It would probably be the understatement of the year to say that both comic book fans and general movie audiences were somewhat disappointed when "The Dark Knight," the second highest-grossing film of all time, failed to garner a "Best Picture" nomination during last year's Academy Awards. While there was no shortage of complaints and head-shaking at the time, the conspicuous absence of one of the most-watched films of the year (and in Hollywood history) sparked quite a bit of discussion regarding the relevance of the Oscars for the modern audience.
Apparently, that debate didn't fall on deaf ears. As reported on MTV.com earlier today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to expand the pool of "Best Picture" nominees from 5 to 10 films. In their announcement regarding the change, the group specifically cited "The Dark Knight" debacle as one of the factors in the decision.
"I would not be telling you the truth if I said the words 'Dark Knight' did not come up," said Academy President Sidney Ganis during a Q&A session after today's announcement.
While the decision comes too late for "Dark Knight" to earn the nomination many felt it deserved, Batman's big-screen loss certainly seems to be the gain of future comic book movies. Ganis said that discussion of such a change began in earnest after last year's event, with much attention heaped on the peripheral tributes to popular films that peppered the broadcast and were so well received (as well as widely discussed and disseminated) by viewers.
"Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize," added Ganis. "I can't wait to see what that list of 10 looks like when the nominees are announced in February."
So, the question becomes now: Will there be any comic book movies among this year's crop of Oscar nominees? We're fairly sure the year's biggest comic book film thus far, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," won't contend for "Best Picture" despite its success in the box office -- but it's likely to earn some nods in other categories. But are there any comic book movies likely to contend for the big prize down the road?
Let us know what you think in the comment section!