Thursday, 25 June 2009

What if the Best Picture changes happened five years ago?


The announcement that the 2010 Academy Awards will feature ten Best Picture nominees has sent shock waves through the film industry. It's a huge change and it seems to be dividing people, with some arguing it is devaluing the award and others saying it gives more recognition to deserving films. I am very much in the latter group. In recent years the category has become too clogged with Oscar bait films and animation and foreign languages are often discarded and left to compete their own respective categories. This an opportunity for great films that would not usually get recognised to get their time in the spotlight. It may not change the winner, but a nomination is ample reward.

This also got me thinking about past films that missed out that would have benefited if the 10 nomination system had been in place in their year. This list features films that could have been nominated over the last five years if there were 10 slots. They consist of films that would likely have been nominated, genres that would normally be ignored, and a few pieces of wishful thinking.

2009

What was nominated:

Slumdog Millionaire (winner)
Milk
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

What could have been nominated:

The Dark Knight - The clear choice. Not the Academy's favourite genre but a cultural phenomenon.

Wall-E - One of the finest films of the year. It just happened to be animated.

The Wrestler - Popular with audiences and the Mickey Rourke comeback story was creating huge buzz

Gran Torino - Clint Eastwood's acting swan song. Universally acclaimed.

Doubt - It was clearly shooting for a Best Picture nod and just missed so would have made the extended shortlist

2008

What was nominated:

No Country for Old Men (winner)
Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
There Will Be Blood

What could have been nominated:

Into the Wild - Surprisingly missing from a lot of award nomination lists. A strong, inspiring and well acted film.

Ratatouille - Another Pixar classic that could have made the step up.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Scored a directing nod. An excellent film.

Eastern Promises - Hopeful, perhaps, but one of Cronenberg's bests.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Criminally under-looked by the Academy, getting only two nominations when it deserved many. This deserved a Best Picture nomination.

2007

What was nominated:

The Departed (winner)
Babel
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

what could have been nominated:

The Lives of Others - This was robbed in two respects as Ulrich Mühe deserved an acting nod. One of the best foreign language films of the decade.

Pan's Labyrinth - Another foreign film, and fantasy at that. It did get 3 Oscars though and it was loved by all.

United 93 - Sensitively made film dealing with difficult subject matter. The kind of highly emotive film that the Academy is drawn towards.

Children of Men - This is probably wishful thinking but for sci-fi this was deep and meaningful and very high quality.

Blood Diamond - It got five nominations and would have probably made the shortlist.

2006

what was nominated:

Crash (winner)
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Good Night and Good Luck
Munich

what could have been nominated:

Walk the Line - Very good biopic featuring great performances.

Pride and Prejudice - Not a personal choice, but the Academy loves a good costume drama.

Cinderella Man - May have been a bit of a box office failure but it was a great film that hit the mark.

The Constant Gardener - Well acted film that had a lot of buzz at the time.

King Kong - Lots of people expected this to get a nomination when it was announced following Peter Jackson's success. It was too long though and that probably killed its chances.

2005

what got nominated:

Million Dollar Baby (winner)
Finding Neverland
Ray
Sideways
The Aviator

What could have been nominated:

Downfall - Possibly the greatest portrayal of Hitler on film.

The Incredibles - Yet another Pixar film. It transcended genres and was one of the films of the year.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Perhaps wishful thinking but Charlie Kaufman was heavily hyped and it was very original.

Hotel Rwanda - Extremely moving. I was surprised this didn't make the original cut.

Vera Drake - Had a lot of critical acclaim. Would have made the ten.


As you can see there are some truly great films that deserved recognition on here and the decision to have ten nominees can only be a good thing. Lets hope this year produces ten films that make the new look Best Picture category an incredibly competitive shortlist.

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28 comments:

  1. How could you forget 'Match Point' from 2005?!?!

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  2. A History Of Violence.

