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The State of the Race: Will Best Picture Ever Be More or Less Than Nine?

As we head into another Oscar year we are once again faced with nine Best Picture nominees. We all know it will be nine because ever since the Academy changed their rules from Best Picture from five to ten and then from ten to an arbitrary number between 5 and 9 it has been nine – for three consecutive years.

That’s because there are so many good movies every year vying for the Best Picture race that they stuff in as many as possible, often the ones with more passionate support ruling the day. But first, a little history.

Back in the early days of Oscar they had not yet introduced the solid five categories for Best Picture, Best Director, etc. There were often many more in these categories. There was a brief period of time when there were a solid ten Best Picture nominees – 1937 through 1944. Going My Way, in 1945, was the first film to win with five nominees. Five nominees would rule all the way up to 2008, after The Dark Knight failed to earn a Best Picture nomination.

In 2008, the Academy was slammed by fans and critics for failing to nominate the Dark Knight and putting in The Reader instead. Typical Academy move, given their history, but one that really seemed to finally crack open the heavy door of history. In order to evolve a bit, they decided to expand their nominees to a solid ten. Members would now have ten slots for their favorite films of the year. It’s easy call to imagine putting in five of your typical Academy movies, but then perhaps having the freedom to include films you might not ordinarily include on such a limited ballot.

Having a solid ten did more than that, it turns out. It included films like The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone, District 9 and Inception. These films might have struggled to get in with only five slots on the nomination ballot.

2009 (82nd)
The Hurt Locker (PGA, DGA)
Avatar (PGA, DGA)
Inglourious Basterds (PGA, DGA)
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire** (PGA, DGA)
District 9 (PGA)
An Education** (PGA)
Up (PGA)
Up in the Air (PGA)
The Blind Side**
A Serious Man
______________________________________
Star Trek  (PGA)
Invictus (PGA)

2010 (83rd)
The King’s Speech (PGA, DGA)
Black Swan**(PGA, DGA)
The Fighter (PGA, DGA)
Inception (PGA, DGA)
The Social Network (PGA, DGA)
The Kids Are All Right**
Toy Story 3 (PGA)
True Grit (PGA)
Winter’s Bone** (PGA)
127 Hours (PGA)
______________________________________
The Town (PGA)

**films with females as the protagonist

But members began complaining that ten was too many. They wanted to only put down five, as they’d been doing for 65 years or so. The members got their wish because in 2011, the Academy once again changed things up, as they explained in their press release:

With the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers, we’ve been looking not just at what happened over the past two years, but at what would have happened if we had been selecting 10 nominees for the past 10 years,” explained Academy President Tom Sherak, who noted that it was retiring Academy Executive Director Bruce Davis who recommended the change, first to Sherak and incoming CEO Dawn Hudson and then to the governors.

During the period studied, the average percentage of first place votes received by the top vote-getting movie was 20.5. 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.

“In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies,” said Davis. “A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.”

If this system had been in effect from 2001 to 2008 (before the expansion to a slate of 10), there would have been years that yielded 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominees.

The final round of voting for Best Picture will continue to employ the preferential system, regardless of the number of nominees, to ensure that the winning picture has the endorsement of more than half of the voters.

When they changed from 5 to a random number, however, the results have always been a solid 9, which begs the question, why did they bother changing from ten in the first place? What happened when they changed their policy this most recent time they effectively removed what made having an expanding slate good in the first place – the opportunity to include films that would not ordinarily be included.

Though it is a hard concept to grasp, when voters have only five choices for Best Picture they default to sentimental, passionate pics and often omit films that could be thought of as genre pictures, for instance. We saw this the year Dragon Tattoo was up for the Best Picture Oscar. It would have gotten in, most likely, with ten.

Now, what you see is the maximum amount of nominees allowed under the current system but choices that still reflect the Academy’s overall taste. Diversity is mostly absent, and certainly, any opportunity for genre films.

What we’re looking at this year is once again, I believe, nine nominees. I guess my question is, why not leave it to a solid ten? We also have to ask, is there any sort of problem at all? Are the best movies still being represented? Are there so many good movies aimed at the Oscar race now because they have nowhere else to go that these slates represent an embarrassment of riches anyway?

