Updated thoughts: Now, with time to think about it, there’s a lot more to consider. Is this diluting the prestige of an Oscar nomination for Best Picture? How will this impact marketing budgets (congrats publications and publicists on this news)? And what about other Oscar categories? Namely, Best Director, which is the only other category directly mirrored with Best Picture. The race used to be: all five Best Picture nominees trying to match up with all five Best Director nominees. Now, you’re gonna have 10 directors trying to get five nominations harder than ever before.
Big news today, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced that the Oscars for this year will include 10 nominees for Best Picture, doubling the typical 5 nods. This is going to create a massive burst of awards activity, now that films just increased their odds for a Best Picture Oscar. This will surely be met with snarky comments, but I think it’s about time the Oscars shook things up with the nominations. From the announcement:
“After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said Academy president Sid Ganis. “The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner – but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009.”
For more than a decade during the Academy’s earlier years, the Best Picture category welcomed more than five films; for nine years there were 10 nominees. The 16th Academy Awards (1943) was the last year to include a field of that size; “Casablanca” was named Best Picture. (In 1931/32, there were eight nominees and in 1934 and 1935 there were 12 nominees.)
Currently, the Academy is presenting a bicoastal screening series showcasing the 10 Best Picture nominees of 1939, arguably one of Hollywood’s greatest film years. Best Picture nominees of that year include such diverse classics as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Stagecoach,” “The Wizard of Oz” and Best Picture winner “Gone with the Wind.”
“Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” commented Ganis. “I can’t wait to see what that list of ten looks like when the nominees are announced in February.”
Start your engines.