For the first time in generations, the 2010 Academy Awards features more than five nominated films in the coveted Best Picture award category. This year the Oscars features 10 nominations for Best Picture. The films in this category range from Disney/Pixar fare to the highest grossing film of all time, Avatar.
While historically there may have been years where the Academy Awards would have benefited from the expansion of the category, this year it seems almost superfluous to tack on an extra five nominees. Public opinion is almost entirely behind Avatar with some holdouts for The Blind Side while The Hurt Locker and Precious are critically acclaimed pieces of film-making that could pull out an Oscar night surprise and walk away with the top Best Picture award.
While any of these four films could win, the general consensus is that the Best Picture category will come down to The Hurt Locker and Avatar directed by ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron, respectively.
The other six films nominated for Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards are District 9, An Education, Inglorious Basterds, A Serious Man, Up, and Up in the Air. While all six of these motions picture are certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination in lesser categories under normal circumstances, they could have easily been left off of the Best Picture list. For the fifth wild card slot, likely choices would have been Inglorious Basterds and the Disney Pixar masterpiece Up as both resonated well with critics and average movie ticket purchasers.
That being said, this is the year of Avatar, and the only chance of it being overshadowed in the Best Picture category would have to come from a film that was critically successful but not at all mainstream or widely viewed. This practical necessity explains well why speculation has now widely settled on an Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker battle.
As Roger Ebert reported in the Sun Times, many Academy Award experts believe that the decision to upgrade the category from five to 10 nominees was not an effort to bring recognition to more films, but instead an effort to keep the Academy Awards relevant and possibly increase ratings. The assumption being that the inclusion of mainstream blockbusters would help increase viewership as more people would watch to see if their favorite film of the year actually managed to win best picture.
As stated above though, this theory is wasted on the 2010 Academy Awards as both of the main contenders for the top spot, The Hurt Locker and Avatar, would most certainly have been in the running for Best Picture if the category had still only contained five nominees. The awards show would have garnered viewers interested in the stiff competition without the additional titles thrown into the ring.
The main thing the extra titles in The Best Picture nominations will do for the Academy Awards this year is slightly lengthen the amount of time needed to relay the titles of each movie when coupled with the requisite clip offered to members of the audience and home viewers. The Academy Awards should have passed on ten nominees this year and have pulled the surprise out for an award’s year without a clearly defined frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar.
Roger Ebert, “Academy Bombshell! Best Picture Nominees Increased from 5 to 10!” Roger Ebert.SunTimes.com.
“Best Picture Nominees.” Oscars.