Academy president Sid Ganis says “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. 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.”
We have been long accustomed to a top 5 films competing for Oscar gold, but, as the Academy stated in today’s press release, “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.” For example, in 1934, the Academy nominated no less than 11 films for its top honor: It Happened One Night, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra, Flirtation Walk, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes the Navy, The House of Rothschild, Imitation of Life, One Night of Love, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!, and The White Parade.
“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.”
Ok Mr. Ganis, yes … but … gone with the wind are the 1930s and the studio system that produced such steady, solid, best-picture-worthy fare. I don’t’ know about anyone else, but these days I’d be a bit hard pressed to pick a whole ten that really merit a nomination. (Although I do hope this means Pixar will finally start getting the nods it deserves instead of being relegated to the animation category!)
Then again, this might end up being the sort of rejuvenating factor that the Academy has been so visibly scrambling for in its failing equation. Instead of thinking that remodeling the look of the awards presentation will help ratings and bolster interest (as last year’s much vaulted and much maligned show is evidence of) it appears that the Academy is doing more introspective house cleaning.
Now, if they announce that they’re axing some of the yawn-inducing special tech categories (do we really need two categories for sound?), banishing the musical numbers, revoking Ryan Seacrest’s red carpet privileges and forcing Academy members to actually watch the films they vote on, hey, then they’re on to something!