”

    LOL. Go Batman!

  5. StandAloneMatt

    The problem wasn’t with the number of nominees, it was with the voters. Some years with five we got obvious filler, and some years were an embarrassment of riches – where excellent films couldn’t make the cut.

    The problem the Academy has, and its perception of being out of touch – is 100% due to some of the voters.

    I don’t care if you don’t like “The Dark Knight”, or Wall-E – but when you refuse to even consider them (or watch them) – because you automatically dismiss cartoons and comic book movies – then you are out of touch, and bring the credibility of the entire Academy down with you.

  6. StandAloneMatt

    The problem wasn’t with the number of nominees, it was with the voters. Some years with five we got obvious filler, and some years were an embarrassment of riches – where excellent films couldn’t make the cut.

    The problem the Academy has, and its perception of being out of touch – is 100% due to some of the voters.

    I don’t care if you don’t like “The Dark Knight”, or Wall-E – but when you refuse to even consider them (or watch them) – because you automatically dismiss cartoons and comic book movies – then you are out of touch, and bring the credibility of the entire Academy down with you.

  7. “Oscar should have a top 10 list just like everybody else, but he should be consistent — have a Top 10 list of directors, writers, actors and actresses too. Where’s the logic in having 10 or 8 nominees for Best Picture, but 5 nominees for Best Director? That’s ridiculous.”
    – Totaly agree here. Having 10 BP noms but only 5 BD noms should, logically, hamstring five of the BP contenders. Opening up the numbers in the acting categories would allow lesser known actors some shot at the limelight. Otherwise, I say go back to the noble 5 in every category.

    “Well, they’ve been throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, and all it’s gotten them is a shit-covered wall.”
    -Love it!

  8. “Oscar should have a top 10 list just like everybody else, but he should be consistent — have a Top 10 list of directors, writers, actors and actresses too. Where’s the logic in having 10 or 8 nominees for Best Picture, but 5 nominees for Best Director? That’s ridiculous.”
    – Totaly agree here. Having 10 BP noms but only 5 BD noms should, logically, hamstring five of the BP contenders. Opening up the numbers in the acting categories would allow lesser known actors some shot at the limelight. Otherwise, I say go back to the noble 5 in every category.

    “Well, they’ve been throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, and all it’s gotten them is a shit-covered wall.”
    -Love it!

  9. Agreed with Alex C. Bona should be ashamed of himself. You don’t have to like A Serious Man, but to say that a truly original, dark, and thought-provoking work by established American auteurs is as disposable w/r/t awards worthiness as some lowest-common-denominator crowd-pleaser is beyond obtuse.

    Perhaps it’s not just the Best Picture lineup that could benefit from scaling back to 5, but Sasha’s round table roster as well.

  10. Agreed with Alex C. Bona should be ashamed of himself. You don’t have to like A Serious Man, but to say that a truly original, dark, and thought-provoking work by established American auteurs is as disposable w/r/t awards worthiness as some lowest-common-denominator crowd-pleaser is beyond obtuse.

    Perhaps it’s not just the Best Picture lineup that could benefit from scaling back to 5, but Sasha’s round table roster as well.

  11. I’m only halfway done reading but A Serious Man is supposed to be a sucky movie? lol Since then?

    (I’ll be back)

  12. I’m only halfway done reading but A Serious Man is supposed to be a sucky movie? lol Since then?

    (I’ll be back)

  13. I’ve been wondering what would happen if this new math got us less than 5 nominees. For example, everyone could vote for the same 3 movies in first place. Then what?

    And is it possible for one movie to eat up so many #1s that no one else can get to the magic number? I mean suppose War Horse for example is stupendous and everyone loves it? If you have Spielberg in Oscar contention with a ginormous movie? Could it happen?

    I had hoped for more nominees for every category for a long time before they decided to do ten. I’m sad most people hated it. :( I just thought the more the merrier but I guess not.

  14. I’ve been wondering what would happen if this new math got us less than 5 nominees. For example, everyone could vote for the same 3 movies in first place. Then what?

    And is it possible for one movie to eat up so many #1s that no one else can get to the magic number? I mean suppose War Horse for example is stupendous and everyone loves it? If you have Spielberg in Oscar contention with a ginormous movie? Could it happen?

    I had hoped for more nominees for every category for a long time before they decided to do ten. I’m sad most people hated it. :( I just thought the more the merrier but I guess not.

  15. The Color of Money was a good film.

  16. The Color of Money was a good film.

  17. Pierre de Plume

    Jeez, let’s not jump on Damien Bona for saying what he did. Let’s face it, good as it was, A Serious Man is not the kind of film that receives widespread acclaim from AMPAS. I don’t know whether Bona actually liked the film, but my take is that he was speaking in terms of Academy taste.

  18. Pierre de Plume

    Jeez, let’s not jump on Damien Bona for saying what he did. Let’s face it, good as it was, A Serious Man is not the kind of film that receives widespread acclaim from AMPAS. I don’t know whether Bona actually liked the film, but my take is that he was speaking in terms of Academy taste.

  19. I like ten nominees and wish it was here to stay, but so long as we have more than five, I’ll be happy.

    Personally, I think it is good that movies like the Blind Side once again have an opportunity to be nominated, the insularity of the cineastes is a big part of America’s declining interest in the Oscars, and 10 BP nominees helps shake out some of the moribund quality of nominating only ‘in-group’ prestige medicine-movies. It’s also worth pointing out that A Serious Man accompanied the Blind Side, the films are polar opposites in terms of the demographics they serve. One is a film that any average viewer hates and reviles and the other is a film that any average cineaste hates and reviles. However your average viewer hates A Serious Man because it’s opaque and your average cineaste hates Blind Side because it is popular. Personally, I think the average viewer has a more sophisticated objection than the cineaste in this case. Strawmen, for the win. ;) (please don’t take this super seriously and get yourself worked up into a lather)

    Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. Don’t scorn the Academy for not having extremely discriminating taste, embrace them for demonstrating a very broad spectrum of taste. Personally, I’m more disturbed at the herd behavior attempting to “SHAME” Bona (Lazarus in particular) in these comments than I am by his comment on the Blind Side. Nothing like trying to quash dissent, repress opinion, and try and force everyone to toe your personal line of taste.

    BTW, read the official rules, nowhere in the official rules does it say they need 5% of number one votes, rather it says a picture may not be nominated without five percent of the total votes cast. I know the press release says number one votes, but the rules–released months after the press release announcing the rules change–do not reflect what the press release claimed.

  20. I like ten nominees and wish it was here to stay, but so long as we have more than five, I’ll be happy.

    Personally, I think it is good that movies like the Blind Side once again have an opportunity to be nominated, the insularity of the cineastes is a big part of America’s declining interest in the Oscars, and 10 BP nominees helps shake out some of the moribund quality of nominating only ‘in-group’ prestige medicine-movies. It’s also worth pointing out that A Serious Man accompanied the Blind Side, the films are polar opposites in terms of the demographics they serve. One is a film that any average viewer hates and reviles and the other is a film that any average cineaste hates and reviles. However your average viewer hates A Serious Man because it’s opaque and your average cineaste hates Blind Side because it is popular. Personally, I think the average viewer has a more sophisticated objection than the cineaste in this case. Strawmen, for the win. ;) (please don’t take this super seriously and get yourself worked up into a lather)

    Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. Don’t scorn the Academy for not having extremely discriminating taste, embrace them for demonstrating a very broad spectrum of taste. Personally, I’m more disturbed at the herd behavior attempting to “SHAME” Bona (Lazarus in particular) in these comments than I am by his comment on the Blind Side. Nothing like trying to quash dissent, repress opinion, and try and force everyone to toe your personal line of taste.

