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Top 10: Reasons Oscar’s expanded best-picture field is a bad idea

- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

Every year, the Academy Awards ceremony introduces some feature designed to raise the show's dwindling appeal — a younger host, the comely Anne Hathaway singing onstage. Next year's change is a real doozy, though. For the first time in almost seven decades, there will be 10 best-picture nominees, double the number of recent years. It might seem a good way to get more crowd-pleasing films on the ballot, but we wonder if the Academy has thought this change through.

1. Length — The change instantly makes an already snooze-inducing show longer. Not only do we have to see clips of five more nominated movies, there might be more guests we have to watch making their slow way down the red carpet.

2. Slights — If they do try to keep the show to the same length, it's likely they'll cut the acceptance speeches they've been trying to curtail for years, slighting the lesser lights whose Oscar wins are the only chance all year they get to shine.

3. More half-baked spoofs — There will be twice as many films to parody in the already interminable opening musical-comedy medleys, which haven't been memorable since Billy Crystal and David Letterman needled "The English Patient" in 1997.

4. Harder to keep up — Those viewers who make a point of seeing every best-picture nominee before the ceremony now have twice as much work to do.

5. More nastiness — Two times the nominees means twice as many best-picture promotional campaigns, replete with cutthroat rumor-mongering and whispering campaigns a la … well, examples are too numerous to mention, but Harvey Weinstein was involved in just about all of them — as when a Miramax consultant contacted reporters about homosexual scenes left out of "A Beautiful Mind."

6. Hurt feelings — Filmmakers who complain — publicly or privately — when they don't get a nomination will really be hurt if they can't even make it in as one of 10.

7. Wrong winners — Vote-splitting among the serious films means the token blockbuster could win. Does the Academy really want to give Michael Bay an Oscar?

8. No glory — With so many movies to choose from, it'll be that much harder to win your office Oscar pool.

9. Shortage of worthy entries — Good luck trying to find 10 worthy entries …