Thursday, June 25, 2009

Up the Academy!


Members of the University of Alberta Star Trek Club at Universal Studios Hollywood, February 27, 1992.

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the field of Best Picture nominees would double in size from five to ten nominees each year.

While this looks like a decision founded more on business needs than artistic ones, I'm thrilled nonetheless. As a movie fan, I've long used Best Picture/Screenplay/Director lists to seek out worthwhile new films, and this will widen the pool of recommendations.

From the early 1930s to the early 1940s, the Academy nominated between eight to ten films for the Best Picture award each year, so this isn't exactly something new. Had this policy been in place last year, surely The Dark Knight would have been one of the extra five pictures nominated, and who knows which films could be added to the expanded list this year? Transformers 2 may get a nod...oh, sorry, the list will only be ten films long, not one hundred.

1939 was a pretty amazing year for movies. Look at the list of Best Picture nominees:

Gone with the Wind (winner)
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Ninotchka
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

I've seen each of these but for Love Affair, which of course is on my list. Had the Academy not nominated these films, I may have missed out on some great movies. (Naturally, the Academy isn't my only source for recommendations, but it's a great one for mainstream, non-genre, studio films.)

2009 probably won't be another 1939 as far as quality movies go, but the Academy's decision to recognize more films as Oscar-worthy at least opens the door for more great movies to get some deserved recognition and exposure. I hope they stick with this decision for many years to come.

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