Fans of The Dark Knight who gnashed their teeth over its exclusion from the race for the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2008 can take some solace knowing that, apparently as a result of the outrage, the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences has expanded the field of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. As a result, this year, whereas those of us who follow the annual Oscar nominations would usually see a slew of art films with the token mass-appeal movie thrown in for good measure, now there are ten nominations which seem to be split evenly among the "blockbusters," or movies which have grossed over $100 million, and those which haven't. A lot of other bloggers who chose to voice their opinions around the time the nominations are released basically divided the ten among those the Academy among those who the Academy wanted to nominate and those they felt they had to nominate.
What do I think? Well, not that it really matters in the great scheme of things, but people take the Oscars a tad too seriously, more than they deserve, and this little episode is proof of that.
The expanded field is both a blessing and a curse; on the one hand they allow the Academy members to include deserving films that would otherwise be on their "almost" lists, but on the other hand, it creates a tendency towards "tokenism."
That doesn't strike me as much of an issue with films like District 9, which nabbed a slew of technical nods and even one for best adapted screenplay, or Up, hails from regular Oscar-bait-house Pixar, but considering that The Blind Side, a film I haven't seen, has as its ONLY other nomination one for Sandra Bullock's acting in a lead role, I smell an attempt to fill a quota. That just feels wrong on several levels, because either now the Academy is trying too hard to please the all-important TV audiences that keep their program relevant, or are showing absolute contempt for those very audiences by choosing films that, without the expanded system, basically wouldn't get the time of day from the Academy. So they're either pandering excessively to or showing their disdain for the general public. Either way, I don't see this ten Best Picture nominee system catching on too well in the long run.
Of course, that's just me.
But hey, if it means Iron Man 2 will be able to snag a Best Picture nod next year, maybe it'll be worth keeping around for just one more awards season...