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Richard Roeper Blog

We’ll be back with the rest of the nominees, after this commercial break.

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was hoping to make a big splash with the announcement that the Best Picture category would be expanded to 10 nominees, congratulations, it worked.

Too bad the splash was a belly flop.

Reaction to the announcement has been almost universally negative. Every year, the telecast drags on, attracting a smaller and smaller audience, and every year everyone talks about how to fix it —- and the answer is to add even MORE movies to the mix? Are you kidding me???

Are they going to show clips from all 10 nominated films? Will the animated category be cannibalized by this decision? Can “Up” be nominated for Best Picture AND Best Animated Feature?

It would have made much more sense for the Academy to announce they were adding the category of Best Comedy. Over the last 30-plus years, the only “pure” comedy to win Best Picture was “Annie Hall.” (Some would argue “Shakespeare in Love” was a comedy, or at least a cheeky romp. And there’s no category for Cheeky Romp.) If we’d had a Best Comedy category all these years, films such as”Young Frankenstein,” “Airplane!’, “Groundhog Day,” “When Harry Met Sally…” “Tropic Thunder,” “Animal House,” “Beverly Hills Cop,”  “Being There,” “Big” and “Lost in America” might have gotten their due.

animal_house117710

What would be more exciting next year: a list of 10 Best Picture nominees, including several that have no chance, or separate categories of Best Drama and Best Comedy? Nearly every year, the five Best Picture nominees would all have been in the Best Drama category anyway; now you’d have a fresh new category that would appeal to that much-desired younger demographic. It wouldn’t cheapen the Oscars any more than the Best Animated category did.

What a dumb, dumb move  by the Academy. They finally make a big move—-and it’s the wrong move.

16 Responses to “We’ll be back with the rest of the nominees, after this commercial break.”

  1. Ron Says:

    Even though I agree with you that it’s a bad decision, I disagree with you on your reason for why it’s a bad decision. First of all, the ceremony doesn’t drag on and as soon as it’s over I wish they added another hour. Second, no way in hell should they add a “Best Comedy” category. The Golden Globes are like the NBA Playoffs for movies, with “Best Comedy” and “Best Drama.” The Oscars are like the NBA Finals, with just “Best Picture.” The reason why this decision is bad is because with 5 slots, there’s enough room to pick the worthy films and just those, but tight enough that oyu don’t have to start trying to fill in the slots by naming random movies. There’s also only one winner, so what’s the point of adding more movies? Sid Ganis stated that he hopes this will attract more viewers because they’ll be able to see they’re favorite movies nominated. That means they’ll have to nominated pieces of crap like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” People stopped watching because most people only watch dumb movies with explosions now.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Well, Rich, all I know is that several of my guy buddies are going to be DEVASTATED if “The Hangover” doesn’t make it just under the wire into the Top 10. In all seriousness, I think the comedy/drama split makes sense as well simply because it allows the studios to re-release their best moneymakers with their art films after the awards. It’s all good.

  3. Stooge Says:

    Gotta disagree. They’ve been minimizing the Best Picture clips for years now, and chances are they’ll now drop ‘em entirely or combine them into a single montages. And aren’t you a betting man? Can’t you see the appeal of how this will affect the office pools and Vegas odds? Picking the winner of a ten horse race is always more impressive than one with just five.

    Of course, the best game-changing idea is to get rid of the word “Actress” and pit the male and female actors against each other. Meryl versus Kate is boring. But Meryl versus Denzel… now that’s a tough call! But they’d never do it, ’cause it would cut down the show’s “starpower.” And really, that’s what’s all about, not rewarding the most deserving achievements.

  4. Greg Hardy Says:

    Of course “Best Comedy” would be a brilliant idea … but I’ll bet just like Best Picture, every year the truly groundbreaking and politically incorrect material would get passed over for safer choices.

    And there would still be revisionist second-guessing years down the line about what was overlooked. I mean, “This is Spinal Tap” has got to be on everyone’s Top 10 Comedies of All Time list these days … but back in 1984, it was basically this small, cult movie, no?

    Of the examples you list, I’d say only “Being There,” “Groundhog Day” and “Big” would have had a chance to win the Oscar.

    And I still don’t understand why there isn’t a “Best Stunt Performer” category.

