Another example of how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences cannot avoid controversy no matter what it does, details on how members will select the new system of ten Best Picture nominees were revealed today creating a ruckus among some online pundits. But before diving into that mess, some details on the new rules.
In previous years, the Academy rules stated that members voted for only one potential nominee in the Best Picture race each year (the one category all members can submit nominees for). The five nominees with the top five votes totals would be announced as eligible for Best Picture. However, when it came around to selecting the overall winner, the process was modified so members would vote in a ranked system placing each nominee in first, second, third (and so on) slots. This "preferential" system is meant to put just as much importance on the third place vote as a first place vote and ind a winner with broad support across the Academy (got that?). So, it's possible 2006 nominee "Brokeback Mountain" may have theoretically had more first place votes, but if "Crash" appeared on more ballots between 1-3 slots it was the winner (as was sadly the case).
Because the Academy is now allowing for 10 Best Picture possibilities, it's bringing the "preferential" system to the nominee process. Now, when Academy members submit movies for the top category they will rank them from first through tenth place instead of picking just one movie to submit. Why make this change you ask? Well, the Academy overseers were rightly concerned a movie could get nominated with less than 600 votes out of approximately 6,000 members thereby not reflecting the overall preferences of the organization. That could mean films that have no right at being nominated such as "The Ugly Truth," "G-Force" or "17 Again" could somehow sneak their way in (heaven forbid).
Of course, some media pundits are insisting this will hurt the small indie flicks that never seem to have broad support (ugh, right). The hot weather must be affecting many a brain in Los Angeles as these journalists may want to look over the laundry list of small prestige pictures that have been up for Oscar the past 15 years. Indies will do just fine in this new system, don't you worry.
Up next? The first true contenders debut this weekend at Telluride and the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals next week. Look for updates on Awards Campaign as we make our annual pilgrimage to the Great White North to kick start Awards Campaign 2009-10. Are you excited yet? We certainly are...
For constant updates on awards season, entertainment news and an few NBA rants or two, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory