Back in 2009 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that they would expand the total number of possible nominations for Best Picture from 5 to 10. Now, in 2015, let’s take a look at how that changed the way they approached well-received blockbusters, and answer whether or not they should just go back to 5.
Back in 2009, when the Academy was honoring the best films of 2008, a lot of people were upset that the Academy had not acknowledged the greatness of the comic book blockbuster The Dark Knight. The Academy answered the next year by nominating ten films, with the hope that it might boost television ratings.
It was a controversial move, without a doubt, but it gave a lot of independent films a chance in the spotlight. But that was never really the point. The point was to acknowledge well-received blockbusters to boost ratings, seeing as there are a ton of independent film awards. A stamp of approval from the Academy Awards on a blockbuster would be huge, but… they haven’t really given one.
Before moving on, here are the number of nominees in each year from the 82nd to 87th Awards:
- 2009 (82nd) – Ten Nominees – Winner: The Hurt Locker.
- 2010 (83rd) – Ten Nominees – Winner: The King’s Speech.
- 2011 (84th) – Nine Nominees – Winner: The Artist.
- 2012 (85th) – Nine Nominees – Winner: Argo.
- 2013 (86th) – Nine Nominees – Winner: 12 Years A Slave.
- 2014 (87th) – Eight Nominees – Winner: Birdman.
Avatar (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010) are the two films I would single out as noteworthy nominees (yes, Inception was a blockbuster, but I would argue that it should have been nominated even if they only nominated 5 films that year.). The former for being a historic blockbuster with game-changing effects, and the latter for being an important animated feature film. I would not single any other nominee out from those years listed earlier.
Now, personally, I would not have nominated Avatar, but they nominated it – and that’s just fine because it’s one of the films they sought to acknowledge. I have no problems with them not granting a well-received blockbuster the award for Best Picture, but I have a huge problem with them not acknowledging the films they sought to acknowledge by going from 5 to 10 nominations.
The Academy did not nominate the gigantic blockbuster Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (82nd Awards), but at least they nominated a full slate of 10 films. Then, at the 84th Awards, they did not nominate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, in a year where they did not nominate a full slate – coincidentally in a year where every single film was very film critic friendly, not the other way around.
Then at the 85th Academy Awards the Academy had an opportunity to nominate two of the greatest comic book films since The Dark Knight, the film that they expanded the number of nominations for, Marvel’s The Avengers & The Dark Knight Rises. The Academy had one spot open, but chose not to use it. This doesn’t sit well with me.
Did they deserve to be nominated in the 5-nominations system? Probably not, but if you were expanding the number of nominations to boost ratings, then don’t just nominate film critic friendly films.
Now, my argument here isn’t that the Academy should nominate Ant-Man or Jurassic World at the 88th Academy Awards – not even slightly. My argument is that the Academy should do away with 10 nominations. Go back to 5 nominations straight away, because you haven’t changed your ways one bit. The Academy is something special, it should be prestigious – so don’t nominate ten films – don’t nominate more films to boost ratings.
Nominate the 5 best films of the year, don’t think of your nominations as a stamp of approval – that is what film critics, reviewers, and review aggregators are for. Not all good movies deserve a nomination, don’t tarnish the prestige of your awards to appeal to a young audience because you’re doing it wrong and that audience won’t respond.
But what do you think? Sound off in the comments.
I’m Jeffrey Rex
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