  5. Liz Says:

    My thoughts exactly!!!
    I’d rather there had been a comedy category than a animated category, since that inevitably will be won by Pixar annually.
    I was awaiting your blog on this. I bet they will be back to 5 nominees next year.

  6. Miedy Says:

    I prefer if the academy just become more flexible. So, if there are more than 5 movies that Oscar worthy then let’s nominated them all, and if less then five then it’s fine, just don’t stick to “10″. I’m afraid we’re gonna see some not so great movie on the list just because they feel like they need to fill it. Bad idea!

  7. Nick Says:

    I agree with this statement. The Academy should have just made a new category but not just just a best comedy category but a best Action category as well.

  8. Kevin Klawitter Says:

    I don’t believe they should have seperate categories for comedy and drama. An apples-to-apples Best Picture is necessary, even if animated films and documentaries are semi-segregated.

    That being said, I don’t know if the extra 5 nominees is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, it kind of cheapens the honor of being nominated. On the other, it means less blatant snubs. On the one hand, it is likely a wider range of films will get nominated. On the other, that is not guaranteed.

    I just say we should wait and see how it turns out. I agree with Liz, though, that the number will probably be reduced again for 2011.

  9. Chris Says:

    I don’t think this is a particularly bad idea. It’s a way of honoring great movies from that year – who says it has to be limited to 5? No matter how many nominees there are, people are going to complain about some movie they loved not making it. So really, there is no winning in this situation I guess.

    It’s clear as to why this was the decision – The Dark Knight. Hell, someone even asked Sid Ganis if that movie had anything to do with this decision being made, and he even admitted that he would be lying if he said that ‘Dark Knight’ didn’t come up in the conversations about this.

    Besides, they may nominate better movies now. I liked the 10 movies nominated by the Broadcast Film Critics more than what the final five were for the Oscars last year.

  10. Brian Says:

    “If we’d had a Best Comedy category all these years, films such as ….. might have gotten their due.”

    Why on Earth does there need to be a new category for great films to get their due? The problem with the Academy Awards is the recent insistence that supposed “art films” are inherently superior to those enjoyed by we neanderthals that pay to sit in the theater. Allow me to make a few bold assertions:

    “The 40 Year Old Virgin” was a better movie than “Capote”
    “Spider-Man 2″ was better than “Ray”
    Finding Nemo > Master and Commander
    Almost Famous > Traffic
    High Fidelity > Erin Brockovich
    and the best 5 movies of 2008 were “WALL-E”, “The Dark Knight”, “The Wrestler”, “Revolutionary Road”, and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

    Since the turn of the century, the Academy seems (for the most part) to have prided itself on pointing out what bad taste the average American movie-goer has, and yet they can’t seem to understand why we are not interested in a 4.5 hour pageant highlighting our inferiority. We are not stupid, and we do not need to be informed by the cognoscenti the difference between high art and low art. I for one say there is no difference.

    Oh, and “Sunset Blvd.” should’ve beaten “All About Eve”, but I’ll give them a pass on that one.

  11. Bryan Says:

    There’s no way in Hell that Animal House should’ve won Best Picture. That movie ruined the comedy genre the same way Star Wars ruined movies in general. All of the awful gross-out “comedies” of the last decade or so-the Rob Schneider movies, the Adam Sandler vehicles, Freddy Got Fingered, Tomcats-would not have even existed were it not for John Landis’ “classic”.

    As for expanding the Best Picture nominations, I’m all for it. There was no way that The Dark Knight should’ve been snubbed in favor of lesser efforts like The Reader and Benjamin Button (LOL)!

  12. Christopher Z. Says:

    Richard,

    There seems to be an increasing divide between the Academy and everyone else in recent years. The academy members may like films such as The Dark Knight and Iron Man, but feel that comic book films and other expensive popcorn flicks are not worth nominating for best picture for simply being light entertainments, no matter how good they may be. The Academy would much rather turn its attention towards small dramas like The Reader or Frost Nixon and recognize them as being good enough to nominate for best picture.

    Everyone else sees films such as The Dark Knight or Iron Man, despite being comic book movies or popcorn flicks, as being genuinely very good and worth Oscar recognition. Many people think Wall-E deserved to be nominated for best picture. Furthermore, the Academy has been nominating films for best picture that many people have never heard of and very likely will never see like The Reader. I myself had never heard of The Reader until its best picture nomination had been announced, and I still have not seen it.

