The Academy Awards have just changed their rules. No, they're not adding a new category for stunt men (even though they really should). They're changing the number of Best Picture nominees. Again. Two years ago, in what was widely considered a reaction to The Dark Knight getting snubbed in the Best Picture race, the Academy raised the number of nominees for the top honor from 5 to 10. As of this year, the number of nominees will change again: from 5 to 10.
You read that right, although we phrased it weird on purpose. From here on out (or at least until the next rules change) the number of Best Picture nominees will be flexible, with a minimum of 5 nominees and a maximum of 10. Why did they do this thing?
It's important to remember that the Academy doesn't just tally up votes to determine who gets nominated. There's also a ranking system, in which voting members place their choices in order. From here on out, any movie needs at least 5% of the 1st place votes to qualify. If that's 10 films, then great. Bob's your uncle. If it's 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9, then that's how many Best Picture nominees we'll have that year. If it's four films, then it's somebody's lucky day, because apparently they're getting bumped to the big leagues. If it's 11 films (and it's possible: up to 20 movies could, in theory, have 5% of the 1st place votes), then screw you, 11th movie. They've got to draw the line somewhere.
The Academy isn't just pulling this out of thin air, mind you. According to Deadline they've worked closely with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm which handles the Oscar voting process. It turns out that if these rules had been in place over the last ten years, they discovered that the number of Best Picture nominees would have been fluctuating between 5 and 9 nominees this whole time. What they are decidedly mum about is which other films would have been nominated or, in the case of the last two years, which would not have been under those circumstances.
As fans of the Academy Awards, we're curious to find out these things. Does it matter? Not really. Would it be really, ridiculously super-awesome-crazy-cool to know? Yes.
Crave Online will be back with more Oscars news after we practice our acceptance speech.