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  3. You undermine your own argument by including films that could have been nominated purely because of their hype and not the finished product itself. "King King"? Please. A film should be nominated based on the finished product, not because of hype surrouding the star, the director, the screenwriter, or anything else. That's like giving a Best Meal prize to the recipe when the final cooked meal was a bit disappointing.

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  4. Afraid your lists make the case for leaving the numbe of nominees at five, don't find most of them particularly deserving, only their ad agencies would find them worthy.

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  5. I know that probably no-one will agree but Sweeney Todd had to be nominated in 2008. It would be something new and unexpected and way more interesting.That's why they made 10 Best Picture nominees-to make it more interesting and innovative so original movies like "Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street" could at least be nominated

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  6. Pride and Prejudice for Best Pic?! Please! That movie was a travesty! A sad mistake which should have never been committed! Kiera Knightley's perpetually pouting Elizabeth Bennett is the worst Elizabeth Bennett ever on screen! Why would anyone want to adapt this novel again after the best and most definitive version of the novel (with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) has already been done by the BBC?

    Also, from last year's list of Best Pic probables, I think Revolutionary Road definitely deserved a place... certainly more than Doubt...

    Leena

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  7. 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

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  8. If perhaps everyone's alternate 10 list was the result of this new change, then maybe we'd all accept it. The fact remains that most likely terrible movies will get nominated in the list of 10 just as terrible movies somehow get nominated in the list of 5. If I felt this would benefit overlooked and deserving films, and that the Academy wasn't about politics and business, then I might support the change. Unfortunately, that's not the way it is, which is why they should have kept the list at 5, and changed the atmosphere surrounding which films were able to get nominated.

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  9. 'Little Children' in 2007.

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  10. I completely agree about Sweeney Todd. It won the Golden Globe for best musical/comedy, beating out Juno, and then it wasn't even nominated for the Oscar? Come on! Nothing against Juno. I liked Juno. I own Juno. But as far as feats in moviemaking, Sweeney Todd deserved that nomination far more in my opinion.

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  11. Dreamgirls probably would've gotten a nod in 2007, as everyone was shocked that it didn't (I, however, was pleased).

    In any case, good list. You seem to recognize that what the Academy might nominate and what is actually good aren't always the same thing (unlike some of the commenters here).

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  12. How could you not include Synecdoche, New York in the 2009 best picture category. Arguably a better film than Eternal Sunshine in 2005. ( I would remove Gran Torino)

    As well, Revolutionary Road should be in the 2009 list. (Here I would have taken out Benjamin Button from the original list).

    The change to 10 means nothing if the list of nominees doesn't include good films instead of films with tremendous marketing/nominations budgets.

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  13. Them jews would never let Downfall be nominated.

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  14. I thought King Kong was one big CGI effects-fest. The acting was poor, drenched in tears and fear. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but only because I love dinosaurs.

    Sorry, I don't think it should've been on that list.

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  15. I totally agree with Leewhys: Pride and Prejudice was a sad sad adaptation...only enjoyable if you knew the story and because the actors were good looking, and the music was good...I still can´t belive that Knightly received a nod for that...horrible performance!

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  16. You forgot Gone Baby Gone and Match Point! Other than that, good predictions.

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  17. I still cring every time I see Crash referenced as a best picture winner, I still think if is one of the worst films ever made. Contrived isn't a strong enough word to describe the plot and the acting was horrible...other than Tarance Howard and Ryan Phillips most actors gave uncharacteristically bad performances

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  18. Honestly, I do not really see this as a huge deal. If you look at the Oscars when they started, it looks like they nominated whatever films they thought looked like they deserved it. In 1935 (the year "It Happened One Night" won) about 12 films were nominated ranging from epic "Cleopatra" or the musical romp "Flirtation Walk." It doesn't look like they started putting a limit on the number of films nominted until the early 1950's. I guess it is a new concept to today's Oscar viewers, but it is really nothing new.

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  19. so nobody cares about zodiac?

