Academy Awards Change Best Picture Voting... Again
06.15.11 by reelz
Two years ago, the Oscars surprised everyone by announcing that for the first time in over 65 years, the Best Picture category would include ten nominees instead of the usual five. No doubt this was in response to bitter public backlash over the exclusion of popular, critically acclaimed movies like The Dark Knight and several Pixar projects.
After a couple of award seasons and a little bit of data to go on, the Academy has decided that it's time for a change again. This time, the number of Best Picture nominees can vary, and the public won't know the result until the day the nominations are announced.
The Academy outlined the criteria for nominee selection in a press release on its official site. In order to qualify for Best Picture contention, a movie must receive at least 5 percent of all first-place votes. Thus, if the top ten movies include only seven that received the requisite 5 percent, then there will be seven Best Picture nominees instead of ten. It seems the one exception occurs if fewer than five movies get that 5 percent; there must be a minimum of five nominees (and a maximum of ten).
Retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis explained the reasoning behind the change:
In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies. A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.
Although the change is sudden, it does seem like a welcome change, a way to be inclusive while at the same time avoiding filler. Had the system been in place from 2001 to 2008, there would have been 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 nominees in certain years, according to the same press release. It'll be interesting to see how those numbers vary in the coming years.