    BTW, read the official rules, nowhere in the official rules does it say they need 5% of number one votes, rather it says a picture may not be nominated without five percent of the total votes cast. I know the press release says number one votes, but the rules–released months after the press release announcing the rules change–do not reflect what the press release claimed.

  21. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    If you have ten slots you have to fill them. I personally think the Academy should have given it a year or two more since last year’s slate was so good. This would have been a really good year for ten.

  22. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    If you have ten slots you have to fill them. I personally think the Academy should have given it a year or two more since last year’s slate was so good. This would have been a really good year for ten.

  23. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    I’ve been wondering what would happen if this new math got us less than 5 nominees. For example, everyone could vote for the same 3 movies in first place. Then what?

    That would be so funny. I don’t know if that could ever happen. Generally you can’t find people that much in agreement, not here, not on Twitter, not out in the public, and not in the Academy. Some will like The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Descendants. Here’s the tricky part. Usually Picture and Director kind of match up (with five nominees for BP). So a good rule of thumb here is to pick the five Best Director nominees and work backwards from there to find your best picture 5. And then figure on 1 to 3 extra films that will be nominated, maybe, without their popular director also being chosen.

  24. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    I’ve been wondering what would happen if this new math got us less than 5 nominees. For example, everyone could vote for the same 3 movies in first place. Then what?

    That would be so funny. I don’t know if that could ever happen. Generally you can’t find people that much in agreement, not here, not on Twitter, not out in the public, and not in the Academy. Some will like The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Descendants. Here’s the tricky part. Usually Picture and Director kind of match up (with five nominees for BP). So a good rule of thumb here is to pick the five Best Director nominees and work backwards from there to find your best picture 5. And then figure on 1 to 3 extra films that will be nominated, maybe, without their popular director also being chosen.

  25. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    LOL. Go Batman!

    Ha! Well I think it’s more like: they were seen as out of touch that year (and they were).

  26. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    LOL. Go Batman!

    Ha! Well I think it’s more like: they were seen as out of touch that year (and they were).

  27. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    A Serious Man was okay – not great Coens by any means. It just goes to show you how much they love the Coen bros.

  28. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    A Serious Man was okay – not great Coens by any means. It just goes to show you how much they love the Coen bros.

  29. ” a serious man” is fantastic… maybe not top-tier coens but certainly on the very next level… judging from this compiled critics http://moviecitynews.com/2010/01/the-top-ten-chart-for-january-21-2010/ it was a top 5 film of 2009 and metacritic (which after “no country” and “fargo” its right with the best) backs that up as well.

  30. ” a serious man” is fantastic… maybe not top-tier coens but certainly on the very next level… judging from this compiled critics http://moviecitynews.com/2010/01/the-top-ten-chart-for-january-21-2010/ it was a top 5 film of 2009 and metacritic (which after “no country” and “fargo” its right with the best) backs that up as well.

  31. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Yeah, You could argue that A Serious Man was one of the best films of the year. But when you think about The Dark Knight changing Oscar history you don’t suppose a movie like A Serious Man is what they meant. BUT I’m not complaining – as BPs go I think it was a decent enough choice, even if totally insular to the critics/academy world. It would also have been nice to see them branch out to embrace genre movies, which was probably the intention, though that never happened. They ended up going with the critically acclaimed films that were pushed the hardest by the Oscar strategists and not with movies that would have had trouble getting in without that same support.

  32. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Yeah, You could argue that A Serious Man was one of the best films of the year. But when you think about The Dark Knight changing Oscar history you don’t suppose a movie like A Serious Man is what they meant. BUT I’m not complaining – as BPs go I think it was a decent enough choice, even if totally insular to the critics/academy world. It would also have been nice to see them branch out to embrace genre movies, which was probably the intention, though that never happened. They ended up going with the critically acclaimed films that were pushed the hardest by the Oscar strategists and not with movies that would have had trouble getting in without that same support.

  33. i agree with your last post sasha (and i adore “the dark knight”… i just don’t count “a serious man” as a throw in type film (like perhaps 127 hours, a film i like a lot). I usually think the critics do a lot better job of rewarding good work and genre work than the academy. i’d be happy if the 10 nominees mirrored the moviecitynews.com compiled top 10 list. more genre films, less campaigning, more artistic ambition rewarded, etc.

    the only reason it went from 5 nominees to 10 nominees is to deepen more pockets- that’s it, plain and simple… i have mixed feelings about this. i’m 100% against doing something completely for the money (especially when it comes to art) but all this campaigning and the advertising tag “best picture nominee” helps sell tickets to usually pretty good and artistic films. This in turn helps get more of these artistically ambitious films made for the next year and so on… so its hard for me to be against that. it did take the totally take away the prestige of being a best picture nominee though… that used to mean something.

    127 hours is still much stronger than “the blind side” so readers of this comment please don’t think i’m comparing those two by calling it a “throw in” which I’m only doing in the context of this argument for best picture. “the blind side” was an average movie. not an average best picture nom, like an average movie out of the thousands that are produced and made every year

  34. i agree with your last post sasha (and i adore “the dark knight”… i just don’t count “a serious man” as a throw in type film (like perhaps 127 hours, a film i like a lot). I usually think the critics do a lot better job of rewarding good work and genre work than the academy. i’d be happy if the 10 nominees mirrored the moviecitynews.com compiled top 10 list. more genre films, less campaigning, more artistic ambition rewarded, etc.

    the only reason it went from 5 nominees to 10 nominees is to deepen more pockets- that’s it, plain and simple… i have mixed feelings about this. i’m 100% against doing something completely for the money (especially when it comes to art) but all this campaigning and the advertising tag “best picture nominee” helps sell tickets to usually pretty good and artistic films. This in turn helps get more of these artistically ambitious films made for the next year and so on… so its hard for me to be against that. it did take the totally take away the prestige of being a best picture nominee though… that used to mean something.

    127 hours is still much stronger than “the blind side” so readers of this comment please don’t think i’m comparing those two by calling it a “throw in” which I’m only doing in the context of this argument for best picture. “the blind side” was an average movie. not an average best picture nom, like an average movie out of the thousands that are produced and made every year

  35. Pierre de Plume says:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm
    Jeez, let’s not jump on Damien Bona for saying what he did. Let’s face it, good as it was, A Serious Man is not the kind of film that receives widespread acclaim from AMPAS. I don’t know whether Bona actually liked the film, but my take is that he was speaking in terms of Academy taste.

    Thank you, Pierre. That was exactly my point — in a year in which there were only 5 Best Picture nominees, there would be no way it would be a finalist. Hell, it didn’t even receive a Golden Globe Comedy/Musical nomination in a year where the Foreign Press saw fit to nominate It’s Complicated and Nine. And so, unlike such estimable serious films as Leaving Las Vegas, Mulholland Drive, Before Sunset, History of Violence and Kinsey, A Serious Man gets to be labeled an Oscar Nominee for Best Picture simply because it had the good fortune of being released the year to was.

