So, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally succumbed to the almighty dollar and has opened its Best Picture category to ten nominees.
So what will this mean for the average movie goer? Titillation? Excitement? The actual thought that more mainstream films will be included and actually have a chance of winning? Well – here's my take on it:
I see it as possibly being the biggest bait and switch show ever. Seriously – you think that by leading the general public into naming five more films in the Best Picture category that successful box films like Star Trek or Transformers 2 would actually have a shot?
Do you really believe that a popular film would get a better chance at winning if it got to be nominated?
I can tell you right now – no way folks.
They might get nominated – but the fans of those shows will only be sucked into watching the Oscars just to see the better film win.
You've got to hand it to the Academy though, faced with plummeting ratings of their awards show, they've done almost everything to lure the viewer back.
The problem is "genre" films which happen to be both popular and brilliantly made – The Dark Knight for instance – are extremely rare. Most popular films really aren't that great – they're formulaic drivel. Movies like Star Trek XI, Wolverine and Terminator Salvation simply aren't that good.
The Academy prides itself in the promotion of its ART. Movies like that are automatic rejects by the Academy voters and I have to say – for good reason. They may be flashy – but they're still not art.
Well last year the Academy rightfully took some heat for snubbing The Dark Knight (with the exception of Ledger's posthumous award.)
Now they want to expand the category to allow for more competition?
I smell desperation and it's pretty stinky. Why not just vote for the best five movies? Better yet Academy members – why don't you stop voting with your hearts and stop giving away awards to people who should have won them in years beforehand?
You see, I think the Academy can only fix their awards show when they fix their credibility. When movies/actors/directors win awards from their peers out of pity or popularity the product is diluted. End of story. When the viewing audience – who's not stupid by the way – knows a better film or actor lost out because the voting contingent needs to make amends for snubbing someone/some film from the year(s) before – they get a little put off. They know it's unfair and then they see it whole thing as some sort of sick popularity contest as opposed to a fair and fun competition.
And I think that's all the Academy is doing with the expansion of the Best Picture category. They're diluting their credibility to make up for the years of snubbing genre films like The Dark Knight.
Sure successful films will be tossed in and get a nomination – and now those films will get to plaster the term "Oscar nominated" all over their DVD boxes, billboards, and ads to increase the sales of their movie but will it really increase their chances of winning an Oscar?
I'm not so sure. Fates forbid we get an influx of drivel nominated because they were successful at the box office and popular with the public. That would be the end of the Academy's credibility in my eyes.
Personally, I think it's the wrong tack to take. If a successful film is good enough the Academy should just drop their revulsion of genre films and vote for it. They proved they could do it with Lord of the Rings. They nominated an animated film for Best Picture (they just couldn't vote for it – so now they've created their own category.) There was nothing holding back Academy voters from choosing to give a nod to any film before now – they were just too full of their own preconceptions about the sci-fi, fantasy and comic book genres to want to affiliate themselves with it. The Golden Globes gets around their prejudices by dividing up the drama from the comedy/musicals.
It's why I think they just lost touch with the real world. Throwing a meaningless nomination at five more films to entice viewers to their show is not only insulting to the viewers it's potentially a huge backfire waiting to happen. It simply smacks of elitism – like the Academy is saying "Here – we'll lower ourselves and nominate some more popular films now and hope to tune into root for your faves – but don't be surprised when we actually vote for the low-budget drama."
So I am actually looking forward to next year to see which 10 films will get to increase their sales potential by getting the "honor" of being nominated for Best Picture but never really having a chance at winning; because the Academy – if it values its own brand – will never let a genre film win over a heart-breaking or politically pointed drama unless it's so amazing they can't ignore it (like LOTR.)
It's kind of weird – I just feel like the Academy is throwing a bone to the mutts and is hoping we're dumb enough to enjoy chewing on it while they give the steak to the poodles.