Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Best Pictures? Reactions and the Star Trek / Up Situation

Like presumably many of you I talked to a lot of people today about the new Oscar rule which will bring us 10 Best Picture nominees instead of 5. Reaction seems to be divided between "yes! it'll be more inclusive and exciting" and "yikes. it'll still suck only now it will signify less".
Take this Academy voter from the member at large branch reacting to the news today (I trust the source who asked and then conveyed her response):
I personally like it when it’s more open to people. That’s going to be terrific. But the only problem is that they should increase the nominees of Best Actor and Best Actress only to make it fairer
Yikes. She wants more nominees elsewhere, too? How will we be able to make fun of the Globe and BFCA excesses if AMPAS does the same thing? And if the Academy keeps adding won't it turn into the EMMYs with so many categories that winning them seems an inevitability if you just keep at it and work the right type of series movies.

Another Academy member (from the technical branches) that I contacted myself was not at all pleased. He said:
These days it is difficult to find 5 films, much less 10, that are worthy of an Academy nomination. A cynical person might deduce that having 10 nominations is the only way the studios can garner a few nominations. Don't we already have the People's Choice Awards?
My line of thought falls closer to this more cynical thought. Box office has always been its own reward. Why are people always so adamant that blockbusters need statues too? I agree that they sometimes deserve them but I also believe with all my heart that the only reason that people are so adamant that they deserve so many and so angry at their annual snubs is that these are the films that have been seen. It's not necessarily because they're the best. It's because they're available to have opinions about. If you expand anyone's film viewing to include not just the 10 biggest hits of the year, chances are you expand the idiosyncracies as to what each person considers "best". I don't think the problem with the Oscars has been their love for smaller movies. The problem is their (collective) general lack of imagination in what constitutes quality. Quality can be found anywhere: small movies, big movies, medium sized movies and within any genre. Choosing a good subject for a movie can give you a leg up towards quality but subject matter and tone (seriousness) ≠ Quality.

Star Trek is not a contender. There's at least 20 more typically Oscar
viable features on the way. Up on the other hand probably is.

I bring all this up because I'm a little bewildered as to why people think this will mean a great deal of popcorn in the Best Picture field. Take E! Online mentioning Star Trek (2009) (and The Hangover as Best Picture possibilities. Sid Ganis didn't announce 100 nominees for Best Picture, he announced 10. Comedies and light sci-fi are still not going to be towards the top of Oscar's wish list. Why would they start loving genres they've never loved if they double their nominees? If you double your nominees you might see one or two universally acclaimed hits nominated along with December's limited releases that were greenlit with gold statuary in mind but those popcorn pictures will still have to feel prestigious in some way to make the cut. Therefore, Star Trek is out. It's from a franchise that has been around for 40 years. It's silly and fun. Up is also silly and fun but it's got that undeniably moving opening and a resonant contemporary theme and Pixar itself IS a prestige element. So Up is probably in.

My killjoy point is this: don't get your hopes up for the blockbusters. No matter how many websites start becoming convinced that The Hangover and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be competing on March 7th for the industry's top prize, they won't. Mostly the expanded competitive field will just mean more slots for the type of movies Oscar likes to nominate i.e. serious dramas, message movies, period pieces, war films and films that smell of prestige in some way (lauded source material, famous auteurs, you know the type). Look at what the NBR and the BFCA put in their top ten lists whilst hoping to predict the Oscars. Yes, occassionally a blockbuster or "fun" movie will pop up in there but it's still the anomaly. They announced a doubling of the nomination slots, not a transfusion of their own tastes.

P.S. I'll be updating my Oscar predictions Sunday since we clearly all need to rethink this year's competition.
*

54 comments:

NoNo said...

I concur.

Bing147 said...

As often as not, the movies that just miss are every bit as worthy if not more worthy than the films that get in. That's why the lone director film is often considered better than 3 or 4 of the nominees by critics and fans. The movies that tend to come in as runner ups? They're sometimes just more Oscar bait but they're also often art house films, foreign films, documentaries, films that have a lot of love from those who do love them but don't have the universal appeal to crack a top 5. They might have enough to crack a top 10. And once they're nominated, a lot of those who didn't even consider them before will watch them. Don't be shocked if one of those films once in awhile, even without say a director nomination, comes out of nowhere and wins the thing. An 8th to 1st kind of thing. It could happen.