  36. Pierre de Plume says:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm
    Jeez, let’s not jump on Damien Bona for saying what he did. Let’s face it, good as it was, A Serious Man is not the kind of film that receives widespread acclaim from AMPAS. I don’t know whether Bona actually liked the film, but my take is that he was speaking in terms of Academy taste.

    Thank you, Pierre. That was exactly my point — in a year in which there were only 5 Best Picture nominees, there would be no way it would be a finalist. Hell, it didn’t even receive a Golden Globe Comedy/Musical nomination in a year where the Foreign Press saw fit to nominate It’s Complicated and Nine. And so, unlike such estimable serious films as Leaving Las Vegas, Mulholland Drive, Before Sunset, History of Violence and Kinsey, A Serious Man gets to be labeled an Oscar Nominee for Best Picture simply because it had the good fortune of being released the year to was.

  37. How can these critics/experts state that when there were 5 nominees it was pure with a straight face?

    Take 2008 for example,Frost/Nixon has been instantly forgotten,Button is probably Fincher’s weakest movie to date and The Reader doesn’t even deserve a comment.

    I personally don’t like Slumdog but it was the thing of the moment,it had great acclaim,great reviews,terrific box office so it deserved to be there…Milk was really good,great reviews,superb performance by Penn,so that too was deserving.

    That’s 2 films out of 5 that really presented what 2008 offered as a year.

    They ignored both TDK and Wall-E which were pinnacles of their respective genres,films that were ranked at 1 and 2 at the end-of-year top 10 lists and films that have left a legacy in only 3 years of their existence.

    Not to mention films that made it in other years like Chocolat,Ray,Finding Neverland,Juno,Seabiscuit,A Beautiful Mind,The Cider House Rules,The Full Monty,etc.. over Almost Famous,Before Sunset,The Assasinations of Jesse James,City Of God,The Incredibles,Children Of Men,The Lives of Others,etc most of which were snubbed because they were ”genre” films,too small or foreign.

    When the academy stops discriminating movies because they are animated/foreign/indie/sci-fi,then we can discuss some kind of purity of choice.Until then,the 10 will always be superior to 5 because thanks to that rule Up/Toy Story 3/Inception/A Serious Man/District 9/127 Hours all terrific films in their own right got nominated when otherwise they wouldn’t have.

    The Blind Side,while not great by any means,had superior reviews to The Reader and Chocolat so it’s not like it was a choice beneath the academy and only due to the change.It was right up there with decades of conservative choices.

  38. How can these critics/experts state that when there were 5 nominees it was pure with a straight face?

    Take 2008 for example,Frost/Nixon has been instantly forgotten,Button is probably Fincher’s weakest movie to date and The Reader doesn’t even deserve a comment.

    I personally don’t like Slumdog but it was the thing of the moment,it had great acclaim,great reviews,terrific box office so it deserved to be there…Milk was really good,great reviews,superb performance by Penn,so that too was deserving.

    That’s 2 films out of 5 that really presented what 2008 offered as a year.

    They ignored both TDK and Wall-E which were pinnacles of their respective genres,films that were ranked at 1 and 2 at the end-of-year top 10 lists and films that have left a legacy in only 3 years of their existence.

    Not to mention films that made it in other years like Chocolat,Ray,Finding Neverland,Juno,Seabiscuit,A Beautiful Mind,The Cider House Rules,The Full Monty,etc.. over Almost Famous,Before Sunset,The Assasinations of Jesse James,City Of God,The Incredibles,Children Of Men,The Lives of Others,etc most of which were snubbed because they were ”genre” films,too small or foreign.

    When the academy stops discriminating movies because they are animated/foreign/indie/sci-fi,then we can discuss some kind of purity of choice.Until then,the 10 will always be superior to 5 because thanks to that rule Up/Toy Story 3/Inception/A Serious Man/District 9/127 Hours all terrific films in their own right got nominated when otherwise they wouldn’t have.

    The Blind Side,while not great by any means,had superior reviews to The Reader and Chocolat so it’s not like it was a choice beneath the academy and only due to the change.It was right up there with decades of conservative choices.

  39. I actually think Button is one of the top tier Fincher movies and better than TSN. Sure it’s him putting on his Zemeckis/Spielberg cap, but he nailed it I thought

  40. I actually think Button is one of the top tier Fincher movies and better than TSN. Sure it’s him putting on his Zemeckis/Spielberg cap, but he nailed it I thought

  41. The Great Dane

    Forget Blind Side and A Serious Man. The real AMPAS out-of-touch moment of the past couple of years was when the possible three best films of the year (WALL-E, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler) was overlooked for Frost/Nixon (bla), Benjamin Button (SO overrated and simply a cold Forrest Gump Redux) and The Reader (come on!).
    That year says it all to me. No wonder The King’s Speech got crowned last year. Hurt Locker was a message vote – a vote for America, the horrors of war, for Kathryn Bigelow, an anti-vote for Cameron, the smallness of it, the underdog story, the indie-ness of it, not so the movie itself. No Country for Old Men was a vote for the Coens. Departed was a vote for Scorsese. Some of them deserved to win, but let’s face it, the Academy wasn’t trying to break their mold. They were just voting for the people and the politics that went with that. Whenever they find a film that they REALLY fall in love with (Slumdog, Million Dollar Baby, King’s Speech), they win supreme. When Hurt Locker, Departed and No Country won, there simply wasn’t a “AMPAS love story” that was strong enough to break the popularity/politics/due vote.
    There, I said it. Kill me now, I can take it. ;)

  42. The Great Dane

    Forget Blind Side and A Serious Man. The real AMPAS out-of-touch moment of the past couple of years was when the possible three best films of the year (WALL-E, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler) was overlooked for Frost/Nixon (bla), Benjamin Button (SO overrated and simply a cold Forrest Gump Redux) and The Reader (come on!).
    That year says it all to me. No wonder The King’s Speech got crowned last year. Hurt Locker was a message vote – a vote for America, the horrors of war, for Kathryn Bigelow, an anti-vote for Cameron, the smallness of it, the underdog story, the indie-ness of it, not so the movie itself. No Country for Old Men was a vote for the Coens. Departed was a vote for Scorsese. Some of them deserved to win, but let’s face it, the Academy wasn’t trying to break their mold. They were just voting for the people and the politics that went with that. Whenever they find a film that they REALLY fall in love with (Slumdog, Million Dollar Baby, King’s Speech), they win supreme. When Hurt Locker, Departed and No Country won, there simply wasn’t a “AMPAS love story” that was strong enough to break the popularity/politics/due vote.
    There, I said it. Kill me now, I can take it. ;)

  43. Well… I’m still gonna say “A Serious Man” is the best Coen movie. And I’m pretty sure they’re never gonna reach that level again. It’s just the essence of what “a Coen movie” means, in all the right proportions.

  44. Well… I’m still gonna say “A Serious Man” is the best Coen movie. And I’m pretty sure they’re never gonna reach that level again. It’s just the essence of what “a Coen movie” means, in all the right proportions.

