After six years, one of the Oscars’ boldest (and most desperate) experiments may be coming to an end. In 2009, the Academy Awards changed its rules to allow up to 10 films to receive Best Picture nominations. The thought process was simple enough: with double the potential nominees, more mainstream fare could get nominated and ratings for the annual Oscars telecast would increase. But that didn’t work. This year’s ceremony was a disaster (in more ways than one) and the Academy is apparently ready to call this whole thing off and return to the old ways.
In a piece over at The Hollywood Reporter, the entire history of this controversial rule change is recounted in detail. The short version: many people were shocked when Christopher Nolan’s massively popular The Dark Knight failed to secure a Best Picture nomination in 2008 despite getting nods in eight other categories. The rule change came into effect the next year, which just so happened to be the same year in which James Cameron’s Avatar became the highest grossing film of all time and managed to snag one of the 10 Best Picture nomination slots (it ended up losing to The Hurt Locker).
Other mainstream hits have managed to sneak into the nominations — The Blind Side, Toy Story 3 and Gravity — however, smaller films continued to take the top prizes, ratings never really improved and the ceremonies themselves kept on getting worse. There is a lot wrong with the Oscars at the moment and reverting to the five Best Picture nominee system won’t fix all of them, but it’s certainly a start.
The Academy’s Board of Governors is expected to meet later this month to “strongly consider” changing the policy, which they believe will return the proper amount of prestige to the film industry’s highest honor. In other words, if they can’t have those ratings, they at least want some of their dignity back, damn it!
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