No surprise: Academy isn't returning to just 5 Best Picture nominees
Remember all those people who were clamoring for the Academy to go back to the good ol’ days? When there were just five Best Picture nominees? Yeah, that’s not happening.*
*Is "Toldja" trademarked? Is that appropriate here?
The Academy’s Board of Governors met last night and a number of items were on the table. Many of the decisions voted on during the meeting were made public in a press release earlier today. In particular, there are new rules regarding producer credits for Best Picture nominees that involve PGA eligibility (a huge boost for the Producer’s Guild, by the way). The Visual Effects category will now have 20 shortlisted contenders in the first round. Even the Animated and Live Action Short Film contenders have some new qualifications to deal with. But changes to the Best Picture field? Sources tell HitFix the loud minority pushing for a return to the previous status quo lost and you should be glad because without the current system there is no way “Inside Out” is earning a Best Picture nomination.
It may have been pure happenstance, but the commercial and critical success of “Inside Out” and possibly even “Mad Max: Fury Road” likely worked against those pushing for a change. Sure, the ratings of this year’s telecast were down significantly from the year before, but there were many other factors at play there. Host Neil Patrick Harris was not the draw Ellen DeGeneres was, there was a lack of overall starpower among the nominees themselves (no Angelina, J-La, Leo, Brad or Sandra) and ABC certainly didn’t do themselves any favors by failing to scream from the mountain tops that the biggest release of 2014, “American Sniper,” was up for Best Picture. Now, it’s June and there are already two legitimate contenders for a Best Picture nod that are commercial hits. Not only are they hits, but they also have passionate fan bases. And, again, while we're two months away from the real players hitting the court (sorry Cannes) you’d have a hard time convincing anyone who is in the awards season game that the Pixar blockbuster would easily make a five-picture field. It's superb, but it isn't the game changer “Beauty and the Beast” was.
What those hoping for a reset failed to realize is that since the Academy modified the rules to allow for five to 10 nominees (as opposed to a mandatory 10), the membership has made their voices heard. There simply haven’t been any “Blind Side” embarrassments in the mix since. 2015 was a perfect example of how the current system is supposed to work as just eight films made the cut instead of nine the year before. The argument that the relatively new system isn’t working simply isn’t true.
Keep complaining naysayers. The Academy has more important things to deal with like finding new producers and a host for next year’s show.
The 88th Academy Awards will be broadcast on the ABC television network on Feb. 28, 2016 at 7 PM ET, 4 PM PT.