  45. I’m flabbergasted about that A SERIOUS MAN comment. I wonder if that person actually knows anything about the film. It wasn’t a filler, it was a very unusual sort of movie that is hardly ever recognized by the Academy – while THE BLIND SIDE is not.

  46. I’m flabbergasted about that A SERIOUS MAN comment. I wonder if that person actually knows anything about the film. It wasn’t a filler, it was a very unusual sort of movie that is hardly ever recognized by the Academy – while THE BLIND SIDE is not.

  47. Adam says: “Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. ”

    Adam, that’s as well-put a summation of the Academy and the Oscars as I’ve ever read. When talking about the Academy Awards, people need to realize that voters operate within certain fixed parameters (one could use the condescending term “middlebrow” or the slightly less condescending “upper middlebrow”. Hence, they are as unlikely to nominate a crowd-pleasing comedy like Paul Blart: Mall Cop as they are Jean-Luc Godard’s latest riff. Sure, we all want movie we favor to do well at the Oscars (it’s good for the film and its creative team), but expecting the people in the Academy to reflect one’s own taste is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Me, I don’t imagine Tree of Life will be nominated, but I can fantasize.

  48. Adam says: “Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. ”

    Adam, that’s as well-put a summation of the Academy and the Oscars as I’ve ever read. When talking about the Academy Awards, people need to realize that voters operate within certain fixed parameters (one could use the condescending term “middlebrow” or the slightly less condescending “upper middlebrow”. Hence, they are as unlikely to nominate a crowd-pleasing comedy like Paul Blart: Mall Cop as they are Jean-Luc Godard’s latest riff. Sure, we all want movie we favor to do well at the Oscars (it’s good for the film and its creative team), but expecting the people in the Academy to reflect one’s own taste is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Me, I don’t imagine Tree of Life will be nominated, but I can fantasize.

  49. A couple of thoughts:

    Firstly, I agree with Bona about the lack of recognition for women directors. It’s not an Academy problem, it’s a Hollywood system problem. I have no doubt that as soon as Hollywood start greenlighting a greater proportion of quality, ambitious films from female directors, we’ll see the nominations reflect that proportion.

    I’d also like to come into bat fro Frost/Nixon, which I think is a great film and was one of the best of 2008. Having said that, the three best of that year for me were Wall-e, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler, and none of them got nominated. So I can understand the frustration that F/N got in and none of them did – I’m just saying it’s a great film. We should probably also not forget that 2008 was one of the weakest years overall in recent times, so some duds were bound to show up.

    For the question of the 5/10/whatever BP system, with scarcity comes prestige and value, so I would say I tend towards the five nominee system. But I can see that in some years (like 2007 and probably last year) there are more than 5 legitimately great films that deserve recognition. With that in mind, I’m willing to give this new system a go. I think it’s a great idea, it’s just a question of how it plays out in the field.

  50. A couple of thoughts:

    Firstly, I agree with Bona about the lack of recognition for women directors. It’s not an Academy problem, it’s a Hollywood system problem. I have no doubt that as soon as Hollywood start greenlighting a greater proportion of quality, ambitious films from female directors, we’ll see the nominations reflect that proportion.

    I’d also like to come into bat fro Frost/Nixon, which I think is a great film and was one of the best of 2008. Having said that, the three best of that year for me were Wall-e, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler, and none of them got nominated. So I can understand the frustration that F/N got in and none of them did – I’m just saying it’s a great film. We should probably also not forget that 2008 was one of the weakest years overall in recent times, so some duds were bound to show up.

    For the question of the 5/10/whatever BP system, with scarcity comes prestige and value, so I would say I tend towards the five nominee system. But I can see that in some years (like 2007 and probably last year) there are more than 5 legitimately great films that deserve recognition. With that in mind, I’m willing to give this new system a go. I think it’s a great idea, it’s just a question of how it plays out in the field.

  51. I always disliked the change to 10 Best Film nominations. I think the Academy should stick with 5.

  52. I always disliked the change to 10 Best Film nominations. I think the Academy should stick with 5.

  53. “Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. ”

    That’s not true for most people at all.Like i’ve said in my previous post i don’t like Slumdog but i’m glad it was nominated.The oscars have a prestige that most of the time they don’t actually deserve it.They should choose the best films of the year and when the audience/critics almost unanimously agree that TDK/Wall-e were in the top 3 films of the year and they nominated movies like Button and the Reader neither of which had any noticeable acclaim they dropped the ball big time and embarrassed themselves in the eyes of many as discriminative and completely out of touch with the medium.

    When a film has tremendous critical and public acclaim and yet it’s ignored because it belongs to a particular genre,that’s when i have a problem with the academy and their safe,middlebrow choices…not necessarily because it’s a movie i like/love.

  54. “Haters need to wake up and accept that the Academy is a conglomeration of opinions, not a validation of their own personal belief system. ”

    That’s not true for most people at all.Like i’ve said in my previous post i don’t like Slumdog but i’m glad it was nominated.The oscars have a prestige that most of the time they don’t actually deserve it.They should choose the best films of the year and when the audience/critics almost unanimously agree that TDK/Wall-e were in the top 3 films of the year and they nominated movies like Button and the Reader neither of which had any noticeable acclaim they dropped the ball big time and embarrassed themselves in the eyes of many as discriminative and completely out of touch with the medium.

    When a film has tremendous critical and public acclaim and yet it’s ignored because it belongs to a particular genre,that’s when i have a problem with the academy and their safe,middlebrow choices…not necessarily because it’s a movie i like/love.

  55. Just to chime in, probably needlessly at this point, on the A Serious Man discussion, I will say that I’m glad it was nominated for Best Picture. I remember really enjoying it at the time, but some two years later, I feel a lack of passion for it and have had no desire to revisit the film. My feelings aside, that the Academy dared to nominate a film that was so weird in its storytelling and structure (yes, I’ll even submit, weirder than Black Swan) is heartening. Was it probably just the Coen bros pedigree that got it in? Most likely. But anything that gets the Academy thinking outside the box is a good thing, I think. We have seen many examples of the Academy voting for great movies/performances for completely the wrong reasons (The Departed to finally give Scorsese his due, The Hurt Locker because they didn’t want to vote for Avatar, Charlize Theron because she made herself look ugly, etc, etc, etc.) It will never be a measured meritocracy where the right films are voted on because they’re the best. So if a good movie, or even an interesting movie, manages the hit all the right bullshit boxes, politically speaking, then I say it’s better than the alternative.

    I think it’s really sweet optimism that I wish I could adopt anytime the Academy changes the rules this way or that. Suddenly it’s a deluge from cinephiles and average once every couple of month movie-goers alike of “Now maybe it’ll allow for better movies to get in (read: the movies that I like).” The bottom line is this. No amount of rule changing or behind the scenes scrambling is going to turn a film like We Need to Talk About Kevin or even (on the opposite end of the spectrum) The Hangover into a serious best picture contender. Short of a complete membership overhaul and/or overhaul of the school of thinking that makes the Academy watch or even think about the films that they do, that’s just not going to happen in either case. They will still make their strange, often banal choices that baffle many of us no matter what the rules. What makes following it so fun is the prestige we heap onto it, which is understandable. The Academy Awards have been around for the better part of a century and are viewed as the gold standard (no pun intended) in film awards. It’s fun to watch the patterns, even if they’re in our heads, and to observe the anomalies. For instance, I still like to think about just what the hell was going on with the Academy in 1996 when they awarded Best Actress to Frances McDormand–a great performance, one of the best this category’s ever seen, yet so NOT the type of performance Oscar usually crowns or even nominates. And call me crazy, but I firmly believe that timing, more than anything, played a crucial role in the Oscar race last year. Disagree with me, but I suspect that had Oscar ballots been due even a couple weeks later, The Social Network would have beaten The King’s Speech.

