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Academy Awards - Ten Nominations


August1991

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I think that this is how it was originally designed. In the early 1930s, there were more than five nominees for Best Picture. I always wondered why they chose five nominees. Why five?

Obviously, an Oscar nomination boosts ticket sales, and the only question is why the Academy didn't do this before, in the 1970s. Well, maybe some smart people reckoned that, when it comes to PR, there's more value in being honest. From its start, the Academy was a marketing vehicle. We'll see whether this expanded pool encourages sales.

The 2010 Academy Awards, which will be presented on March 7, 2010, will have no less than 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category. The last time more than five films competed for the Oscars was in 1943, the year Casablanca won for best picture. (Among the losers were The Song of Bernadette, The Human Comedy, The More the Merrier, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Watch on the Rhine.)
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Let me go off on a few tangents, for fun.

The Song of Bernadette is an awful movie, and For Whom the Bell Tolls isn't much better. Hollywood destroyed a good novel.

Another Hemingway story "A Farewell to Arms" was nominated (along with 9 other movies) in 1932 for Best Picture. It lost, to "Cavalcade". Cavalcade is a British melodrama saga that is now pointless. Hollywood's version of "A Farewell to Arms" (with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes) stands the test of time.

Last point: If you want modern perspective, rent In Love and War. Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell directed by Attenborough.

Edited by August1991
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A complaint I have heard a number of times is that the Academy Awards are of decreasing relevance across the board because there's such a disconnect between the movies that are nominated and the movies that the public actually watch.

The last "Best Picture" nominees that I actually paid money to see were Juno (2007) and "Return of the King" (2003). I did watch the award shows when movies I was interested in were in the running. I may have caught bits and pieces of last year's show; I can't actually recall.

I suspect that the idea here is that if more people's favorite movie received a nomination, more people might actually pay attention to the awards. I would anticipate some of the additional 5 spaces will be given to some movies that wouldn't normally get a sniff, but were well-reviewed and did brisk box-office. ("Blind Side", "Avatar", "Star Trek", and "Up" would fit the bill, I suspect. "Transformers II" wouldn't.)

I put little stock in awards, particularly "The Oscars". I suspect that if I fire up the forum's search features, I could find some cynical stuff I have written about the Academy Awards over the past 4 or 5 years.

I am always skeptical of what the voters are thinking. I am skeptical of whether their choices are motivated by actual quality, and how much is motivated by "buzz". And by stuff that happened in prior years ("Chucky got ripped last time. I'm voting for him this year to make up for it." or "Man, that guy just craps gold. Everything he does is awesome. I'm voting for him, and I didn't even see his movie.") And motivated by political considerations. Like, when they gave Tom Hanks the actor award for "Philadelphia", were they voting because of his performance, or were they voting in support of the movie's AIDS message? Was Halle Berry really the best actress the year she won? She usually can't act her way out of a wet paper bag. If Kathryn Bigelow wins best director this year, will it be on the strength of "The Hurt Locker", which I hear is terrific, or will it be because they've never had a female best director before?

Based on their record, the Academy Awards just aren't very credible with me. Every year it seems like there's some weird choice that gets made for reasons that don't relate to the product on the screen.

And more to the point, I don't pay much attention to the Academy Awards because they just don't relate to the films I'm interested in seeing. Am I going to see "Precious"? No. Am I going to see "Precious" if it wins a bunch of awards? Still no.

-k

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A complaint I have heard a number of times is that the Academy Awards are of decreasing relevance across the board because there's such a disconnect between the movies that are nominated and the movies that the public actually watch.
I suspect not.

The Nobel Prize started in the early 1900s, like the Olympics. The Academy Awards started in the 1920s. Why then, in the early century?

I put little stock in awards, particularly "The Oscars". I suspect that if I fire up the forum's search features, I could find some cynical stuff I have written about the Academy Awards over the past 4 or 5 years.

...

Based on their record, the Academy Awards just aren't very credible with me. Every year it seems like there's some weird choice that gets made for reasons that don't relate to the product on the screen.

And more to the point, I don't pay much attention to the Academy Awards because they just don't relate to the films I'm interested in seeing. Am I going to see "Precious"? No. Am I going to see "Precious" if it wins a bunch of awards? Still no.

