For the first time since 1944, Oscar is gonna bestow his nominations love upon more than five films in the Best Picture category come February 2. Ten movies will receive this honor, for, frankly, sorta wishy-washy reasons, according to Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
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.
Well, OK, but why limit it to 10 nominees, then? If the goal is to spread the love around to more popular movies than AMPAS sometimes honors, why not 15 nominees? Or 20?
Still, this is what we're working with this year. And with speculation that the Academy's expansion of the category was prompted by the lack of Best Picture nominations for audience favorites such as The Dark Knight and Wall-E, it seems a sure bet that some films that would have been unlikely nominees in recent years will get a nod this time around. Who'da thunk the Academy were secretly such popularity whores?
Here's my predictions for those 10 slots, based on all the second-guessing behind AMPAS's move:
These three will answer the "But the Oscars are out of touch with real moviegoers!" complaint. None of them will win, because the Academy hates science fiction and shows no indication that that has changed.
These two will show that the Academy is hip to the kind of film geekery that Quentin Tarantino and Pixar represent; also, Basterds is about Nazis, which is just plain awards bait, even if it comes laden with violence that is snarky and even fantastical rather than History Channel-solemn.
Which leaves us with the films that, in a five-nominees year, would have filled the ranks:
A historical costume romance, a serious war movie, a gritty urban drama, a Coen Brothers conundrum, and a modern screwball dramedy -- that looks like a traditional Oscar lineup, and I'll bet the rent money that the winner will come from that list.
Which one will Oscar pick? I'm gonna go with A Serious Man. The Academy may pretend it wants to be more ecumenical, but I think it's gonna pick an inscrutable art-house head-scratcher just as an extra snub to everyone who speculated that it might go with Tarantino's pulpiest fiction or Cameron's 3-D blue aliens.