    Many people were obviously outraged that The Dark Knight and Wall-E were not nominated for best picture. They believe and see that films like these really can be great, may actually be better than smaller dramas like Frost Nixon and The Reader, and probably deserve best picture nominations.

    I have a feeling that the Academy has been getting lots of pressure to give more recognition to other types of films like comic book movies, or be at least a little more diverse in their choices for best picture nominees. This pressure is due to the fact that The Dark Knight (a film that many people believe is one of the greatest movies ever made) was not nominated for best picture.

    I was not a huge fan of either The Dark Knight or Iron Man. I thought Batman Begins was a better picture than The Dark Knight, but this is beside my point. The point is that the Academy’s failure to nominate films other than obscure independent dramas for best picture (especially their failure to nominate The Dark Knight) and the pressure they have probably received to give more recognition to pictures like Iron Man, Wall-E, or The Dark Knight, has led them to increase the number of best picture nominees from 5 to 10 for next years Oscars. This perhaps means that we will be seeing Pixar animated films, comic book movies, and other popcorn blockbusters like Casino Royale being nominated for best picture.

  13. pablo souza de almeida Says:

    Couldn´t agree with you more.Wait until they announce the most boring oscar speech category.

  14. Brian Says:

    Also, it’s of course a silly exercise to try to decide what the best movie is. It’s an apples to oranges comparison of subjective opinions, there can be no truly satisfying consensus reached. What is valuable is the exercise itself: the discussion and the attempt to defend your choices that it spawns. This is where the Academy is so misguided: they are excluding too many people from the conversation. They pick films that are really obscure and non-accessible in favor over straightforward simple pleasures (again: neither is inherently superior to the other).

    Increasing the field to 10 films only exacerbates the problem. It’s unrealistic to think many people will have seen all 5 nominees, let alone 10. We are now left even more distant from the voting crowd in our ability to add to the conversation, and our capacity to care. The correct solution would be to admit that entertaining movies (The Dark Knight) are better than boring ones (The Reader).

    And as long as best animated film is separate from best film, most pretentious oscar speech should be kept separate from most boring. The winners could be voted on before the telecast ends and have their statues taken back!

  15. Michael Says:

    While redesigning the presentation I say don’t have Whoopie Goldberg as host ever again and release the full-length unedited show on DVD annually. Include bonus material, behind the scenes, an on/off option to see footage between commercial breaks, and Easter Eggs. Then they do not need to be so concerned about what and how it is broadcast. Does it really have to be live? Squeeze the live broadcast down to the material people watch for. If it is about rating’s ad revenue wouldn’t the DVD sales make up for it? Allow the winners to savor their Oscar moment with an indulgent speech that we can fast-forward. Just don’t have Whoopie Goldberg as host ever again.

    BTW, Red Skelton did an ingenious segment on acceptance speeches one year.

    …and don’t have Whoopie Goldberg as host ever again.

  16. Joel Says:

    I’m not a great fan of how the Globes or the Oscars work individually–but I think they compliment each other well. Where as the Globes give films their due in comparison to other films in a similar genre, the Oscars [supposedly] ignore genre altogether. This is why the animation category should be dropped and why I wouldn’t be a fan of seeing “Best Comedy” or “Best Drama.”

    At first I too disliked the idea of having 10 films in the Best Picture Category–but after some thought it makes sense. Most of the other categories are easier to trim down (makeup/soundtrack/costuming/art direction), but when it comes to the Best Picture there really are more options. The Dark Knight obviously deserves a nom for special effects moreso than The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire certainly deserved a nom for Direction moreso than Wall-E. You can narrow down those categories easier. But All 4 deserved a Best picture nomination–and that would only leave one more spot.

    I also think that a “Best Performance” category should be added and the actor/actress and supporting categories should be combined into just “best actor” and “best actress.” I think a “Best Comedy/Drama/Action/whatever” movie category would be interesting, but not so much as a nomination deal–moreso as a “everyone write down your answer and we’ll see who gets the most.” I think that would be a way to let movies that didn’t get nominated get recognized.

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