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March 2, 2010

Oscar Best Picture Controversy

An NPR interview that sums up the issues

Basically, this year is the first in over 50 that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (those who appoint the Academy Awards, or Oscars) have decided to expand the list of Best Picture nominees from five to 10. Some arguments include the idea that many great films aren't being recognized, which is what many said last year about blockbuster and record-breaking, "The Dark Knight." What it really means, as this interview suggests, is that the more popular movies aren't being nominated, so typical movie-goers aren't watching the Academy Awards broadcast. It really comes down to ratings and money.

It is also argued that CGI and effects-heavy movies are rarely nominated in this category as opposed to artsy independent films, or very actor-oriented films. It's a clash over what is the better platform to judge movies; production or acting?

Here's a quote from Neil Gabler, cultural historian and the guest on that particular NPR interview:

"The Academy has some 6,000 members, and the actors' branch is not quite half of the entire Academy. Actors understandably have a certain amount of animosity towards special-effects driven movies. So, those sorts of movies are likely to be given less consideration than movies that are more actor-oriented. And that's one of the reasons why we've seen the tendencies, in my estimation, in the Oscar nominations. And it's also one reason why they had to enlarge the field."

Members of the Academy are the ones who vote in the Oscars, and we are supposed to trust their opinions as experts in the industry. The new voting system for the expanded Best Picture list is the factor that may drastically affect the outcome of the category.

Basically when voting for Best Picture nominees, instead of choosing you're favorite like it has been in the past (and still is for every other category), they must rate all of the Best Picture nominees from one to 10. This means if a member has not seen a movie, the must still rate it in the list, causing them to most likely rate them last, which hurts that films chances. It also means that two films, likely the top two contenders which are "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker," could take most of the votes (#1 placement) and another film could somehow sneak into the top spot by having the most #2 placements. It's a bit confusing, not only to the audience who is not involved in the voting process, but most likely the members of the Academy as well.

Expect my lengthy posts about my Oscar predictions soon. Watch the Academy Awards this Sunday!

"...the Academy, of course, the industry says, well, it's about merit. Well, it's always been about money. It's always been about drumming up business for the movies."

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