Academy Awards may revert back to the 5-nominee system

Oscars

Recently, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is considering a return to the practice of nominating only five films for the honor of best picture as opposed to the maximum of ten that they’ve been nominating since 2009.

The change from five nominees to ten nominees to a minimum of five and maximum of ten nominees had much to do with The Dark Knight; its omission in 2008 left many people bitter and the expansion of the category was meant to boost the award show ratings while satisfying audiences who think such popular, yet still impressive, films deserve recognition.

Now, a significant faction of the Academy is pushing for a change back to five nominees, arguing that a greater amount of films in the category waters down the field and strips it of its prestige. Supporting the group’s urge to switch back is the fact that a greater number of nominees hasn’t really increased the audience of the annual Oscars telecast. This year’s Academy Awards broadcast on ABC was down more than 15 percent from last year’s and sources say there is fury among the governors about the quality and length of the show.

“They tried it and it really didn’t do us any good,” says one high-level source. While no official proposal has been placed before the Academy’s board of governors, that could happen as soon as March 24 when the governors next meet.

I have to say, I’m rather torn about this. On the one hand, including more nominees provides exposure to great films when they would be otherwise hidden among larger movies. Fantastic movies like Foxcatcher, which didn’t even make the cut this year with eight nominees, have a greater chance to receive much-deserved recognition. There are a ton of great movies out there if you look carefully and an Oscar nomination is a great way to launch them into the mainstream.

On the other hand, the Academy Awards are supposed to honor the very best in film. Having so many nominees does, sometimes, water down the category as when The Blind Side or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close received nominations in the new system. The former was a mediocre movie and the latter was a critical and financial disappointment and is the the only widely reviewed Oscar nominee to have a ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now, this might sound picky, but that’s kind of the point of these awards shows. Specifically, when people work hard and make a great product, you tend to want them to be appreciated even though it’s not affecting you directly. Although, I’m still¬†recovering from Drive‘s omission in 2011.

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