Academy shakes up Best Picture race

It’s been two years since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shook up the Oscar race by increasing the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. Now comes a new development that will make awards’ season even more confounding.

The Academy issued a press release stating that the number of Best Picture nominees in 2011 could be anything from five to ten. There could be six. There could be eight. There could be seven. There could even be nine! Or, as we’ve seen in the past, there could be a boring ol’ five or ten nominees.

I’ll hand it over to the presser to make sense of this decision:

“With the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers, we’ve been looking not just at what happened over the past two years, but at what would have happened if we had been selecting 10 nominees for the past 10 years,” explained Academy President Tom Sherak, who noted that it was retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis who recommended the change first to Sherak and incoming CEO Dawn Hudson and then to the governors.

During the period studied, the average percentage of first place votes received by the top vote-getting movie was 20.5. After much analysis by Academy officials, it was determined that 5% of first place votes should be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from five to 10 movies.”

First of all, I would love to see which films would have been nominated in years past if there were 10 eligible places in the Best Picture category. Secondly, although their reasoning makes sense, I fear we’d lose those smaller films that perhaps wedged their way into the BP race in the past two years (Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right, An Education etc.) and picked up a larger audience accordingly.

We’ll find out how many films are in the running for Best Picture when the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards are announced January 24, 2012.

Discuss: What do you think about the Academy’s decision?

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