What you are less likely to see now:
–Animated films nominated for Best Picture
–Films with women in the lead or directed by women
–Genre movies

Why? Because voters are only putting down five on their ballots. Think of any grown man who would confidently put an animated film on their top five, for instance. With ten slots that would be an easier choice. But with five?

2011 (84th) – 9
The Artist (PGA, DGA)
The Descendants (PGA, DGA)
Midnight in Paris (PGA, DGA)
The Help** (PGA)
Hugo (PGA)
Moneyball (PGA)
War Horse (PGA)
The Tree of Life
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
______________________________________
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo** (PGA, DGA)
Bridesmaids (PGA)
The Ides of March (PGA)

2012 (85th) – 9
Argo (PGA, DGA)
Les Misérables (PGA, DGA)
Life of Pi (PGA, DGA)
Lincoln (PGA, DGA)
Zero Dark Thirty** (PGA, DGA)
Django Unchained (PGA)
Beasts of the Southern Wild** (PGA)
Silver Linings Playbook (PGA)
Amour
___________________________________________
Skyfall (PGA)
Moonrise Kingdom (PGA)

2013 (86th) – 9
12 Years a Slave (PGA, DGA)
American Hustle (PGA, DGA)
Captain Phillips (PGA, DGA)
Gravity** (PGA, DGA)
The Wolf of Wall Street (PGA, DGA)
Nebraska (PGA)
Dallas Buyers Club (PGA)
Her (PGA)
Philomena**
___________________________________________
Blue Jasmine** (PGA)
Saving Mr. Banks** (PGA)

**films with females as the protagonist

+The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo holds two records. The first, it remains the only film since the Academy expanded their slate from five to either ten or the new random number to earn both the PGA and DGA and not get a Best Picture nomination.  It was also the first film since 1968 (46 years) to win Best Editing without winning any other Oscars and without having a Best Picture nomination. 

In conclusion, what I think will happen this year is that nine will be nominated again. The slate for Best Picture is already looking promising, with several movies popping up in Cannes already and with Telluride waiting around the corner.

Also, according to people like Steve Pond at The Wrap, it is very nearly impossible to ever have ten again. It is an impossibility.  The way the Academy tested the past by using the preferential system to get a random number between 5 and 9 simply doesn’t apply when you have hungry publicists and strategists competing for the top prize.

The Academy would probably do better simply to admit defeat and change it back to ten.  Or else go back to five.  Whether five is better than nine isn’t a question I can answer.  I believe we are living in a time when the Oscar race is the only end goal for films aimed at adults, or independent films.  Hollywood seems to relying more and more on the tentpole paradigm, and films aimed at the international audiences, namely China and India.  The Oscars, though, still provide a safe haven for films that exist purely for art’s sake. All the better if the Oscar race can earn these films more at the box office to keep this industry thriving.

Still, sooner or later they’re going to have to accept that disproportionate number of effects-driven films, either with its own category (like Best Effects Driven films) or a radical change of preferences to include these films.

Best Films with Zero Oscar Nominations

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40 Comments

  1. m1
    June 16, 2014

    I’m pretty sure True Grit and Amour also had females as protagonists.

  2. Christophe
    June 16, 2014

    Saving Mr. Banks got torpedoed by Meryl Streep! That’s unfortunately all there is to it, and it would probably have swept the Oscars if it had been given the chance, but Meryl Streep vetoed it. Meryl decides, Hollywood abides…

  3. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    I am for having fewer Best Picture nominees. I think 5 – 7 is just about right. Looking back since they expanded the Best Picture field, I say if we “chew the fat”, here’s a meatier Best Picture lineup. I left off Up and Toy Story 3 because to me, animated features should stick with their own award, which they have already now. I left off Amour, since it won the Oscar for Foreign Language Film.

