The proposed changes by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences may be one of
the single-worst decisions in the organization’s history.
In 2009, the Academy decided to expand from five to ten Best Picture nominees in the
hopes of nominating popular films. This came following a backlash to The Dark Knight
not being nominated. While director Christopher Nolan is a critical darling, the film was
passed over by the Academy for Best Picture considerations. The film would win two
Oscars and receive a number of technical nominations.
The five films that did get Oscar nominations in 2008 were Frost/Nixon, The Reader,
Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Milk. These films
combined for $353,486,991 at the box office to The Dark Knight’s $533,345,348.
Despite an Oscar nomination, Frost/Nixon couldn’t even finish in the top 100 films at the
Once the changes were made for the next year, it’s hard to say which films benefited.
Avatar got a lot of nominations purely for its technical achievements alone. But come the
summer of 2011, the experiment was over. The Academy decided to award no less than
five but no more than ten films as a result.
The Best Popular Film idea seems to be nothing more than a ratings ploy at best. But
how do you decide the criteria for what constitutes the most popular film? IMDB
ratings? Most fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes? The number of people tweeting a
film’s hashtag? Twitter followers? Facebook likes? The Academy is going to have a lot
of questions to answer about this.
All of this nonsense notwithstanding, the Academy made even more moves. They are
aiming for a three-hour broadcast so they’re going to cut a few awards and air edited
speeches in broadcast. If it were me, I’d be the person talking after the music stopped
playing and would go on until after the commercial break! I hate that the Critics’ Choice
and SAG Awards release some of their winners during the red carpet. It’s not fair to
those films and people nominated.
The Oscars can and should do better. Most importantly, they need to reverse this
nonsense. It didn’t take well on social media. To quote the great Groucho, I’m against
Danielle Solzman is a film critic and a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle, Galeca: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and the Online Film & Television Association. She also writes for Solzy at the Movies.