And also keep in mind, this changes the entire game and not just for best picture. Films that typically wouldn't even bother to do any major campaigning will have more incentive to make a big push which even if they don't get in, could get them help in other categories. This year, The White Ribbon jumps out at me. In a top 5, of course it'd have no prayer and they're likely be no ads or anything. But its going to get amazing reviews, (it already has in its current capacity), its going to be on a lot of critics top 10 lists, it'll probably make some awards and its going to get a lot of love. Now with 10 chances, maybe the studio says, okay, lets do some campaigning, still not likely but we have a shot. It still probably doesn't make it into picture but that extra push might help it sneak into screenplay, or an acting category. Last year, I think for example I've Loved You So Long is a good example of that, it probably would have made a harder push. Would it have made a 10 list? Not likely. But they'd have definitely fought harder. And that might have been enough to push Kristen Scott Thomas into the actress field. Or looking further out, enough to push Elsa Zylberstein, who for a time had a major dark horse buzz which seemingly evaporated into thin air, into an extremely weak best supporting actress field.

Just things to think about.

NATHANIEL R said...

bing you have a point but then on the other hand these campaigns cost a lot of money and the little films sometimes can't afford to do much.

Glenn Dunks said...

As I wrote in the other entry:

In regards to this year I think it definitely helps Avatar (sci-fi), Bright Star (women-y), Precious (black), Shutter Island (horror) and Up (animated) don't you think?

Slot them alongside titles like Public Enemies (even if it is flawed like many say it now has a better shot), The Lovely Bones, Nine, An Education and Invictus as more traditional and obvious nominees.

Nate said...

It may help out more little films that were released earlier in the year like Sugar and The Hurt Locker. To be honest we don't know what this means. Should we pay more attention to The Box and Public Enemies or The Hurt Locker and Sugar. I guess we'll see.


I seriously don't see Star Trek or Drag Me To Hell getting noms. Up I can see.

adam k. said...

I'm of two minds on this. But after my initial cynical reading that this is all to make it easier for films to get attention and thus easier to sell themselves, and my mind being blown by how this does indeed change the WHOLE oscar game and take a lot of suspense out of the top category (boooo), I've come around to thinking this could be good in a number of ways.

1) Yes, this means disappointing wannabe prestige pics like Dreamigirls, Cold Mountain, Memoirs of a Geisha, Doubt etc. will get a free pass, BUT it also means a lot of great films will now get in instead of barely missing. Remember Thelma & Louise? Silkwood? Not to mention WALL*E and The Dark Knight. They'd all have made it. Plus, more than likely, Far From Heaven, Eternal Sunshine, A History Violence and maybe even stuff like Talk to Her. That is very cool.

Plus, this very year, the field immediately opens up to allow a lot of fun-looking genre and/or "strange" atypical films to compete. Suddenly, Precious, Up, Avatar, and a host of others all become legitimate contenders not just for a nomination, but for a possible win. Fun!

2) Director and Picture are no longer the same thing. That will be refreshing. Although now Best Director may become the most coveted and prestigious category, no?

3) Predicting best pic winners becomes much harder, and more interesting. I wouldn't be surprised now if Up actually won best picture this year. Or Avatar. In 2005, Crash probably would have lost if the anti-Brokeback, "middledrow" vote could have been spread among more contenders.

I'm kind of excited about this. Although it's also kind of distressing and random in a way that makes the whole oscar watching parade seem even more ridiculous. Like, what's the point? They can just throw out the rules and start it over at any time.

adam k. said...

I think, though, that the biggest deal with this news is that a best picture nod will no longer mean much. Basically, if you're an acclaimed and talked-about film in your year, you get in. Which might just make it boring. Like, I could probably name 8 of the 10 right now. No suspense. Yawn.

So yeah, like I said... two minds.

RJ said...

My fear is that we're just going to get 5 more Benjamin Buttons in the lineup

Nate said...

But there are a lot of acclaimed and talked about films at the end of the year. I'd say at least 20-25.
2008 was just a weak year. I don't think I liked any of the Best Pic Nominees.They expanded to ten not twenty.

Glenn Dunks said...