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  20. Glad to see you didn't forget Children of Men =) one of my favorite movies of all time.

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  21. As much I loved Gran Torino, Walle, and Waltz With Bashir, none of those three would have made last years list as Gran Torino didn't get any nods, Waltz didnt even win forign, and even with the added list they aren't ever going to nominate an animated film ever again, even when it deserves it.
    I think instead of Walle and Gran Torino nominated it would've been The Reader (as much as it didnt even deserve any nods thi year) and either In Bruges or The Wrestler would be on the list.

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  22. Yeah, you left out Zodiac. One of the greatest films of the decade (in my opinion.)

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  23. Ever notice that the best animated feature is usually one really good film, and 2 more mediocre films thrown in just so there's some competition? They're going to be scrambling to find 10 worthy films in a year.

    'Pride & Prejudice' did not deserve any nominations. As Leewhys pointed out, the BBC's miniseries was superior in every possible way, from acting to costuming to setting. I know the length of a miniseries allows for a more in-depth story, however, this movie was completely mis-cast, especially the role of Mr. Darcy.

    Of course there will be differences of opinion; I loved Crash, and Anonymous should know that it's spelled Terrence and Phillippe.

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  24. The amount of nominations will ruin the film industry. If you read a review, pick up the dvd to look at in the video store or look at a poster, a non-deserving movie will soon have an Oscar Best Picture Nominee printed across the top.
    Usually scarce, having 10 nominees a year will bring attention to poorer movies instead of showcasing the best of the best.

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  25. the only thing I hated more then that self-absorbed hack Sean Penn stealing the award that everyone in the room knew belonged to Mickey Rourke, was Gran Torino receiving absolutely nothing
    however, since it wasn't released until December 08, is it possible that it could be nominated in 2010?
    it wouldn't be the first time the Academy has gone for delayed gratification

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  26. Leewhys, if you would shut up and present your OPINION respectfully, that would be great.
    I personally prefer the Joe Wright version. It is visually more appealing and directing is lovely. Jennifer Ehle was not my Elizabeth Bennett. I found the BBC version very stiff in comparison to the flow of the book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the BBC version as well, but I think Mr. Wright had a beautiful vision for Pride & Prejudice. It fit nicely with how I imagined it.

    I'm not a big fan of the 10 nominee scenario, but it might prove to be interesting. Or they may ditch it after 2 years. It's not my ideal but it's not the end of the world.

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  27. Sid Ganis is an idiot. This is merely a ploy to up the ratings which have been declining for years along with their paychecks. And when it doesn't work, they will go back to the old way, mark my words. What used to be a privileged few will now be watered down by mediocre to good films or ones that may be commercially successful, but not great. And The Dark Knight was not the clear choice, it's your clear choice and every other comic book/action boy fan out there. Get over it. Just because a film is a "cultural phenomenon" and earns mega millions at the box office does not make it Oscar-worthy. The American audience in general has bad taste. They either want dumb comedies, something with a lot of action or a sappy romance film but not serious dramas or ones that may be depressing or that speak truth. That is why we have the Oscars and The People's Choice Awards. I suppose now The Hangover will be nominated for Best Picture? The films being nominated should be films that have the best direction, actors, writing, truth, etc. The complete package. The Dark Knight was not the complete package. I was glad that The Reader was nominated and thought Revoltionary Road should have been too. It spoke more truth about people and the world we live in than The Dark Knight did. And the acting was awesome especially by Kate Winslet. And for the record, I'm still a fan of Burton's Batman and Batman Returns which had the perfect mix of comic book and darkness. And the acting was better. Christian Bale sounded like a chain smoker with his overly raspy voice.

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  28. KING KONG would have been nominated because of the fantastic acting on Naomi Watts side(among others) and although it was a CGI action movie it was still emotional. I would also add CASINO ROYALE. PRIDE & PREDJUDICE is a great movie were KEIRA KNIGHTLEY gave a great performance and it deserved a spot.

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