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If film critics can issue Top 10 lists, why not Oscar?

June 30, 2009 | 11:37 am

I think it's hilarious reading all the blog rants against the Oscars' decision to expand the best-picture list to 10, written by the same film critics who issue their own Top 10 lists every year.

Oscars 10 best picture nominees news 813725964

I cheer Oscar's decision. As the telecast confronts declining Nielsen numbers, this is a great antidote since it will draw in more viewers rooting for their flicks to win. Oscar's Top 10 list will probably include lots of popcorn pix snubbed in the past like "The Dark Knight" and comedies like "Borat." Also, animated gems like "Toy Story" that were so neglected previously that the academy had to create a separate race for them eight years ago. Will that category be eliminated ahead? Maybe, in a few years, if "Up" and other worthy entries get in. As things stood up till recently, if socko comedies like "Tropic Thunder" and musicals like "Dreamgirls" and "Sweeney Todd" continued to get skunked, the Oscars might have been forced to launch a separate new best-pic race for comedies/musicals like the Golden Globes.

Actually, the Oscars are not only just now catching up with list-making film critics and the Golden Globes but other film groups like the National Board of Review, the Critics' Choice Awards and even the American Film Institute, which hail 10 film finalists every year. And with Oscar himself, since the motion-picture academy frequently had far more than five nominees in the 1930s and 1940s.

Since then, once the Oscars' restricted the best-picture race to five, all of the following classics failed to be nominated for the top prize: "The African Queen," "East of Eden," "North By Northwest," "Now, Voyager," "Psycho," "Singing in the Rain" (No. 10 on the AFI list of greatest movies ever made), "A Star Is Born" and "2001: A Space Odyssey." AFI lists "Some Like It Hot" as the 14th-greatest film and the best comedy ever made, but it failed to make Oscars' high five.

Decades ago, the Oscars frequently nominated popcorn pix like "Airport," "Jaws" and "The Towering Inferno," but pretentious Hollywooders have gotten awfully highfalutin lately, so this expansion of the race should fix that.

Bottom line: Oscar snobs like you and me won't be fooled by the expanded category. While it will include 10 films, there will still only be five up for best director and, as every Oscarologist knows, the best-picture winner usually needs to have a corresponding bid for helming. Thus, predicting the winner will pretty much be the same game as before. Yes, there have been three exceptions – "Wings," "Grand Hotel" and "Driving Miss Daisy" – but those first two were before 1933.

There's a lot of ridiculous buzzing in the blogosphere about the Oscar using this change as a chance to bump the awards for best shorts or sound editing off the prime-time telecast. Blasphemy! Aren't the Oscars the High Holy Event of the film realm? Isn't attending church supposed to be long and boring? It's good for the soul.

Furthermore, the Oscars are supposed to be sacred in another sense. They aim – ideally –   to rise above commercial concern to champion the best of film, period. Why punish the little people and the shorts? Aren't the shorts the flicks that need exposure most? The Oscars must resist such cyber-whining by chowderhead bloggers who already have an awards show that puts a premium on staging an entertaining telecast: the MTV Movie Awards. Does anybody care what wins those? Does anybody remember? (Hint: "Twilight" won best picture this year, "Transformers" last year.)

Photos: United Artists, Paramount, Warner Bros.

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The comments to this entry are closed.


During any further rants about the Academy for which Mr. O'Neill does not qualify, he should keep in mind that a very few people in that organization - and very, very few creative members of that association - were asked about the decision to change the rules. If a televsion rating had been higher, the topic would not have surfaced.
Of course media employees would enjoy the change; Variety and The Times are probably counting the added cash expected now. It was an unimaginative response to a lousy TV show, and shouldn't be so easily used to lower the currency earned by the genuine artistic discrimination that prevailed for the past 6 decades. The Academy members should have been consulted; not those who already enjoy their own forums and currency.

Pretentious? Highfalutin?

Yeah, cause Airport and Towering Inferno are such highlights in celluloid history.


Oh Great Tom! Another article that you are so happy about cuz you got to squeeze in and mention and pimp "Dreamgirls" and "sweeney Todd"!! Boooo! Give it a rest! Never mention these over-rated movies (mostly by you!) too again!!

Personally i think that they should go the golden globe route and just do comedy/musical and drama categories.

Also, why are they being so disrespectful to the music dept by forcing them to have each song pass an 8.25 score or no nominations at all? They dont' do that for actors and actresses or any other category. It's bad enough that they ignored so many great songs this past year and only had 3 nominees.

The real problem with the ratings is that they refuse to move back to the original tradition of having the oscars in late march. Having small movies, forcing academy members to nominate pictures right after new years and then forcing audiences to catch up on the nominated movies in less than a month. There's also put themselves in the middle of all these award shows -- where there is a show every week -- when they were in March, there was a three week break between awards shows.

I love this rant! I am now officially a champion of the 10 nominees rule change.

Bravo Tom! I think its great to inject some fresh blood into the old war-horse!

One has nothing to do with the other.

There is nothing to stop the Academy from listing what films were voted 6-10th among the nominees, thus making a ten best list.

The purpose of having 5 nominees is:

1) Assuring that as high a level of quality is involved in the competition (obviously this in an imperfect process, but more lesser choices than deserving ones are going to make the cut now.

2) Choosing what is the best film, not the 5 or 10 best films. With 10 entries, there is a better chance that a film not regarded as worthy by many members wins.

Sorry, but among the arguments for doing this (and I have written that there are some, although I believe the preponderance of arguments are against it), saying this is the same as critics making a 10 best list is about the weakest.



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