Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Should the Oscars Go Back to Five Nominees?

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) posted an article this morning citing that there is a significant fraction of the Academy that wants to take the Best Picture category back to just five nominees, as opposed to every year since the 2009 ceremony where there was anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees (this past year had 8).  Personally, I'm all for this.  I once thought the move from 5 to possibly 10 nominees was a cool idea that would lead to more blockbusters getting nominated for Best Picture, but all it has done is get more arthouse films nominated that not many have seen, as opposed to movies just about everyone has seen and, for the most part, loves (i.e. any Marvel movie of the past few years).  The source who talked to THR claim that they think the added number of nominees cheapen the prestige of the award, and seeing as how the additional nominees have not yielded more box office hits getting nominated (therefore making the Oscarcast ratings higher), many in the Academy just don't see the benefit, especially after this year's show, which featured the lowest ratings in years.  I mean, the reasonings are fairly pretentious in truth.  Gregory Ellwood did a good rant on HitFix this morning that kind of railed against the notion that it's made the Best Picture category any less pretentious, in some ways, he concluded, it's made it even more prestigious by nominating more lesser seen movies.

The bottom line is, I think if the Academy is not going to nominate more movies that people have seen, the expanded field of Best Picture nominees will never really yield the results that the Academy initially had in instituting it (to make sure that The Dark Knight snub from 2009 never happened again and to boost ratings).  Five nominees is how it was for the majority of my life, and it makes it a lot more manageable for Oscar watchers like me to see all of the movies before the show.  I mean, we don't all get DVD screeners of the movies campaigning for Oscar back in December like all Academy members do.  Also, I think five nominees requires much more genuine thought on the behalf of the Academy, thus making it more competitive and more exciting.  They have to think about what they're nominating and really decide if they think it's Best Picture material.  Not only that, the studios have to campaign all that much harder to nab a nomination because it's not a field that has nearly double the chances.  One complaint in recent years is that the Academy has become too predictable with their choices, and I'll say this, there were more monkey wrenches thrown into the system back when they had only five nominees (anyone remember Crash's surprise win).

All in all, this is still just talk.  Nothing has been decided, it's just an issue that certain bigwig Academy members are going to bring up at the next governor's meeting in March, to assess the good and the bad of this past year's Academy Awards.  Will the Academy go back to five nominees?  Possibly.  Does it really matter at the end of the day?  Not really, because while I am for the move back to five, I also realize that even with five nominees, there are usually only two or three films that are actually real threats (and sometimes even less than that).  Perhaps the Academy will change the rules yet again, but until it's official, this is just talk and nothing else.

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