Best Picture Oscar Noms Swell to 10

By Robert Marich
    June 24, 2009 – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said today that it will field 10 Best Picture nominees, which reverts back to a bigger nominee group common in the 1930s and 1940s. For decades, only five pictures were in the Best Picture Oscar category.
   By spreading the cachet of Best Picture to more films, more films will be in the Oscar conversation. But it remains to be seen if the AMPAS voters will look beyond the serious dramas that dominate this category (some films could even be called turgid) to nominate some well-crafted comedies, thrillers and other genres....for a change!
   “The Oscars will expand the Best Picture race from five to 10 nominees next year in an apparent attempt to hype TV ratings by potentially opening the field to more popular pictures like The Dark Knight," suggested a New York Post article.
     This could also be great news for the Hollywood trade newspapers, which could get a boost in Oscar promotional advertising, given the bigger field.
      Notes a Wall Street Journal article, “Increasing the number of films that are nominated may have adverse effects, say some Hollywood insiders. It could dilute the impact that Best Picture nominations have in terms of advertising, and studios may choose to mount fewer expensive marketing campaigns around the awards….Campaigns for a competitive 'Best Picture' film typically cost around $10 million and includes advertising in trade publications like Variety and sending 'screener' DVDs to voting members of the Academy."
  The Academy itself isn't admitting any commercial motives. “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,” AMPAS president Sid Ganis said in a statement. “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, by the way, is a longtime film marketing executive).
   For nine years in the early days of the Oscars, there were 10 nominees. The 16th Academy Awards (1943) was the last year to include a field of that size; Casablanca was named Best Picture.  In 1931/32, there were eight nominees, and in 1934 and 1935 there were 12 nominees.
   “Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” said Ganis.
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