Why Ten Oscars are Better Than Five (Plus Five Other Oscar Fixes)

America, or at least the Americans who cover the film industry, were stunned by the out-of-the-blue announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would be expanding the number of Best Picture nominees next year, from five to ten. The last time there were ten Best Picture nominees was 1943; apparently, winning the war gave Americans less desire to praise movies? Anyway, some people are crying foul, saying that crummy movies will now get nominated, and that's just dumb. We think this is a great idea, and we've got five reasons why in the last five years' worth of great films that didn't make the cut. Of course, in honor of the we also have a list of five other things that the Oscars still need to fix.

Reason #1: 2008
Last year was a big year for snubbed movies. Not only was The Wrestler just begging for a nod, but the superhero genre saw two of its greatest movies ever, The Dark Knight and Iron Man, and neither stood a chance in the biased world of the Academy. Maybe a ten-nominee field would have gotten one of them to the big dance? Definitely on that ten-figure list would have been WALL-E, which everyone was calling the Best Picture of the year long before it won Best Animated Feature.

Reason #2: 2007
Another big year, 2007 brought us Gone Baby Gone, Into the Wild and Eastern Promises, and while you can argue whether Juno deserved its nomination, you can't argue that these three didn't deserve a shot as well.

Reason #3: 2006
Epic, pulse-pounding and technically superb, Children of Men was science fiction so visceral and familiar that it almost made us forget that we weren't living in a sterile society on the brink of collapse. If it'd been a documentary, it would have won hands down, but thank God it wasn't.

Reason #4: 2005
The Constant Gardener. Ralph Fiennes. Rachel Weisz. Bill Nighy. Africa. Drug testing. Murder. Fractured narrative. How did this not get nominated again?

Reason #5: 2004
Michel Gondry's directorial masterpiece and Charlie Kaufman's most mind-bending script yet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind gave us Kate Winslet at her crazed best and Jim Carrey at his most subdued, and the supporting cast (Dunst, Ruffalo, Wood, Wilkinson and Cross) filled the corners of this time-jumping sci-fi dramedy with pure win.

And that's just the last five years! However, while a more varied Best Picture race would mean a more exciting broadcast, there are still things the Academy needs to fix to make the Oscar race, and the ceremony itself, more interesting:

1. Even more nominees.
It's not just the Best Picture race. All of the categories are skewed towards dramatic, non-genre performances; only rarely does a comedic role like Johnny Depp's sublime Jack Sparrow or Robert Downey Jr.'s daring blackface turn break through. Expanding the main acting categories as well would give a lot more comedic and genre roles a chance.

2. Allow early nomination.
Early-in-the-year movies are completely handicapped against getting nominated, since voters have forgotten about them by the new year, which is why November and December are always jam-packed with prestige films. And we're sorry, but the holiday season is no time for the theaters to be full of Nazi flicks. The Academy should announce a July nomination round, so studios can start spreading out their quality films.

3. Less government interference.
The films in the Best Foreign Film category are still chosen and submitted by the governments of their respective countries. That seems a little weird, right? Like, if the Oscars were held somewhere else, what movie would the U.S. government choose to submit? Doesn't seem like such a good idea now, does it?

4. Make voters go to the movies.
It used to be that the Academy held screenings of nominated films for its members, but because the films are all sent out on DVD now, there's no way of knowing whether the people voting are even watching them. Or they may be making a sandwich or reading a book while the thing is playing. Mandatory theatrical screenings would restrict the voting to people who had definitely seen the films, and it would present the films in the format for which they were intended.

5. Get them drunk.
The worst part of the Oscars? No drinking at the ceremony. The Golden Globes are a lot more fun, with swearing and bird-flipping aplenty. Get those celebrities hammered!

What do you think of the proposed changes to the nomination round?




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Movies Without Pity

February 2012


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