Well, if you’re just turning on your computer you might be interested in this little piece of information—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced today that they’re going to up the number of Best Picture nominees (beginning in 2009) from five to ten, and this has unleashed a largely negative response from film fans and buffs, chiefly revolving around the burning question: “Where in the hell are they going to come up with ten nominees?”
This move by the Academy—considered radical by many—isn’t entirely unprecedented. Back in 1932, they recognized eight nominees for the top prize, and then added two more for those flicks honored in 1933-34. Ten films was the standard, Oscar-wise, until 1945 when they reverted back to five and only five. Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings rightly points out that in those years, it was possible to find ten movies to be nominated and still leave a worthy candidate or two out of the running.
“Uncle” Samuel Wilson doesn’t completely dismiss this innovation, remarking “If the list becomes less ‘elitist’ than it supposedly is already, I tremble at the prospect.” (Unk was one of many who felt The Dark Knight got the Bat-shaft by being left off of the Best Picture nominations list last year.) Ed Copeland’s take on the news is a bit subdued at his blog (though I dearly love his observation: “While we’re at it, let’s start lobbying for the return of the Artistic Quality of Production category now”) but over on Facebook he wasn’t afraid to pull out a shiv and wisecrack: “I can’t wait for the FYC campaign for Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” (To be honest, Ed's post title--"They have a hard time coming up with 5 some years"--is something I will take a small exception to...in light of the reams of paper and millions of electrons expended so that critics can piss and moan after the nominees are announced: "They left [title] off the list...and [title]...and what about [title]?")
Those of you who read Thrilling Days of Yesteryear and still manage to maintain friendships know that I’m a bit of a sourpuss when it comes to this whole Academy Award business; I’ve always maintained that since the inception of the Oscars they continue—with a few exceptions—to get it wrong each and every year since. So I really don’t have a dog in this fight—I consider the Oscars to be little more than gratuitous back-patting (I’ve always loved Warren Beatty’s remarks at the 1976 ceremony: “We want to thank all of you for watching us congratulate ourselves tonight”) and any increase in the number of nominated films isn’t going to change the status of the Oscar telecasts from being an indeterminably long dog-and-pony show. (Dissenting views are, as always, welcome in the comments section—and remember…no spamming, please.)