Five plus five equals… 10 Best Picture nominees make for a difficult decision

When I sit down on Sunday, with my little printed Oscar ballot in my hand, I still can’t figure out how I’m going to feel about judging 10 movies for Best Picture this year instead of the usual five.  With five, I can easily think of their pros and cons and reasons why each should be the best picture; these five movies were the best of the best.

At first, I thought that the Best Picture count increased because there were so many more great movies that had come out this year.  When you look at the list, however, sure, all the movies are good; but are they really all the best?

The nominees include: “Avatar,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Blind Side,” “Up in the Air,” “An Education,” “District 9,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “A Serious Man,” “Up,” and “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.”

I won’t pretend I’m a movie expert; I haven’t seen all of these movies, but I’ve seen and heard enough about them to make my own judgments.

Looking more closely into the new lineup, I started to think that maybe the Academy wanted more variety in their selections; maybe there were so many different types of movies that came out that the category had to be expanded to fit in all these varieties.

But only a few of these movies are really that different or out there; “A Serious Man” is directed by the Coen Brothers, who are no strangers to the Oscars; “The Blind Side” and “Precious” are both stories about people rising from oppressive situations; “Up” is a cute animated film with a heartfelt message; “The Hurt Locker” deals with the Iraqi War, a situation we’re all exposed to in America.  And honestly, who didn’t expect “Avatar” to be part of the mix?

I’m not saying these movies don’t deserve the honor of being named Best Picture of the year, but they’re not shocking, new choices.

“District 9” seems to be the only one that’s really out of the ordinary.  If the Academy was really trying to go for different, why didn’t they consider this past spring’s hit “Star Trek?”

Upping the Best Picture count to 10 was supposed to add creativity and spice to the Oscar lineup; instead, I feel that we’re presented with a list of repeats and obvious choices.

It’s been said the new lineup was also part of an attempt to attract a new audience to the Oscars, preferably a younger one.  Again, I think that this is going to be a failed attempt.  How young does the Academy consider young?

I can’t think of many actual young kids going out to see “Precious” or “Inglourious Basterds.”  Up is the only movie on there that I think could attract a significantly younger demographic.

Leaving the lineup at five movies also made the upsets and surprises of the Oscars much more exciting.  With 10 movies now in the running, it will be less clear who the favorite winner will be; the assumed–winning movie could only be ahead by a small margin.

When a movie other than the clear favorite does take the title, it could be by a small decision; upsets are more fun to watch when a large decision is needed to declare the winner.

It’s a good idea to expand the Best Picture category –– I would love to see more quirky movies up for the win instead of the obvious favorites.  However, I think that the Academy needs more time to actually get their plan into action.

For this year’s Oscars, they kept with safe choices and predictable movies.  This year is an especially hard year to shake things up when we look at who’s nominated.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there probably won’t be an upset; James Cameron’s “Avatar” is more than likely going to earn the little gold statue.

If they really wanted to make things different this year, it probably would have been more worthwhile to downsize the category to only one movie.

Hopefully next year we’ll get 10 more diverse movies vying to take a spot next to “Avatar,” unless James Cameron decides to direct another movie.  But at least there’s a chance that he could be up there against someone other than Joel and Ethan Coen.

Laurel Wilder is a member of the class of 2012. She can be reached at [email protected]