Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Early Oscar Shocker!

Look away now if you find the whole Oscar business unimaginably tedious. Two years after the Academy stunned analysts by increasing the number of best picture nominations from five to 10, that body has made another, even odder change to …

Fri, Jun 17, 2011, 14:20

   

Look away now if you find the whole Oscar business unimaginably tedious. Two years after the Academy stunned analysts by increasing the number of best picture nominations from five to 10, that body has made another, even odder change to the rules. Next year, there could be as few as five nominees or as many as 10. The notion seems to be that all films that receive more than five percent of first preferences will — up to a maximum of 10 — be shortlisted for the big prize. (Unless, of course, fewer than five manage that feat. In which case, I assume, they just include the top five.) Have you got that?

Initially suspicious, I think that increasing the nominees to 10 has actually worked out quite nicely. It was good to see movies such as Winter’s Bone and A Serious Man make it into the (longer) short-list. Even if those films had little chance of winning, they added class to the big party.

The Academy appears to think differently. Most boffins believe that the plan is to weed out the also rans. According to The Envelope, The LA Times’s awards blog: “Some skeptics said that the number 10 was misleading since some films had little to no chance of actually winning. Tuesday’s news, then, seems designed to eliminate films that are nominated just to fill out the field of 10.”

Huh? Surely, it has always been the case that films with no chance made it into the nominees enclosure. Could Nicholas and Alexandra have won in 1971. Ghost in 1990? What about Sounder in 1972? You can play this game yourself.

It all reminds me of taking exams in the Trinity College maths department during the 1980s. In those days — maybe it hasn’t changed — you weren’t told how many questions you had to answer. The unfortunate mathematician attempted as many as possible and then, after seeing how well the student body had done, the examiners would decide how many to grade out of. Oscar-watchers will encounter similar problems when trying to guess the nominees for next year’s big prize. This year, we got all 10 right. In 2012, we may need to read the entrails of chickens to repeat that result.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email for the activation code.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 10 days from the date of publication.