It is still surprising to me that so many see the ten best picture nominees change as a negative. In any given year, there are at least twenty “best pictures.” Ten of them is better than five. Five never does justice to a year and, in fact, rewards the best campaigns and the “Oscar” movies, now becoming more and more marginalized and obscure. The only way I see the change as a negative is in terms of the way Oscar predictions work. In that way, chances are, it’s going to be all over the map. But who really cares about that? In the final analysis, we look at the films chosen in any given year and most of the time conclude that, in fact, the Academy has chosen not the best five in any way, shape or form. This change makes it possible to recognize a wider range, and a much more interesting range, of films.
I disagree strongly with the notion that a wider net means that it is only in place to boost ratings (they obviously don’t care about that) and I disagree that it will amount to mainstream, less worthy (but more audience-friendly) fare. When it comes down to it they are still choosing the ten best. Best means best, whether it is in the Oscar genre or not. This is a way for the Academy to mature and evolve, and thank god they have the good sense to do that. The other option is digging their heels in to prove they’ve been right all along (it’s the pictures that got small). A new world of media means a new Academy; a new audience could mean that we are not honoring “Oscar movies,” but great films, plain and simply.
David Carr in the NY Times:
Let‚Äôs be honest: Some Americans have tuned out the Oscars not because ‚ÄúThe Dark Knight‚Äù didn‚Äôt get a nomination, but because the telecast is jammed with obscure awards that they have no say over ‚Äî this isn‚Äôt ‚ÄúAmerican Idol‚Äù ‚Äî and no rooting interest in. What the Oscars need is fewer awards, not more nominees. As long as we are doing the math, does the academy really need three awards for short films and two separate awards for sound?
If the academy is serious about making a broadcast that will thrive for years to come, Oscar needs a haircut.
And so at the end of the day, I think the case is plainly made that a 10-nominee structure for the Best Picture category waters down not only the meaning of the award, but the thrill of hunting it and, perhaps most unfortunately, the payoff of being in the mix.