Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Love in Excess: Oscar Expansion

Startling news for film fanatics. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that they're shaking up the formula for best picture nominees for the first time in 65+ years. Next year's telecast will feature not 5 nominees, but 10. While this was the way of all things in the early days of Hollywood, the last time the Academy served up 10 nominees was 1943.

Variety is reporting the decision springs from a desire to "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", a noble cause, but in the words of Sister Aloysius, I have doubts.

I'm the first one to complain about the Academy's near-constant recognition of films that register as the acceptable norm. They have a great track record when it comes to snubbing breakthrough films and the sorts of movies that manage to actually influence, add to, and shape cinema. That said, yes, i think opening up the Best Picture category a little bit is something that needs to be done and a move that has the potential to open up art films to a more mainstream audience. But is 10 too many? In a good year, no. In a bad year, definitely. Are we looking at a change in the actual judging process of the Academy, or just another way to boost ratings?

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