    2009
    Avatar (2009) – James Cameron
    District 9 (2009) – Neill Blomkamp
    The Hurt Locker (2009) – Kathryn Bigelow
    Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Quentin Tarantino
    Precious (2009) – Lee Daniels
    Up in the Air (2009) – Jason Reitman

    2010
    127 Hours (2010) – Danny Boyle
    Black Swan (2010) – Darren Aronofsky
    Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan
    The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Lisa Cholodenko
    The King’s Speech (2010) – Tom Hooper
    The Social Network (2010) – David Fincher
    True Grit (2010) – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

    2011
    The Artist (2011) – Michel Hazanavicius
    The Descendants (2011) – Alexander Payne
    The Help (2011) – Tate Taylor
    Hugo (2011) – Martin Scorsese
    Midnight in Paris (2011) – Woody Allen
    Moneyball (2011) – Bennett Miller
    War Horse (2011) – Steven Spielberg

    2012
    Argo (2012) – Ben Affleck
    Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – Benh Zeitlin
    Django Unchained (2012) – Quentin Tarantino
    Life of Pi (2012) – Ang Lee
    Lincoln (2012) – Steven Spielberg
    Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – David O. Russell
    Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Kathryn Bigelow

    2013
    12 Years a Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen
    American Hustle (2013) – David O. Russell
    Captain Phillips (2013) – Paul Greengrass
    Gravity (2013) – Alfonso Cuarón
    Her (2013) – Spike Jonze
    Nebraska (2013) – Alexander Payne
    The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Martin Scorsese

  4. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    Now, if you’re right Sasha, and we end up with 9 movies again for Best Picture, I’m playing the guessing game, and I have only my gut and insticts to predict these 9. I could be very wrong.

    2014
    Big Eyes (2014) – Tim Burton
    Birdman (2014) – Alejandro González Iñárritu
    Foxcatcher (2014) – Bennett Miller
    Gone Girl (2014) – David Fincher
    Inherent Vice (2014) – Paul Thomas Anderson
    Interstellar (2014) – Christopher Nolan
    Into the Woods (2014) – Rob Marshall
    A Most Violent Year (2014) – J.C. Chandor
    Unbroken (2014) – Angelina Jolie

  5. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    But, I lastly want to add, I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel last night, and that one I am rooting for a Best Picture nomination. It was so good! What does Wes Anderson have to do to finally get a BP nom? (Make a movie of the phone book??!)

  6. Richard Banton
    June 16, 2014

    Christophe, I really hope your Streep rant is a joke bc she made her speech on like the last day of voting and became a topic of discussion for 5 minutes. Get over it.

  7. murtaza
    June 16, 2014

    Should go back to five, this is insane, even if they nominate 10 pictures they still fail to nominate the worthy and good ones. What the fuck was Academy up to when it went on to nominate Extremely Loud, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, War Horse and The Descendants. Awful.

  8. UBourgeois
    June 16, 2014

    I’d definitely say that Inglourious Basterds, True Grit, and Amour had female protagonists, especially if you’re counting TGWTDT in that category. Rooney Mara isn’t even the main character of her own film, whereas Hailee Steinfeld is, Emmanuelle Riva has a very evenly split billing, and Melanie Laurent is the primary focus of something like half of Basterds.

    I also wouldn’t say that a smaller slate necessitates a weaker representation of female-led films – that would be pretty hard given how low representation is already. Like look at 2010: If we include True Grit, that’s four female-led films out of ten. If 2010 was a year of five, what would have been nominated? The King’s Speech, of course, and almost certainly The Social Network with it. After that would most likely be The Fighter, judging by its two acting wins, and then… probably Black Swan and True Grit. So we went from 4/10 to 2/5, maintaining the proportion exactly.

    But even in general, I think you’re over-representing the importance of the tenth spot in particular. Do you really think that, say, Up would have lost its spot in 2009, or Toy Story 3 would have in 2010, were there only nine spots? Up surely would have beat out A Serious Man, District 9, or The Blind Side, and Toy Story 3 could have edged out 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, or Winter’s Bone. The only reason we haven’t seen animated films get BP nominations since then is the fact that no animated film in the past few years has carried the sheer clout that Up or Toy Story 3 did. Frozen was close, was it was neither as good nor as widely loved as those two.

  9. David Lindsey
    June 16, 2014

    We should go back to five. How many of the best pic nominees even won awards this year? Only four. Where was the Passion for AMERICAN HUSTLE, WOLF OF WALL STREET, PHILOMENA, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, and NEBRASKA? Don’t get me wrong! Some of those films I loved, and was personally very happy to see them nominated. To what end does nominating these films accomplish if there is no room for them on awards night. To dilute the honor of being nominated for best picture? I think not.

