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,” said Ganis. “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.”Ganis assumes that all ten nominees will be great. What an optimist, he is!
We haven't seen 10 Best Pictures nominess since 1943 (Casablanca won... definitely one of Oscar's smartest moments). They settled on the traditional five for the 1944 film year and it's stayed that way ever since.
This could mean that anything remotely "baity" will get nominated each year. We're in for whole lineups consisting of the Frost/Nixons, Seabiscuits, and Finding Neverlands of the world, whole lineups populated with Doubts: films that inexplicably win favor over superior films or films which aren't really good enough to be in the running but all the prestige elements are in place.
I can only assume the recent snubs for critically beloved and audience supported films like WALL•E and The Dark Knight have finally started embarrassing the Academy. But widening the field doesn't necessarily mean that the quality or box office tallies rise with it. What a pessimist I am.
Last year for example, who knows what it would have looked like. It seems like these eight would have made it...
We don't know for sure. The anti-genre voters are still anti-genre (i.e. they can't take animation, comedy, superheros, horror and sci-fi seriously, always equating "message" and traditional drama with quality) no matter how wide the ballot gets.
But perhaps this does mean that less traditional genre leaning films that got some awards traction like Dancer in the Dark (better than any nominated film in 2000), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (better than any nominated film in 2004), A History of Violence (better than most of the nominated films of 2005) or WALL•E (better than any nominated film in 2008) have a better shot at the big honor? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. We'll see.
It sure makes predicting things this year suddenly more challenging. We've never seen the outcome of the shotgun approach to Best Picture nominating in our lifetimes. Will this change last longer than their sudden new category for "original comedy score" -- one of their more bizarre decisions -- which lasted from 1995 through 1998?