Will The Oscars' Guaranteed 10 Best Picture Field Lead To More Unpredictable Choices?

Parasite Kang-ho Song holding the infamous rock

Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made some important decisions regarding how the Oscars can further attempt to promote diversity going forward. Among the decisions to create a more inclusive picture of the film industry at large was a concept that could lead to more unpredictable choices at the 2022 Oscars. Starting with that year’s ceremony, we’re about to move into a world where a 10 Best Picture field is guaranteed.

At the heart of this decision is a question that came to mind the moment I read THR’s reporting on this new initiative: will a guaranteed 10 Best Picture race bring a more unpredictable Oscar race? There’s certainly enough hypothetical information to confirm either case, and that’s what I’ll discuss in detail below.

How A 10 Best Picture Race Could Lead To More Unpredictable Choices

The argument in favor of this guaranteed Best Picture race is one that works on one key factor: opportunity. With the current thresholds of Oscar voting requiring a film to score a specific percentage of votes for qualification, some feel that this particular restriction has stymied the chances of some films that lie outside of those metrics. As the voting numbers aren’t released from The Academy’s final tallies, there’s no way to tell who was truly left out of any given crop.

That being said, how many years have there been a dialogue where films like The Farewell, Us, Knives Out and numerous others were left out of the running because of the cut off? With a 10 picture race guaranteed every year, the theory in favor of the decision would be that with many guaranteed slots, there would be a better chance for unpredictable, dark horse nominees of that sort to make it in.

How A 10 Best Picture Race Might Not Lead To More Unpredictable Choices

While the theory that a guaranteed 10 picture race for top honors is something that people could get behind, there’s still a discussion to be had about how this could still lead to business as usual. More slots wouldn’t automatically lead to more surprising and unpredictable results, because as The Academy has shown in the past, the nominated crop that comes into play each year is because of the overall tastes of the voting board.

10 guaranteed slots a year would ultimately mean 10 guaranteed opportunities for The Academy to disappoint the public by voting in more films that almost feel destined to get those slots in the first place. No matter the number of Best Picture nominees, the same looming question will creep into the picture: “Are Ford v. Ferrari or Little Women really good enough to put into the running?” As always, the tastes of The Academy’s membership will decide the race.

What Steps Should The Academy Take To Ensure The Best Picture Race Becomes More Inclusive?

Two sides sit on either side of this argument, but of course, the overall issue is, what would ensure that The Academy will use this 10 Best Picture guarantee to ensure diversity? Well, reading further into the new practices that are being implemented alongside this measure, there’s a picture as to what sort of path has been laid out to do just that.

Measures such as maximum term limits for the governors of The Academy membership, as well as a year-long initiative to allow members to watch eligible films through their proprietary streaming platform, are set to help shape the entire bloc in key aspects. Voters would, ideally, be exposed to more movies in a year and better able to watch all of the films in a particular category when crunch time comes at the end of the year. Also, with varied leadership at the head of The Academy, static voting blocs and attitudes would be less likely to take hold of the entire process.

The entire process isn’t limited to those measures, but those are key changes that would help the new guarantee of 10 Best Picture choices actually mean something. It’s still too early to tell which side of this argument is more accurate, as we won’t be seeing these changes in action until the 2022 Oscar cycle gets underway. These intentions are a good start, and perhaps with feedback from how 2021’s awards race is run, we’ll see some exciting diversity start to take shape in a new 10 Best Picture competition.

For now, the 2021 Academy Awards will take place on February 28, but could find themselves delayed due to the current health crisis’ effect on this year’s release schedule. Should this change take place, CinemaBlend will be here to report those updates as they develop.

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Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.