Indeed, unless something dramatic happens I reckon I could already name at least 8 of the would be nominees.

alice_the_goon said...

I hate this. It makes the award lose its exclusivity. It will slowly become less prestigous to recieve a Best Pic nom. Also, it makes me mad to think that someother movie (Up) will steal Beauty and the Beasts title of only animated film to get nommed! It isn't fair! Beauty had to work for that slot! Up is just gonna slide in thanks to the rule change! I hate this!

NicksFlickPicks said...

I don't think the Lone Director nominees automatically get a free pass into the top ten. Black Hawk Down and Billy Elliot almost surely, but there's no way the general membership would have sprung for Mulholland Drive, and even stuff like Vera Drake and United 93 might well have been reaches, given other "consensus" alternatives that existed in those years.

I also don't think that any rule change is ever going to make any Oscar except Best Picture "the most prestigious prize," even if Best Director looks even artier by comparison in some years, or temporarily makes for a more "exclusive" club. I bet more people know who won Best Picture in 1936 and 1942 than who won Best Director, and the nominated directors from those years (Sam Wood for Kings Row over Orson Welles for Ambersons?) should be a precaution against inflating the "prestige" of a Director field even if it's narrower than Best Picture.

I made this off-the-cuff table to show myself what I think a ten-wide field would have looked like in each of the last ten years. I'm sure not everyone would make the same conjectures I did (feel free to comment here if you want to haggle about this or that guess), but the resounding point to me was: some of these fields looked subtly stronger, some subtly weaker, and some about the same. Sometimes there were gaping loopholes for foreign films, arty experiments, sleepers, blockbusters, or animated films to sneak in, and some years it would have just been a bunch more Chocolats, or a combo of both. IT ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE YEAR. Even without shifting Academy tastes or studio campaign strategies or release schedules all that much, you can see how the door would get a little wider each year but not that much wider. I think it's a little silly of us to assume in advance what this change "necessarily" means for years to come... but in general, it would make for more discussion, and even more intricate guessing games. I was totally fine with this decision already, but this sells me even more. It won't redeem the Oscar into any more credibility than it currently manages, but it hardly travesties anything, either. It's just more to talk about and more implicitly approving exposure for more films, which is kind of the point anyway, right?

Brian said...

It's still going to be about first-place vote totals, right? I think this shake-up means just about anything can happen, at least this year. We don't actually know what the #5-10 slots were the past 65 years, do we? Mulholland Dr. could have had a large enough slice of fans to be in there (even if it's pretty certain that its detractors within the Academy must have outnumbered them). So might have well-done blockbusters with strong techie support like Iron Man.

Even if films like those (not that there really are "films like Mulholland Dr.) weren't close to making the cut in the past, The ranked choice system is supposed to encourage people to vote with their hearts. But with a limited number of slots on each voter's ballot and a pretty good guess as to what's a possible contender and what's not, I bet some voters still would have been more likely to pick their favorite of the baity contenders than their heart's desire longshot. At least this first year of the 10-nom slate in generations, nobody really knows what the upshot of this change will be, so there's even less reason to hold back from voting for a seemingly un-Oscar-y favorite.

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more. Quality, not quantity, Academy! Five slots are more than enough, especially if you cut out rubbish oscar vehicles, to insert all the necessary films.

Also concur with cynical academy member. 2008 was an especially dull year - everyone complained about Slumdog sweeping the spots but would they have been happier had Milk, Frost/Nixon, Curious Case, or the Reader won instead?

Glenn Dunks said...

Nick, Gran Torino would have been a best picture nominee without any other nominations. That's crazy and another reason to remind people that the top tens from years past were not all like 1939. There are some true dogs that got nominated.

Iggy said...

I think this might a good idea if other two things happen at the same time.

A.- If this means that the BP nomination opens to other type of movies, specially foreign ones. A category much more wide and varied (countries, genres, animated or not) and so tightly squeezed into the ridiculous Foreign Language Film category that is even embarrassing.

B.- If voting is split into two different times of the year. A first round of voting for movies release until the middle of the year (now?) and a second round to vote for those pictures opening from June to December. The nominees would be only known at the end of the year anyway, but it would open the way to smaller films released at the beginning of the year.

(I'm trying to keep my pessimistic side for myself).