  10. June 16, 2014

    It’s absolutely possible for there to be 10 nominees under the current system despite what mathematical superstitions people like Steve Pond try to pawn off as fact.

    It’s mathematically possible so it’s positively possible in practice.

    But I really wish the Academy would go back to a fixed number. It’s a pathetic reflection on the film industry’s opinion of itself when they produce 600 movies a year and can only think of 9 that they like.

    It’s the Academy saying this:

    “We try to make great movies but for all the hundreds of times we try we only ever succeed in making a worthwhile movie 8 or 9 times a year. Sorry but that’s how much we suck! Sorry you spent your money on the hundreds of pieces of shit we spent millions of dollars making and cramming down your throats, dumbass audiences, but when we look back over the results of work of thousands of filmmakers every year, each of our individual Academy members can barely think of 5 movies they give a shit about. But please keep buying tickets to all the bullshit we churn out every week because you never know when we might make something worth watching. (Not that WE ever Watch the shit we make, but we really love it when YOU do. You pay for our mansions and cosmetic surgery and mostly vulgar lifestyles, so thanks!) P.S. Is Inside Llewyn Davis any good? Wouldn’t know. Didn’t see it.”

    Whenever we only get 9 nominees it’s an indictment of lazyass Academy members who can’t be bothered to explore the wide range of wonderful movies that are not being spoonfed to them by the PR machine.

    It’s now becomes an annual embarrassment to the Academy that they have so much trouble naming 10 movies they deem as decent candidates.

    But that’s not the fault of the all the great films being made and ignored. It’s just a reflection of the ignorance of any Oscar voter who claim they can’t think of more than 5 movies they saw and liked. It exposes those Oscar voters as incurious, unenlightened, unmotivated and irresponsible.

  11. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    Ryan, I agree with you on that they should go back to a set number of either 5 or 10. It’s much less insulting that way.

    But, (in speaking to all), a while back I made a comment about how I think if a film wants to be considered for Best Picture, they should have to register their film in a “consideration” list. I think most of the films released every year have no wants or expectations of getting nominated for Best Picture. I think the list of films that would register would actually be quite short. Probably only about 20 films or so. But, I also say this, that just because a film doesn’t register itself for “contention”, doesn’t mean their giving up on trying to get people to see their film. It just means they know their film isn’t the “Best Picture type”.

    Take this year as an example:
    Would register for contention: The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Would not register for contention: RoboCop

    AND then, the Oscars change to where if a film is registered for “contention”, the AMPAS voters are required to see it.

  12. Jonny
    June 16, 2014

    If getting a nomination helps films that are not action films with their box office I’m all for it. Even if they win nothing , the nomination is advertising.

  13. June 16, 2014

    But, (in speaking to all), a while back I made a comment about how I think if a film wants to be considered for Best Picture, they should have to register their film in a “consideration” list.

    That’s done though. There’s a list of “eligible films” that numbers between 250 and 300 titles every year. Obviously there are not 300 movies worthy of a Best Picture nomination but the filmmakers in various branches who worked on all those movies are surely usually proud of their work and like to know that their effort is on the list for consideration in various categories.

    Also, there’s no way to prevent Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood or David O Russell from saying every turd they manufacture is golden, worthy of a Best Picture nomination. I hate to make broad generalizations but it’s often the filmmakers with the most rickety and erratically fluctuating careers who have the most inflated egos about the movies they make.

    You can’t trust Hollywood as a whole to designate which movies are worth watching anymore than you can trust them to know a great movie when they see it.

    Likewise, requiring AMPAS voters to see every movie on a list isn’t feasible. No matter whether that list is 5 titles or 50.

    Even if you had an armed AMPAS security force who would go around Santa Barbara apprehending all the truant Oscar voters, rounding them up, herding them through checkpoints where there names could be ticked off for attending mandatory screenings, it would be aggravating to all the hundreds of conscientious, diligent and willing Oscar voters when the ushers roamed the theater squirting cold water in the faces of all the voters who were dosing off.

  14. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    Ah, right. I guess I knew that about the considerations list, but I see so many movies that wouldn’t stand any chance with any of the categories. For instance (and not to intentionally pick on any film), but Hotel for Dogs, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, etc. etc. These movies don’t need to be considered.

