The 16th Academy Awards, held in 1943, was the last ceremony to include ten best picture nominees. Before then the list of nominees could include as many as twelve films. "Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize," Ganis adds.
This news will most likely appease fans who felt cheated by Best Picture snubs like The Dark Knight last year, but at the same time it’s hard to believe that this many films may be worthy for nomination. Unless other categories like Best Animated Feature and Best Foreign Language Film are axed altogether, the best picture nominees will surely be a lot harder to find.
I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this news, on one hand I was just as bummed as the next guy by The Dark Knight's omission from the race, and the recent change will certainly help soften the snooty image that the exclusion of that film among others helped exacerbate. On the other hand, that snootiness is pretty much the only reason that the Oscars really mean anything anymore. The Academy was able to get away with including twice as many Best Picture nominees 75 years ago because there were few movies that hit theaters back then that weren't artistically praiseworthy or groundbreaking in some way, that is hardly the case now. Adding more nominees will do nothing more than further separate the Academy from it's already fading meritocracy.
Imagine an awards season, following a particularly lackluster movie year, where a Michael Bay joint could end up padding out the Best Picture race alongside a Martin Scorsese film. Nobody wants that. And although the five nominee system kept some worthy films from being nominated in years past, the new system won't likely change which movies end up winning the category, and it will undoubtedly make it more difficult for some films to win anything at all. If Wall-E had been included in the Best Picture race it probably wouldn't have bested Slumdog, but it was the clear choice in the best animated feature category. But who knows? The change could work out for the better, maybe every nominee will thoroughly deserve the honor, either that or the Transformers 2 DVD can prepare to flaunt a shiny new Best Picture nominee blurb on it's DVD cover. Never mind, I can't even joke about that.