PS. Sorry if I repeat what others said before, but the other post has way too many comments to catch up.

NATHANIEL R said...

Iggy you're right that A is the best option. but i don't think B will ever happen. It's been suggested for as long as I've followed the Oscar race but i think Hollywood likes chasing the money too much to consider ways of delaying their gratification and as long as they think that Oscar campaigns and Oscar nods tie into box office dollars we'll have that December problem.

but i applaud you for trying to stay optimistic. You're better at it than me ;)

i'm still totally certain that the nominees will be 80% sept-dec. All we have to do is look at the BFCA and NBR lists and even sometimes the AFI list to know that people are still going to vote for what they've just seen.

jess said...

NINE
AVATAR
INVICTUS
SHUTTER ISLAND
PRECIOUS
UP
BRIGHT STAR
THE LOVELY BONES
AN EDUCATION
THE HURT LOCKER

People look no further, these are the 10 nominees come February '10

Arkaan said...

This change shakes up the oscar race. That is a good thing.

This change likely will allow for more crap to get nominated. That is a bad thing.

The occasional difficult/off the beaten track movie that does get nominated has a better shot at getting a solid release/people checking it out in theatres. That is a good thing.

Agent69 said...

I agree, but I would love to see Trek nominated.
Wait, how many Trekkies are there in the Academy? You know Tom Hanks and Eddie Murphy will have Star Trek on their ballot, lol.

NATHANIEL R said...

jess my my. 100% confidence in June??? surely you jest.

adelutza said...

The only explanation I find for the outrage I felt yesterday about this news is the surprise factor and the thing that, like death and taxes, Oscars are always going to be there. As they are now.
But I will take it as an experiment for this year and we'll see if it'll stand for next one.
In any case, it will give a boost to everything Oscar as people will relentlessly talk about this from now on.

Robert said...

Can't find 10 good movies? Okay well last year was considered by many (including me) to be a bad year. But anonymous AMPAS member could have picked from the following to fill those last 5 slots.

WALL-E
Synecdoche, New York (I know lots of hate, but I love)
Burn After Reading (same)
Chop Shop
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler
Happy-Go-Lucky
A Christmas Tale
Let the Right One In
I've Loved You So Long
The Dark Knight
Waltz With Bashir
In Bruge
The Class
Hunger
Flight of the Red Balloon

Now I totally understand that most of these movies getting nominated is a pipe-dream. But I'm offended by the thought that there aren't 10 good movies in any given year. If you cant find 10 good movies in a year, you're not watching the right movies.

Robert said...

Just a thought about timing. If this change had been made a year ago, we'd be thrilled. After 2007 we were all convinced that AMPAS had seen the light and would start nominating good movies.

NATHANIEL R said...

i don't know if we'd be thrilled but 2007 sure was dreamy. Not my top 5 but that's the only recent best picture shortlist where every movie was a goodie...

Hmmm, maybe 2007 woulda still been good?
MICHAEL CLAYTON, ATONEMENT, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, JUNO (all actual nominees) and then... INTO THE WILD, DIVING BELL AND BUTTERFLY, HAIRSPRAY, SWEENEY TODD and (sigh) AMERICAN GANGSTER.

but maybe something would have shock/surprised like 3:10 TO YUMA or AWAY FROM HER or THE KITE RUNNER.

i still say ZODIAC would've gotten the shaft. sad. the voting members of the Academy who like critical darlings (like THERE WILL BE BLOOD and NO COUNTRY) are the same ones you'd need to get a movie like ZODIAC nominated. But there's only so many of that type of voter.

brianmaru said...

I think whatever films have the best scripts will get in now. Think of pictures like Talk to Her, Eternal Sunshine, Almost Famous. Those all won best screenplay but missed out on Best Picture noms. I think now those will get in.

Not that the best screenplay winners are the best of the year but I find it's often a category that is a bit more representative of the quality than, say, Best Actor.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I don't see why it's especially a problem that a movie get onto the Best Picture list without scoring anywhere else. It's a bit bizarre, sure, but if there's a movie everyone likes without any division quite thinking it's a gleaming avatar of their particular craft... There were great movies like Grand Hotel (which won!) and Libeled Lady that qualified this way in the early days. That they didn't get more noms seems more of the "fault" of the other branches than an inherent problem with them being up for Best Picture.