    But again, yeah, I see what you mean. But it’s also like you guys have talked about before on the Oscar Podcasts, where it would also be nice if the Best Picture nominations would change a little from the Golden Globes to the Directors Guild Awards, to the BAFTA’s, etc. They don’t always have to pick the same 5 or 6 over and over again.

  15. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    “Also, there’s no way to prevent Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood from saying every turd they manufacture is golden, worthy of a Best Picture nomination.”

    Ha ha ha. So true! Especially Clint.

  16. ricardo
    June 16, 2014

    I dont understand why do people blame The reader for “taking away” the nomination to TDK. The reader was in Baftas and GG -I believe it wasnt at PGA- and TDK actually didnt win awards for best pic in critics circle it all went to Ledger

  17. June 16, 2014

    Frost/Nixon took the place The Dark Knight should have owned.

    Frost/Nixon was one of those movies that got a seat at the BP table the instant it was announced, months before it premiered, even before a single frame of film was shot.

    Perfect example of “Oh it’s Ron Howard!” + famous-sounding play + ‘serious historical subject’ + hoopla = all the lube you need to slide a lumpy rubbery dildo into the BP PR race.

  18. Aaron B
    June 16, 2014

    I thought “Frost/Nixon” was great. And either way I think it all balanced out, because “Rush” was pretty robbed this year. That was a very good movie.

    Clearly it’s not feasible to require members to see all eligible films, but I DO think it would be interesting to require them to see all Best Picture NOMINEES. I mean, regardless of what one feels about the Oscars they’re voting on something that has real weight to it and will go down in history. I think anyone who takes their position as a voter seriously should be able to spare 20-30 hours to vote from a pool of 5-10 nominees. Heck, even push the awards presentation back even further if you have to. That would give the moviegoing audience more time to catch up at the very least.

    I really think a big reason why Best Foreign Film was so interesting every year is because voters were actually required to see them all. Sometimes it turns out the majority really does prefer the underdog when they’re actually made to watch it. Would “The Lives of Others” have won had that rule not been in place?

  19. June 16, 2014

    I think anyone who takes their position as a voter seriously should be able to spare 20-30 hours to vote from a pool of 5-10 nominees.

    That describes maybe 80% of Oscar voters, max.

    How about this. You can’t force an Academy member to see all the nominees, but if they don’t then their Academy membership is revoked. They don’t get a ballot that year.

    (and ideally Oscar voters shouldn’t simply be required to watch all 10 BP nominees, but even before the nominations they should see at least 25 or 30 movies per year. I mean, you know what would be awesome? If Oscar voters didn’t wait for December every year to know on their own what movies they need to watch without waiting for publicists and Oscar shepherds to tell them.)

  20. tintin
    June 16, 2014

    “Five nominees would rule all the way up to 2008, after The Dark Knight failed to earn a Best Picture nomination.”

    And WALL-E?????!!!! The best picture of the year.

  21. Richard Banton
    June 16, 2014

    I fail to see how only nominating 9 films is an indictment of the Academy’s laziness. It’s math. While I’m not saying 10 is not possible, the way votes are apportioned, it just usually turns out that way. Based on what I know, it seems the best films in the lineup take away votes from what would be the 10th nominee. I prefer this system or the 5 only system to the mandated 10.

  22. Aaron B
    June 16, 2014

    @Ryan

    Sure, that’s fair. People are sometimes incredibly busy and legitimately would not have the time so I’m not saying there should be any sort of severe punishment, just suggesting that we would probably have more interesting choices if they treated Best Picture the way they used to treat Best Foreign Film.

    I also agree a requirement of having seen 25+ movies for the year would be awesome, but is obviously far more difficult to enforce.

  23. June 16, 2014

    I fail to see how only nominating 9 films is an indictment of the Academy’s laziness. It’s math.

    It’s math based on a formula that only requires each voter to name FIVE movies. Everybody names 5 movies and the accountants filter for the 8 or 9 that pass an ARBITRARY threshold.” This threshold can absolutely be reached by 5,6,7,8,9 or 10 films.

    It means nothing for Steve Pond to say there have been 9 nominees for 3 years in a row. That’s like saying: “We haven’t had a Leap Year for 3 years so obviously that means we will never have another Leap Year, ever again.”

