Oscar Times 10? Pros and Cons of the Expanded Best Picture Race


The MPAA have announced they’ll nominate 10 rather than five Best Picture nominees next year, and the commentary has flown thick and fast. Each side has a point:

Pro: Fans point out that in early years the Oscars frequently named ten or more nominees at a time. The fabled 1939 crop, for example, included Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, et alia — not a dog in the bunch. Con: The fabled 2010 crop will probably include Transformers 2 and The Proposal. Hollywood’s not what it was and the new Top Ten will represent not an embarrassment of riches, but grade inflation.

Pro: More nominated films means more movies that can say, “Nominated for Best Picture!” which will mean more business for those movies. Con: Recession-strapped consumers will not double their intake of movies just because more of the ads have little gold men in them. The guy who shells out for The Hangover and whatever Megan Fox is in will not open his newspaper next year and say, “Look, honey, Away We Go is up for Best Picture, let’s take the kids.”

On the other hand —

Con: The Oscar show will become unwieldy because five extra best picture contenders will require that much more explication and excerpts. Pro: The producers have been good in recent years about speeding things up, and we can assume that they will zip through all the clips quickly. The program will become more of a promotional highlight reel for the industry than an ad for a handful of lucky nominees, and perhaps lure more consumers to consider filmgoing as an alternative to miniature golf or credit-card payments.

Con: Studios and publicists will be obliged to spend more money on Academy Award ad campaigns, which one industry observer says is “just what they don’t need in a recession.” Pro: Consider it a stimulus package for the advertising and newspaper businesses, both of which badly need it. In fact, this is a good argument for expanding all the categories. Once fan films start showing up in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, movies will be more fun to write about and to read about. Plus the Weinsteins can afford it. Everybody wins!