You could virtually say the same thing about, say, The Conversation in 1974: the question isn't "Why is this up for Best Picture??" but "Why the f*ck is it only up for two other awards?" Or things like Four Weddings... and Field of Dreams, depending on your tastes. It's already not a rational process.

Bailey said...

I think the fact that movies have to "campaign" for Oscars says all there is that is needed to know about the legitimacy of how these awards are handed out. A large cadre of mostly clueless industry "insiders" voting willy-nilly through the patchwork of movies they have and haven't seen, influenced most by the large studio pictures who have millions of dollars to take out ads in goddamn Variety. Yeah, how "artistic." I love the Oscars, and always watch them, but I never take them seriously. They've destroyed whatever tiny shred of credibility they had (*cough*cough*CRASH*cough*cough), and this desperate attempt at rejuvenation really probably isn't going to fool anyone in practice. Fail.

Kurtis O said...

Fine analysis, as usual. I read the news at work and blurted out, "Oh my God!"

When I revealed to my non-Oscar-geek colleagues the cause of excitement, there was a collective "Oh," followed by crickets. Cue my inner monologue: "Come on, people! This is an EARTH-SHAKING announcement! 'Oh,' is the best you've got?!?"

I'm pretty torn on the subject. I feel it instantly devalues the title of Best Picture nominee, and yet, I'm extremely pumped to see what makes the cut. If they go the mainstream route, and if it remains the most beloved blockbuster (which it will since "Transformers" is a mammoth disaster), "Star Trek" actually seems semi-plausible. "The Hangover" theory, however, is an absurd one. A good but overrated comedy, it'll have to settle for MTV's shiniest tub of golden popcorn.

Yancey said...

I'm excited for the change. I'm not expecting a complete tastes transplant for the Academy, and no one should. It's their award to do with as they please, and what I wish for them to do is just that, my wishes alone. But I'm going to give this a shot and them the benefit of the doubt just to see what they come up with. Given this new challenge, they might actually surprise us. I'm not expecting "Star Trek" or "The Hangover" no matter how awesome it would be if both were nominated. But a mix of the usual Oscar-bait, maybe one blockbuster ("Up", which will kill two birds with one stone being animated too), some indies, and maybe a "seriocomedy" if we're lucky (like maybe "500 Days of Summer" or "Away We Go") is more likely. That's not that bad to me. If they populate the list with completely unimaginative fare from top to bottom, then yeah, they deserve scorn (if "Up" can't make it in now for example, expect the floodgates to open up wide in the media over that snub). But anything's possible now. What if they found a way to nod "The White Ribbon"? Or "Broken Embraces"? Or "Avatar"? There's some real potential here, so I'm going to give this change a go for at least this one year.

Ana said...

Hopefully this change means we'll be getting plenty of "What if...?" retrospective posts here ;)

BillBill said...

I'm looking at these theoretical top ten lists that people are making up, and is it just me, or could "Up" actually win BP outright? I mean, it'll only take 10.1% of the vote to win now (crazy, but true) versus 20.1% from before. If you're fixated on "Up" not being able to do this "legitimately" with just five BP nominees, then they'll be nothing to appease you, but in my book, a best picture win is a best picture win no matter how it got there. There isn't an asterisk by "Gone With the Wind"'s BP win, or "Casablanca"'s. And if voters wanted to make a statement about the rules change this year, that could be a strong, concillatory message to send by recognizing both a critical and commercial smash hit, and also atone for their past misses (re: "The Dark Knight"). Whether they do it or not is another story, but that's an exciting thought for me at least.

Anonymous said...

I love how many people are already pushing Avatar so hard. I have never understood why people think movies they haven't seen and aren't aren't even finished or out yet are "locks" for awards like Oscar. It's James Cameron, peeps. How many of you were onboard with Titanic in 1997? Ok.

Yancey said...

I'm not "pushing" for anything. I just said that "Avatar"'s a possibility now, and that could be a cool nominee if it went all the way. And of course it would need to be worthy of the recognition.

For the BP "Up" win to happen though, it would really need Pete Docter and Bob Peterson nominated in director to legitimize it, and that's really unchartered territory for the Academy. I wonder if they'd ever do that.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean you specifically Yancey. Avatar has been on everyone's list it seems, which is why I commented. I just think it's strange since no one's even the seen the movie...because it is strange. Sorry if I offended you.