    The folly in predicting, from what I can see, is that many people try to transplant another year’s narrative onto the current year. Yes, there are always patterns to observe. And recent trends, at least before the guilds weighed in, would have favored a win for The Social Network over The King’s Speech. But what’s going on that year in film is always its own separate animal, with little kinks here and there that don’t allow it to really fit like a glove into what happened in any other year.

    This all being said (sorry about the length), I’m with Guy Lodge on this one. The movies the Academy nominates are always going to disappoint, be they too arthouse niche-y for your more conservative movie-goer, or too straight-down-the-middle for your movie-goer who makes his/her list of must-see films based on the Sundance lineup rather than by watching TV spots between acts on “Two and a Half Men.” That being the case, Academy, just stop apologizing for who you are and make the rules consistent, be it five or ten. Just show some confidence and make it about the movies that the collective “you” happen to like, even if they happen to be “bad” by one outsider’s standards or another.

  56. Just to chime in, probably needlessly at this point, on the A Serious Man discussion, I will say that I’m glad it was nominated for Best Picture. I remember really enjoying it at the time, but some two years later, I feel a lack of passion for it and have had no desire to revisit the film. My feelings aside, that the Academy dared to nominate a film that was so weird in its storytelling and structure (yes, I’ll even submit, weirder than Black Swan) is heartening. Was it probably just the Coen bros pedigree that got it in? Most likely. But anything that gets the Academy thinking outside the box is a good thing, I think. We have seen many examples of the Academy voting for great movies/performances for completely the wrong reasons (The Departed to finally give Scorsese his due, The Hurt Locker because they didn’t want to vote for Avatar, Charlize Theron because she made herself look ugly, etc, etc, etc.) It will never be a measured meritocracy where the right films are voted on because they’re the best. So if a good movie, or even an interesting movie, manages the hit all the right bullshit boxes, politically speaking, then I say it’s better than the alternative.

    I think it’s really sweet optimism that I wish I could adopt anytime the Academy changes the rules this way or that. Suddenly it’s a deluge from cinephiles and average once every couple of month movie-goers alike of “Now maybe it’ll allow for better movies to get in (read: the movies that I like).” The bottom line is this. No amount of rule changing or behind the scenes scrambling is going to turn a film like We Need to Talk About Kevin or even (on the opposite end of the spectrum) The Hangover into a serious best picture contender. Short of a complete membership overhaul and/or overhaul of the school of thinking that makes the Academy watch or even think about the films that they do, that’s just not going to happen in either case. They will still make their strange, often banal choices that baffle many of us no matter what the rules. What makes following it so fun is the prestige we heap onto it, which is understandable. The Academy Awards have been around for the better part of a century and are viewed as the gold standard (no pun intended) in film awards. It’s fun to watch the patterns, even if they’re in our heads, and to observe the anomalies. For instance, I still like to think about just what the hell was going on with the Academy in 1996 when they awarded Best Actress to Frances McDormand–a great performance, one of the best this category’s ever seen, yet so NOT the type of performance Oscar usually crowns or even nominates. And call me crazy, but I firmly believe that timing, more than anything, played a crucial role in the Oscar race last year. Disagree with me, but I suspect that had Oscar ballots been due even a couple weeks later, The Social Network would have beaten The King’s Speech.

    The folly in predicting, from what I can see, is that many people try to transplant another year’s narrative onto the current year. Yes, there are always patterns to observe. And recent trends, at least before the guilds weighed in, would have favored a win for The Social Network over The King’s Speech. But what’s going on that year in film is always its own separate animal, with little kinks here and there that don’t allow it to really fit like a glove into what happened in any other year.

    This all being said (sorry about the length), I’m with Guy Lodge on this one. The movies the Academy nominates are always going to disappoint, be they too arthouse niche-y for your more conservative movie-goer, or too straight-down-the-middle for your movie-goer who makes his/her list of must-see films based on the Sundance lineup rather than by watching TV spots between acts on “Two and a Half Men.” That being the case, Academy, just stop apologizing for who you are and make the rules consistent, be it five or ten. Just show some confidence and make it about the movies that the collective “you” happen to like, even if they happen to be “bad” by one outsider’s standards or another.

  57. julian the emperor

    Damien Bona obviously likes attention (just consider last years’ infamous and ill-judged anti-animation rant!), but in this case I kind of get his point: A Serious Man (even though it is a very good film, and not least an intelligent one!), it was obviously NOT a candidate for the win. The nomination itself was a consolation prize for a small scale movie from the most renowned director team in the business. No one, even its staunchest supporters, would ever have thought of A Serious Man as a contender for the big prize! When that is said, it is my opinion, though, that it is surely a great thing that such movies get a chance for awards recognition (and a field of 10 secures that, just think of Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and, not least, Winter’s Bone, last year)

  58. julian the emperor

    Damien Bona obviously likes attention (just consider last years’ infamous and ill-judged anti-animation rant!), but in this case I kind of get his point: A Serious Man (even though it is a very good film, and not least an intelligent one!), it was obviously NOT a candidate for the win. The nomination itself was a consolation prize for a small scale movie from the most renowned director team in the business. No one, even its staunchest supporters, would ever have thought of A Serious Man as a contender for the big prize! When that is said, it is my opinion, though, that it is surely a great thing that such movies get a chance for awards recognition (and a field of 10 secures that, just think of Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and, not least, Winter’s Bone, last year)

  59. I thought Frost/Nixon and A Serious Man were wonderful movies. Why the hate? The real travesty for me that year would be The Wrestler losing out on a screenplay nomination to that overrated piece of shit known as In Bruges.

    I don’t hate The Blind Side either, but it definitely should not have gotten a nomination over (500) Days of Summer, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or even Crazy Heart.

    No Country for Old Men is easily one of the best movies ever to win that Best Picture award.

    Since when was being “remembered” a prerequisite for a nomination? Just because it doesn’t get as much attention as other films from that year doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. No one is going to remember An Education, The Kids Are All Right, Frost/Nixon, and possibly Little Miss Sunshine, yet those are some of my all-time favorites that will definitely get better with age. So let’s leave “future influence” or whatever the hell you want to call it out of the question, thank you.

  60. I thought Frost/Nixon and A Serious Man were wonderful movies. Why the hate? The real travesty for me that year would be The Wrestler losing out on a screenplay nomination to that overrated piece of shit known as In Bruges.

    I don’t hate The Blind Side either, but it definitely should not have gotten a nomination over (500) Days of Summer, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or even Crazy Heart.

    No Country for Old Men is easily one of the best movies ever to win that Best Picture award.