    (Why not just pick the top 10 vote-getters from of ALL the movies named by voters? Here’s why. Because apparently the Board of Governors was embarrassed that this #10 movie sometimes turned out to be The Blind Side or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It revealed too clearly that there are a certain percentage of Oscar voters who have fairly shitty taste).

    It was widely reported and backed up by actual quotes from actual Academy members that one of the main reasons for switching to this new formula for the past 3 years was because of the huge intellectual burden it placed on voters to fill out all 10 slots on a 10-slot BP ballot. Voters were saying they couldn’t think of more than 5 movies they liked.

    That’s where the lazy comes in. Thanks for asking so I could clarify this inherent laziness for anybody else who doubts it.

  24. John
    June 16, 2014

    I also believe that Frost/Nixon took TDKs 5th spot. The Reader had Bafta, GG, and Kate heat. Frost/Nixon had no “heat” to my memory.

    I also wonder if TDK amd Wall-E were 6th and 7th. Imwo der what else that year coud have also been 6th or 7th (Changeling? Rev. Road?)

  25. June 16, 2014

    I also agree a requirement of having seen 25+ movies for the year would be awesome, but is obviously far more difficult to enforce.

    Vote Hillary Clinton/Elizabeth Warren 2016.
    If you can’t afford to see 25 movies per year then you get a gov’t subsidy to assist with your ticket purchases.

    I do fear this though: If the only Oscar voters who got a ballot were those voters who could prove they saw 25 movies, then we’d end up with a lot of busy filmmakers with active careers denied the opportunity to vote :( , and then every year the Oscars would be “Best Picture according to Ed Asner and Carol Channing.” (and Asner would be boycotting all the provocative movies).

    (oh… Aaron B, I wasn’t disagreeing with you. Just bouncing off what you wrote with my own spin. I do agree with you. Your suggestion would make the voting results more interesting if some workable variation could be implemented.)

  26. Winston
    June 16, 2014

    Anyone else think that 2011 was the weakest year in recent memory? I mean THE ARTIST as Best Picture?! Puhleaseeeee…. I wish the Academy went with THE DESCENDENTS that year.

  27. Al Robinson
    June 16, 2014

    Winston,

    You’re not alone in your thinking. I completely agree. I think Best Picture should have gone to The Descendants as well. But, I keep wondering how they didn’t nominate The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or even Drive.

  28. Joseph
    June 16, 2014

    The voting process has to change again. Voters should pick more than 5 nominees that they really liked. That’s when you’ll get Winter’s Bone, Serious Man, etc. (The 10 nominee years)

    Just pick five – but we’ll nominate more than five – you’ll just get more Oscar bait. War Horse, Extremely Loud.

    I bet movies like Bridesmaids and Skyfall would have been nominated if voters were allowed to nominate more than five in that year. (10 nominee method)

  29. June 16, 2014

    There will be 9 nominees and they will be the 9 that you Oscar pundits tell them to nominate. You might as well just doing it now and get it over with. The Oscars are turning into canned laughter.

  30. Rob Y
    June 16, 2014

    I don’t know how Steve Pond can say it’s a mathematical impossibility, when . . . well . . . it IS mathematically possible. (He probably means “improbable.”)

    Out simulated ballot for 2012 had 10 nominees. There’s an example to disprove his assertion. QED

  31. June 16, 2014

    Just lock it at 10 again. 2009 and 2010 were both much better lineups than 2011 (Tree of Life aside) and 2012 (Django aside). 2013 was a bounce back, but I’m hoping they just fix it at 10 for this year.

  32. June 17, 2014

    I think the unsure number of nominees is PLAIN stupid. Members of the Academy should be allowed to list up to 10 films they think deserve to be nominated. Why?

    Because it’s just impossible for someone to believe that a person only thinks that there are 5 deserving films for Best Picture, if he actually does his job as an Academy member to watch films. There are simply too many films to choose from, and members should be given the freedom to choose – if they think only 5 are deserving, then so be it. If for him, 10 are deserving, then let it be.

    Pure Academy’s laziness. Bring it back to 10.