Un Francais a Hollywood said...

Nat, I disagree with you. So far, with 5 nominees, academy members would only do what they felt was right in their heart. With 10, they have enough slots for their favorites, and might very well start to fill the remaining ones with what people "expect", just to make sure the academy gets some credit. Everyone has some self-esteem, especially an academy member.

Besides, what they'll read this week in the papers and blog could influence the decision of members, who wouldn't know what to do if they had to decide themselves.

Anyway we'll soon see.

DJ said...

The lady wants 10 in the acting categories?!? To make it "fairer"?!?! That's just utterly ridiculous. To be in one of the top 5 spots is in honor, and it should be exclusive... not inclusive. Goodness, what is this all coming to?

Ron B. said...

Another change could be in the works of pruning out some (or all) of the tech categories from the the main broadcast. Sid Ganis is leaving with a bang it seems.

DJ said...

[i[Another change could be in the works of pruning out some (or all) of the tech categories from the the main broadcast.[/i]

Whhhattt? Oh my, if they do that I will never forgive them. Who cares about the # of viewers - it should be quality not quantity. And their are many quality viewers (ehem) whose whole lives are based around Oscar night. Grr.

JWK said...

Animated films, Foreign films, and Documentaries should not be eligible for Best Picture, since they have their own categories.

Sawyer said...

In 2007, I think instead of Hairspray or American Gangster, you would have seen Pixar's first nom (Ratatouille) and given the love it was shown in the tech noms, The Bourne Ultimatum, honoring the last part of the trilogy.

Rick said...

I have very mixed emotions on this one.. I just hope the word BEST doesn't become diluted....

Kate said...

A day later, I still have very negative feelings.

I'm bothered by the change being the end result of a studio lobby. Yes, I know that the film industry is a business, fueled by dollars ... but at the same time, the whole point of the Oscars is to award the best artistic achievement. At the core, the Oscars are not supposed to be about the best marketing campaign, the best fan base, the best word of mouth - it's the best film. By the very nature of receiving the "best" award, the Oscars are a selective process. Remember that "it's a honor to be nominated" campaign a few years ago, after the uproar of "Crash" winning best picture? Has that honor of simply receiving a nomination been devalued by doubling the size of the field? I'd argue it has been.

Maybe the rule change will allow for more risktaking, more inventive films to be nominated, and away from all the usual Oscar-baity films out there.

Or maybe it will permit a larger glut of "Benjamin Buttons" - superficially pretty, wholly shallow films.

But all the "what ifs" and retrospectives in the world don't change that devalues the very idea of the nomination process. The end result, to me, never justifies the means to get there.

brianmaru said...

Here's a thought. Will the 10 nominees make the winner more likely to be the middle of the pack, easy pick or less likely?

Ms. Berkowitz said...

people keep on saying how being a nominee wont mean much anymore, which is true, but can you imagine how much greater the winner will be? What ever film wins will get so much attention for beating out 9 other hopefully great movies. I hope UP doesn't get nominated. Just because they put adult things into a animation movie doesn't mean its great. The fact that its animation people think its great and more deserving than a non-animation movie. just because its a kids movie that isn't really just a kids movie doesn't mean it can compete with grown-up movies. Animation doesn't make it more impressive. I found UP a okay movie but not great at all. WALL-E was better anyhow. If a animation movie was to be nominated for best picture and/or win UP should not be the first to do it, definatly not good enough to go up in history as the first of its kind to win best picture.

John T said...

While I think this is a terrible idea, and it has grown more and more terrible as I reconsider it, here's my guesses of who would have also been "Best Pictures from the last five years

2008
Doubt
WALL-E
The Dark Knight
Gran Torino
The Wrestler

All-in-all, I think this probably a better list than the one they actually came up with, and they would have had a better assortment. That said, I think the winner would have remained the same.

2007
Into the Wild
Sweeney Todd
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
American Gangster
The Kite Runner?

See, adding these films severely destroys the beautifully symbiotic (and classy) nature of the 2007 Top 5. And none of them would have had a shot at winning.