    Since when was being “remembered” a prerequisite for a nomination? Just because it doesn’t get as much attention as other films from that year doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. No one is going to remember An Education, The Kids Are All Right, Frost/Nixon, and possibly Little Miss Sunshine, yet those are some of my all-time favorites that will definitely get better with age. So let’s leave “future influence” or whatever the hell you want to call it out of the question, thank you.

  61. @The Great Dane The real reason they chose The Hurt Locker over Avatar is because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t care about blue people! They’ll prove it again this year when they snub The Smurfs. Mark my words. *shakes fist*

    @Keiran S You’re absolutely right about the timing. That’s the worst part of it all. That a movie can catch a wave and ride it into a Best Picture win. I do believe that’s what happened last year. And I believe it happened with Slumdog as well.

    The other worst thing is when the Academy just votes and doesn’t watch. And we all know they do that. And we all know people vote for their friends sight unseen. So perhaps, with the #1 rule, we should look at which movies have the most “friends” more than in a normal year.

  62. @The Great Dane The real reason they chose The Hurt Locker over Avatar is because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t care about blue people! They’ll prove it again this year when they snub The Smurfs. Mark my words. *shakes fist*

    @Keiran S You’re absolutely right about the timing. That’s the worst part of it all. That a movie can catch a wave and ride it into a Best Picture win. I do believe that’s what happened last year. And I believe it happened with Slumdog as well.

    The other worst thing is when the Academy just votes and doesn’t watch. And we all know they do that. And we all know people vote for their friends sight unseen. So perhaps, with the #1 rule, we should look at which movies have the most “friends” more than in a normal year.

  63. Finally, somebody has the cajones to call A Serious Man for what it was: filler.

    Not related, but Philadelphia Film Festival announced its big-ticket movies that’ll be screened from 10/20-11/3:
    Opening Night Movie: Like Crazy (??); Closing Night: The Descendants.

    Others: My Week with Marilyn, The Artist, Butter, Jeff Who Lives at Home, I’m Carolyn Parker (documentary), Being Elmo. “Masters of Cinema” will include A Dangerous Method, Melancholia, The Sacrifice. Sports docs will feature The Real Rocky and Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears. Full lineup tomorrow.

  64. Finally, somebody has the cajones to call A Serious Man for what it was: filler.

    Not related, but Philadelphia Film Festival announced its big-ticket movies that’ll be screened from 10/20-11/3:
    Opening Night Movie: Like Crazy (??); Closing Night: The Descendants.

    Others: My Week with Marilyn, The Artist, Butter, Jeff Who Lives at Home, I’m Carolyn Parker (documentary), Being Elmo. “Masters of Cinema” will include A Dangerous Method, Melancholia, The Sacrifice. Sports docs will feature The Real Rocky and Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears. Full lineup tomorrow.

  65. So let’s leave “future influence” or whatever the hell you want to call it out of the question, thank you.

    I completely disagree with this idea. I mean I wish Academy members would take their votes more seriously for specifically this reason. I think the weight of naming a movie “Best Picture of 2011″ should be in the minds of members when they vote. Years from now someone is going to crack open a history book (they’re not gonna have books but you know what I mean) and look up 2011. They’re going to look back to that film as a representation, at the very least, of where film was in 2011. It’s a matter of history and posterity. It should represent what you want to say about that year. That’s why its themes or its actual plot should be somewhat timely. That doesn’t mean it necessary has to be about current events. But if you have a movie about hope and idealism, then perhaps that’s what we want the future to know about 2011. We were forward thinking then. Or maybe it’s a movie about technology taking over, or a down turning economy, or finding a voice or whatever. It shouldn’t just be ‘well I liked it, so it should win’. I do think added weight should be given to those films that say something about the time that they’re in, whether it’s a period piece or futuristic or alien. Again, that’s just my opinion.

  66. So let’s leave “future influence” or whatever the hell you want to call it out of the question, thank you.

    I completely disagree with this idea. I mean I wish Academy members would take their votes more seriously for specifically this reason. I think the weight of naming a movie “Best Picture of 2011″ should be in the minds of members when they vote. Years from now someone is going to crack open a history book (they’re not gonna have books but you know what I mean) and look up 2011. They’re going to look back to that film as a representation, at the very least, of where film was in 2011. It’s a matter of history and posterity. It should represent what you want to say about that year. That’s why its themes or its actual plot should be somewhat timely. That doesn’t mean it necessary has to be about current events. But if you have a movie about hope and idealism, then perhaps that’s what we want the future to know about 2011. We were forward thinking then. Or maybe it’s a movie about technology taking over, or a down turning economy, or finding a voice or whatever. It shouldn’t just be ‘well I liked it, so it should win’. I do think added weight should be given to those films that say something about the time that they’re in, whether it’s a period piece or futuristic or alien. Again, that’s just my opinion.

  67. GBalcanquel

    AMPAS used to award Best Cinematography Oscars for color and black and white, so why not Best Drama, Best Action, Best Comedy??? Stop comparing apples and oranges

  68. GBalcanquel

    AMPAS used to award Best Cinematography Oscars for color and black and white, so why not Best Drama, Best Action, Best Comedy??? Stop comparing apples and oranges

  69. I think this whole discussion is rather funny. Take 6 thousand people and get them altogether and show them ten films and I’ll guarantee you’ll get such a range of diversity of opinion and taste that would or could mirror the Academy voters when they submit their ballots. It’s like everyone is trying to make a freakin science of out something that isn’t a science. It’s personal taste or in some cases vested interests. I found A Serious Man boring and I enjoyed The Blind Side. I loved The Kings Speech and even though I respected The Social Network I thought the academy got it right. But even saying that I would have been happier if Inception had won. The simple fact is that the Academy is made up of such a diverse group of people coming from all types of backgrounds with very different personal tastes. So in the end you get the “that should be nominated” and you get “what the hell made them nominate that?”.

  70. I think this whole discussion is rather funny. Take 6 thousand people and get them altogether and show them ten films and I’ll guarantee you’ll get such a range of diversity of opinion and taste that would or could mirror the Academy voters when they submit their ballots. It’s like everyone is trying to make a freakin science of out something that isn’t a science. It’s personal taste or in some cases vested interests. I found A Serious Man boring and I enjoyed The Blind Side. I loved The Kings Speech and even though I respected The Social Network I thought the academy got it right. But even saying that I would have been happier if Inception had won. The simple fact is that the Academy is made up of such a diverse group of people coming from all types of backgrounds with very different personal tastes. So in the end you get the “that should be nominated” and you get “what the hell made them nominate that?”.

  71. John Oliver

    I am an Oscar purist also, the 10 nominee rule cheapened the nomination itself. Ask who were all the nominees the last 2 years, and probably no one could name them all. I know can understand baseball enthusiasts who hated the new playoff system when it came into being, because teams worked hard to win that pennant-it had meaning!

  72. John Oliver

    I am an Oscar purist also, the 10 nominee rule cheapened the nomination itself. Ask who were all the nominees the last 2 years, and probably no one could name them all. I know can understand baseball enthusiasts who hated the new playoff system when it came into being, because teams worked hard to win that pennant-it had meaning!