    My guesses as the 10th BP nominee:

    2011 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (alt. Drive)
    2012 – Moonrise Kingdom (alt. Skyfall)
    2013 – Blue Jasmine (alt. Inside Llewyn Davis)

  33. Bob Burns
    June 17, 2014

    not a five fan. any given year their are ten or so films deserving of a BP nod and 9-10 gets most of em…. 5 is random.

    I do not think effects films should be stuck into a ghetto…. I want better effects films. Better dialog. LotR won because it had beautiful language and meaningful action. If there had been an effects film category, RotK would not have won BP.

  34. Robert A.
    June 17, 2014

    I also wish more Academy voters would watch more movies, but I doubt things are going to change on that front. That’s why I’m glad there are sites like AD, The Film Experience, In Contention and so on…written by people who love film and know film and can alert the Academy’s attention to films they should give a second look to. I’m a fiction writer and submit a lot of stories around to magazines and literary journals, and I know that most editors of these magazines almost never read all the stories submitted to them. They have readers that go through the submission piles and pull out the wheat (or what they consider to be the wheat) and say, “This one is worth you taking a look at.” Mostly the editors just read the stories that have been selected by their readers for consideration, and then choose the stories that will be published from that pile.

    So we have people like Sasha, Ryan, Nat, Kris, Guy, Anne T and most critics as the “preliminary readers” for the Academy. Most AMPAS choices will be made from the movies they highlight or pass on for further consideration. Will AMPAS still nominate some turds just because of pedigree or a glossy ad campaign? Sure. But that also happens in the literary world–an author with name recognition gets a spot in the toniest magazine even if his/her story doesn’t always merit inclusion.

    And finally, to all posters who think The Descendents should have won BP in 2011: stop! My eyes, my eyes! Actually, I know it’s become fashionable to think of 2011 as a “weak year,” and I guess you can make that argument if you’re only looking at the movies nominated for Best Picture. But it was a pretty strong year when you look outside the traditional BP Oscar box: A Separation, Melancholia, Drive, The Tree of Life (the only one of the four that did get a BP nomination).

  35. Q Mark
    June 17, 2014

    Slumdog was a great movie and a worthy winner, but beyond that, 2008 was a lame Best Picture field.

    * Milk was a pretty standard historical biopic, disappointingly so given how fascinating a person Harvey Milk was. Penn’s performance carried this one over the BP finish line.
    * Frost/Nixon was another standard historical biopic, with very good lead performances and not much else.
    * Benjamin Button was one of the worst nominees in recent memory.
    * I feel like I enjoyed The Reader a lot more than most, especially since rather than feeling it was the weak link of 2008, I’d actually say it was the second-best of the nominees. Then again, that’s pretty faint praise since this film was nothing special either.

    My ideal 2008 Best Picture field would’ve been Slumdog Millionaire, Dark Knight, Wrestler, Happy-Go-Lucky and Wall*E. That’s miles ahead of what we got in real life.

  36. keifer
    June 17, 2014

    I am one of those who believe AMPAS needs to go back to five Best Picture nominees.

    Frost/Nixon, in my opinion, was purely standard-fare cinema. Nothing “great” about this movie. I almost walked out I was so bored.
    Langella’s performance was the only reason to see it (which is the only reason I saw it). He was good; the movie not so.

  37. Scott
    June 17, 2014

    Of all the snubs in all of Oscar history I think it’s fair to say The Dark Knight’s is the one with the biggest impact. Personally I love the movie (as do so many here), but it’s not just about it’s merits, it really became the symbol of the online cinema community having enough of Oscar and his dusty choices year after year.

    Ironic that a genre movie about the significance of symbolism in a bleak world would be the film to influence the Academy so greatly.

  38. keifer
    June 17, 2014

    Scott,

    “Ironic that a genre movie about the significance of symbolism in a bleak world would be the film to influence the Academy so greatly.”

    Well put, Scott. Your observation reminded me of another AMPAS-ignored film from the ’80s much in the same vein as you mentioned, Terry Gilliam’s science fiction masterpiece “Brazil”. It is perhaps the best film of that decade, not only of 1985.

  39. A.J
    June 18, 2014

    There really hasn’t been an animated film since they made the variable number of nominees that deserved a Best Picture nomination.

  40. Al Robinson
    June 18, 2014

    A.J., I feel this might be the year, since The LEGO Movie was absolutely amazing!. :-)

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