2006
Dreamgirls
Pan's Labyrinth
Flags of Our Fathers
United 93
The Children of Men?

Okay, including that last one probably would have saved the Academy some massive headaches, and largely, this is a better list than the one they came up with, but it also includes Eastwood's worst of the decade. And the winner remains the same.

2005
Walk the Line
The Constant Gardener
Cinderella Man
Match Point
Memoirs of a Geisha?

Again, some solid inclusions (Match, Constant), but they are severely overshadowed by the now forgotten Cinderella and Memoirs. The only bright point would be that Woody's renaissance, Cinderella's appeal to the senior set, and the actor-centric Walk the Line might have taken enough votes away from Crash to give the trophy to Brokeback (the only time I think ten nominations would have produced a different winner in the last five years).

2004
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Vera Drake
Kinsey
Eternal Sunshine?

Again, you have to separate the wheat (Incredibles, Vera, Eternal) and the chaff (Hotel). I don't think this would have changed anything from the year of Clint, however.

Marsha Mason said...

One thing at least, I think predictions will (evidently) be more fun, at least for the first year. I mean, we won't really know until the announcement what crazy sh*t might come down that top ten roll.

NATHANIEL R said...

John T... these ten pictures list fill me with dread even with the one or two great choices each year.

I wonder you put Memoirs of a Geisha as a question mark in 2005 though. THAT WOULD DEFINITELY HAVE BEEN NOMINATED. I mean, it's a terrible movie but the Academy definitely liked it.

Marsha i agree. this year might be more fun... at least the circus surrounding it.

i just worry about the hangover that will be oscar nomination morning. I guess what i'm most worried about is that all of those December prestige hopefuls that make lists like the NBR and the BFCA (in the assumption that Oscar will like them... even if Oscar ends up not quite loving them) won't really have to prove themselves anymore. They'll just be automatic nominees because the prestige hopefuls always have a base of support no matter how bad they are (last samurai/memoirs/etcetera) because they're "Oscar films" and because people generally vote for what is the common wisdom as "these films are 'important' awards films"

vince said...

Nate smacks-down the asshats ... get again.

NATHANIEL R said...

huh?

i confused

Brian said...

brianmaru, interesting question. Decades ago the makeup of the Academy was different enough that it's probably not appropriate to compare, but I can't resist looking to the first year the Best Picture field expanded to 10 nominees: 1932/33. Of ten nominees, I've seen 7 so far. I consider five of them masterpieces (State Fair, 42nd Street) or near-masterpieces (I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Lady For a Day, a Farewell to Arms). But what won? Cavalcade, one of the weakest nominees of that year, and one of the weakest winners of all time. I'm not the arbiter of taste, but I get the sense that most who have seen as many or more of the nominees from that year than I generally agree that Cavalcade was far from deserving.

Glenn Dunks said...

One thing I fear especially out of this is that the small indie movie will never be able to win anymore. There won't be any more "little film that could" since, most likely, at least one or two others will be in the mix to siphon off votes while the 200lbs gorilla still apes its way to best picture

Yonatan said...

There's a reason it was decided to keep it at five Best Picture nominees 60 years ago.

One can only hope (/wish) we'll get the chance to say: "It must have been #11 on the list!"

It's supposed to be hard to decide which five movies deserve to be called the best of the year. Coming up with, say, seven decent movies and having to look for three more is a horrible notion.

Shouldn't his decision be effective from next year? It will affect future release dates.

I don't like it when foreign language films are nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, because it means they won't win Best Picture but will win Best Foreign Language Film (Life Is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Z); Up will be nominated for Best Picture, but no animated movie will win with the Best Animated Feature category.

There will still be a top contender for Best Picture, and perhaps 2-3 frontrunners.
There will be at least one movie that will be nominated only for Best Picture.
Movies nominated for Best Director will likely be considered "the top 5". Will we see a nominated director from a movie that's not nominated for Best Picture?

By the way- starting with the last ceremony, the French upped the number of the Cesar Best Film nominees to seven.

And finally, what I found most interesting about the whole story and comments is this statement in Variety: "What's more, one Academy member in the know predicted that this change is just the first in Oscar's world."
What else could they have in store for us loyal fan(atic)s?..

NATHANIEL R said...

yonatan don't scare me like that.

i can only handle so many changes. It's an institution. you change those things slowly not all at once. ACK!