  73. it isnt just taste though, THE BLIND SIDE is truly bad, as bad as that Cuba gooding / ed harris flick, RADIO. All the others on the BP list I could make a case for, TBS was just bottom of the barrel pandering to the country music crowd

  74. it isnt just taste though, THE BLIND SIDE is truly bad, as bad as that Cuba gooding / ed harris flick, RADIO. All the others on the BP list I could make a case for, TBS was just bottom of the barrel pandering to the country music crowd

  75. Samuel,
    Ask Nzingha Stewart. Why does it take a Steven for “The Color Purple, a Wayne for The Joy Luck Club, a Bill for Dreamgirls (another precursor to this Acadmy rule-change game), a Forest for Waiting To Exhale, or a Herbert for Steel Magnolias? Sure these men have the passion and it shows, but are there no competent women willing to tell these stories? Again, ask Nzingha Stewart.

  76. Samuel,
    Ask Nzingha Stewart. Why does it take a Steven for “The Color Purple, a Wayne for The Joy Luck Club, a Bill for Dreamgirls (another precursor to this Acadmy rule-change game), a Forest for Waiting To Exhale, or a Herbert for Steel Magnolias? Sure these men have the passion and it shows, but are there no competent women willing to tell these stories? Again, ask Nzingha Stewart.

  77. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I could make a case for, TBS was just bottom of the barrel pandering to the country music crowd

    Why would 300 AMPAS members volunteer to throw away their vote on a movie they didn’t really like just to pander to a crowd that has no interest in great movies? What do those AMPAS members get out of it? Some deal where they get a cut from the Oscar broadcast ad revenue in exchange for trying to get more of Middle America to tune in?

    They don’t get together in secret meetings and plan strategies about who’s gonna vote for what in order to attract or offend the viewing audience.

    How do Academy members as individuals benefit or why would they care what the Oscar night TV ratings are?

    No, I could make a better case that 300 members of the Academy have the same bad taste as the “country music crowd.” (not even sure how this crowd is important to the Oscars).

    I could make a nicer case that 300 Academy members simply thought The Blind Side was the bees knees.

    The Oscars aren’t a plot to trick people into tuning in. They’re just a motley crew of 6000 people with wildly varying taste and erratic levels of sophistication.

  78. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    I could make a case for, TBS was just bottom of the barrel pandering to the country music crowd

    Why would 300 AMPAS members volunteer to throw away their vote on a movie they didn’t really like just to pander to a crowd that has no interest in great movies? What do those AMPAS members get out of it? Some deal where they get a cut from the Oscar broadcast ad revenue in exchange for trying to get more of Middle America to tune in?

    They don’t get together in secret meetings and plan strategies about who’s gonna vote for what in order to attract or offend the viewing audience.

    How do Academy members as individuals benefit or why would they care what the Oscar night TV ratings are?

    No, I could make a better case that 300 members of the Academy have the same bad taste as the “country music crowd.” (not even sure how this crowd is important to the Oscars).

    I could make a nicer case that 300 Academy members simply thought The Blind Side was the bees knees.

    The Oscars aren’t a plot to trick people into tuning in. They’re just a motley crew of 6000 people with wildly varying taste and erratic levels of sophistication.

  79. that’s true. Don’t a lot of them give them to their maids and family though? maybe those were the ones who voted for TBS

  80. that’s true. Don’t a lot of them give them to their maids and family though? maybe those were the ones who voted for TBS

  81. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    ^
    that’s undoubtedly true too, h.
    (also true that Hollywood people don’t all emerge from the sea in Malibu. They come from all over over the country, all sorts of middle class family backgrounds. You might be surprised to find how many AMPAS members didn’t go to college. But I wouldn’t be.)

    But you’re right in one sense. The Blind Side did pander to a certain segment of the population. But planning a strategy to appeal to Middle America was done by the writer who wrote it and studio exec that gave it the green light. It panders, yes, but the pandering took place long before the ballots were filled out. After that, it only needed to appeal to 5% of the AMPAS.

    And as true as it may be that maids, mistresses and family members do fill out some ballots — who’s to say that a nanny or mistress doesn’t have better taste in movies than some of the Academy members? There’s a lot of junk coming out of Hollywood. We can’t blame Hollywood’s maids for developing Adam Sandler movies. Nannies didn’t produce Transformers.

    No need to name names, but many AMPAS members have made a lot more movies we deplore than movies we admire.

  82. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    ^
    that’s undoubtedly true too, h.
    (also true that Hollywood people don’t all emerge from the sea in Malibu. They come from all over over the country, all sorts of middle class family backgrounds. You might be surprised to find how many AMPAS members didn’t go to college. But I wouldn’t be.)

    But you’re right in one sense. The Blind Side did pander to a certain segment of the population. But planning a strategy to appeal to Middle America was done by the writer who wrote it and studio exec that gave it the green light. It panders, yes, but the pandering took place long before the ballots were filled out. After that, it only needed to appeal to 5% of the AMPAS.

    And as true as it may be that maids, mistresses and family members do fill out some ballots — who’s to say that a nanny or mistress doesn’t have better taste in movies than some of the Academy members? There’s a lot of junk coming out of Hollywood. We can’t blame Hollywood’s maids for developing Adam Sandler movies. Nannies didn’t produce Transformers.

    No need to name names, but many AMPAS members have made a lot more movies we deplore than movies we admire.

  83. John: I can name the nominees of the past two years a hell of a lot easier than the 5 from ’06 or ’05. Do people actually remember Capote at all? Do people have any interest in watching that again?

  84. John: I can name the nominees of the past two years a hell of a lot easier than the 5 from ’06 or ’05. Do people actually remember Capote at all? Do people have any interest in watching that again?

  85. The construction of your first sentence is rather clunky. Do you proof read before posting? I could help you out if need be…

  86. The construction of your first sentence is rather clunky. Do you proof read before posting? I could help you out if need be…

  87. Bob Burns

    Of the 20 nominees the last two years, only one didn’t belong. From an awarding excellence viewpoint ten is working Ten BP nominees is working well. Of the 20 nominated the past two years, 19 were worthy of BP consideration.

    If you cut the last two years back to five, your would be taking away recognition for nine deserving films just to try to keep out TBS…. and Oscar has always let occasional stray films onto their lists, anyway.

    We’ve had ten BP worthy films a year for some time now – at least aince 2000. And the number of worthwhile films increases all the time. Serious well made films have become like. novels and porn…… so many of them they have become like litter. We may need to honor twenty a year at some point in the future.

  88. Bob Burns

    Of the 20 nominees the last two years, only one didn’t belong. From an awarding excellence viewpoint ten is working Ten BP nominees is working well. Of the 20 nominated the past two years, 19 were worthy of BP consideration.

    If you cut the last two years back to five, your would be taking away recognition for nine deserving films just to try to keep out TBS…. and Oscar has always let occasional stray films onto their lists, anyway.

    We’ve had ten BP worthy films a year for some time now – at least aince 2000. And the number of worthwhile films increases all the time. Serious well made films have become like. novels and porn…… so many of them they have become like litter. We may need to honor twenty a year at some point in the future.

  89. I do think i’ll like this new system with the whole 5% implication since it does make it more interesting (read: fun) to try and predict what with earn the required amount of votes and what won’t. However, if they do revert back to ten nominees anytime in the future they should seriously consider increasing the nominee count over in the directing category; if you’re in the best picture lineup but without a directing nod, is there any real point in being there since your chances of winning are close to nil?

    I’m also hoping the new system will allow some lesser known films to make the cut, which the application of ten slots was supposed to do. I’m excited to think that films many voters may feel passionate about, such as “The Tree of Life”, “Midnight in Paris”, or “The Artist”, have very strong chances of being nominees. In any other year I think these films would fall through the cracks and be replaced by more hollywood-ish productions.

    My predictions right now fall at right:
    War Horse
    The Descendants
    Midnight in Paris
    The Artist
    The Tree of Life
    The Help
    Moneyball

    Other possibilities: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Drive, Carnage, My Week With Marilyn, The Ides of March, The Iron Lady, Warrior, A Dangerous Method, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.

  90. I do think i’ll like this new system with the whole 5% implication since it does make it more interesting (read: fun) to try and predict what with earn the required amount of votes and what won’t. However, if they do revert back to ten nominees anytime in the future they should seriously consider increasing the nominee count over in the directing category; if you’re in the best picture lineup but without a directing nod, is there any real point in being there since your chances of winning are close to nil?

    I’m also hoping the new system will allow some lesser known films to make the cut, which the application of ten slots was supposed to do. I’m excited to think that films many voters may feel passionate about, such as “The Tree of Life”, “Midnight in Paris”, or “The Artist”, have very strong chances of being nominees. In any other year I think these films would fall through the cracks and be replaced by more hollywood-ish productions.

    My predictions right now fall at right:
    War Horse
    The Descendants
    Midnight in Paris
    The Artist
    The Tree of Life
    The Help
    Moneyball

    Other possibilities: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Drive, Carnage, My Week With Marilyn, The Ides of March, The Iron Lady, Warrior, A Dangerous Method, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.

  91. My predictions right now fall at *eight*. Apologies.

  92. My predictions right now fall at *eight*. Apologies.

  93. No need to name names, but many AMPAS members have made a lot more movies we deplore than movies we admire.

    That is probably the most honest and accurate statement in the whole argument. Look at resumes and you’ll find great actors and actresses career’s littered with embarrassment. Directors and Screenwriters probably cringe when they think about certain projects they worked on. Not every film produced is going to be an Avatar and not every film produced is going to be Zombie Madness.

  94. No need to name names, but many AMPAS members have made a lot more movies we deplore than movies we admire.

    That is probably the most honest and accurate statement in the whole argument. Look at resumes and you’ll find great actors and actresses career’s littered with embarrassment. Directors and Screenwriters probably cringe when they think about certain projects they worked on. Not every film produced is going to be an Avatar and not every film produced is going to be Zombie Madness.

  95. Tero Heikkinen

    A Serious Man is a masterpiece that was never going to win BP. Why? It’s a comedy. IMO it’s the third best Coen brothers picture (behind Fargo and Barton Fink), and a deserving nominee. It gets better with every viewing (seen it at least 10 times).

    Make a list of best comedies in recent years and you might find A Serious Man on there.

  96. Tero Heikkinen

    A Serious Man is a masterpiece that was never going to win BP. Why? It’s a comedy. IMO it’s the third best Coen brothers picture (behind Fargo and Barton Fink), and a deserving nominee. It gets better with every viewing (seen it at least 10 times).

    Make a list of best comedies in recent years and you might find A Serious Man on there.

  97. Regarding five percent and upthread question about ‘what if there are fewer than five that get five percent’, here are the official rules:

    There is no rule that states that Five Percent of first place votes is a cut off for eligibility. Rather, the rule states a film requires five percent of the total vote to be eligible for the BP nomination.

    No where in the official rules does it mention first place votes. Additionally, the Rules for nominations suggest there is no special tabulation of Best Picture nominees, all nominees are done by preferential ballot, as they have always been tabulated.

    BP Rule: http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule17.html
    “2. The pictures receiving the highest number of votes shall become the nominations for final voting for the Best Picture award. There may not be more than ten nor fewer than five nominations; however, no picture shall be nominated that receives less than five percent of the total votes cast.”

    Nomination rules:
    http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule05.html
    “5. In the nominations voting, the marking and tabulation of all ballots shall be according to the preferential or weighted average system. Votes for achievements in motion pictures not on the Reminder List will not be counted in the nominations balloting. Tabulation of final ballots shall be according to the plurality system. No “write-in” votes shall be counted on the final ballot.

    6. Not more than five nominations shall be made for each award, except for the Best Picture award, which shall have not more than ten nor fewer than five nominations.”

    Original Press Release announcing rule change:
    http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2011/20110614a.html
    “After much analysis by Academy officials, it was determined that 5 percent of first place votes should be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from 5 to 10 movies.”

  98. Regarding five percent and upthread question about ‘what if there are fewer than five that get five percent’, here are the official rules:

    There is no rule that states that Five Percent of first place votes is a cut off for eligibility. Rather, the rule states a film requires five percent of the total vote to be eligible for the BP nomination.

    No where in the official rules does it mention first place votes. Additionally, the Rules for nominations suggest there is no special tabulation of Best Picture nominees, all nominees are done by preferential ballot, as they have always been tabulated.

    BP Rule: http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule17.html
    “2. The pictures receiving the highest number of votes shall become the nominations for final voting for the Best Picture award. There may not be more than ten nor fewer than five nominations; however, no picture shall be nominated that receives less than five percent of the total votes cast.”

    Nomination rules:
    http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule05.html
    “5. In the nominations voting, the marking and tabulation of all ballots shall be according to the preferential or weighted average system. Votes for achievements in motion pictures not on the Reminder List will not be counted in the nominations balloting. Tabulation of final ballots shall be according to the plurality system. No “write-in” votes shall be counted on the final ballot.

    6. Not more than five nominations shall be made for each award, except for the Best Picture award, which shall have not more than ten nor fewer than five nominations.”

    Original Press Release announcing rule change:
    http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2011/20110614a.html
    “After much analysis by Academy officials, it was determined that 5 percent of first place votes should be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from 5 to 10 movies.”

  99. So you don’t have to have any #1s. Oh that’s a horse of a different color. So we should probably just predict ten and then if there are a few danglers that we think we’re just putting on to fill the ballot we can exclude them. Okay now I think I know what I’m doing.

    Thanks, adam. :)

  100. So you don’t have to have any #1s. Oh that’s a horse of a different color. So we should probably just predict ten and then if there are a few danglers that we think we’re just putting on to fill the ballot we can exclude them. Okay now I think I know what I’m doing.

    Thanks, adam. :)

  101. austin111

    A Serious Man needs absolutely no apologists. It’s a seriously great movie, just as The Great Lebowski in it’s time (which I initially misjudged as did more than a few others). The fact that it was/is not appreciated by all is a sort of stamp of it’s greatness. Films that are divisive are usually far more interesting than those that everyone fawns over.

  102. austin111

    A Serious Man needs absolutely no apologists. It’s a seriously great movie, just as The Great Lebowski in it’s time (which I initially misjudged as did more than a few others). The fact that it was/is not appreciated by all is a sort of stamp of it’s greatness. Films that are divisive are usually far more interesting than those that everyone fawns over.

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