How naive.

Kimmy, you are atune to Hollywood hype. So?

====

Why, in 2010, has Hollywood reverted to 10 nominations? Is this a home video BR HD 7.1 sound thing?

Edited by August1991
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How naive.

I do realize that there are a lot of people who would go see (or rent) a movie because of an award nomination. However, I'm not sure how numerous those people are. I know that it used to be that nominated movies would get brought back to the theatres to reap the commercial benefits of an award nomination, but now I don't know if that happens. I can't recall it happening recently, anyway.

Kimmy, you are atune to Hollywood hype, as I am.

well, I did go to see "Avatar" in some degree because of hype... just a different kind of hype. In my case, anonymous voters endorsing some flick they didn't pay to see and might not have even watched isn't very compelling to me, but the large number of people debating whether Avatar had changed the state of the art (and so forth) was something I was interested in finding out for myself.

Just about anybody has buttons that can be pressed to get them interested in something.

Why, in 2010, has Hollywood reverted to 10 nominations? Is this a home video BR HD 7.1 sound thing?

I gather your view is that in prior years they could only write "Best Picture Nominee!!!" on 5 DVD boxes, and now they'll be able to write "Best Picture Nominee!!!" on 10 DVD boxes.

My view is not that much different... my view is that they've begun to realize that people are starting to look at a DVD box that says "Best Picture Nominee!!!" and say "who cares?" Or worse, they look at a DVD box that says "Best Picture Nominee!!!" and say "huh, arty crap" and put the box back on the shelf and find something else.

It ceases to be an effective marketing tool if people no longer associate an Oscar nomination with something they're interested in seeing. I think they are starting to worry that the absence of commercially successful movies from their awards show (and the plunging ratings that have resulted) have undermined the value of their award.

As a result, I think you'll see some of the extra 5 spaces given to big successful movies, just to try and get people to watch their crummy show again.

-k

Edited by kimmy
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Based on their record, the Academy Awards just aren't very credible with me. Every year it seems like there's some weird choice that gets made for reasons that don't relate to the product on the screen.

And more to the point, I don't pay much attention to the Academy Awards because they just don't relate to the films I'm interested in seeing. Am I going to see "Precious"? No. Am I going to see "Precious" if it wins a bunch of awards? Still no.

The academy makes weird choices sometimes for sure. But what i like about the Oscars (and Golden Globes) is that make me aware of quality films i haven't heard much about. If the Oscars didn't exist, i very likely wouldn't have watched No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Slumdog Millionaire etc. These are really good films, but aren't box-office films with buzz or much advertising. I agree the Oscars are definitely a massive marketing tool.

Take the Oscars for that they are, an award show like any other. No award show is the be-all and end-all of what is "best".

The thing that bothers me most about the Oscars is that they don't have any awards for some film genres. Like, i really think there should be an award for "Best Comedy" (or "funniest film"). Comedies usually aren't the most critically acclaimed films, but the movies that make people laugh are such a massive part of film history and it gets no respect from the Oscars unless that flick also happens to be an amazing "film" with artistic merit.

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The academy makes weird choices sometimes for sure. But what i like about the Oscars (and Golden Globes) is that make me aware of quality films i haven't heard much about. If the Oscars didn't exist, i very likely wouldn't have watched No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Slumdog Millionaire etc. These are really good films, but aren't box-office films with buzz or much advertising. I agree the Oscars are definitely a massive marketing tool.

Take the Oscars for that they are, an award show like any other. No award show is the be-all and end-all of what is "best".

I agree, some movies I pass up because they didn't catch my interest for whatever reason, The Hangover was one, I thought it was just another frat movie until it picked an award at the Golden Globes, when it came on pay for view this weekend I spent the $5 and and enjoyed it, funny and original..

The thing that bothers me most about the Oscars is that they don't have any awards for some film genres. Like, i really think there should be an award for "Best Comedy" (or "funniest film"). Comedies usually aren't the most critically acclaimed films, but the movies that make people laugh are such a massive part of film history and it gets no respect from the Oscars unless that flick also happens to be an amazing "film" with artistic merit.
you're right comedies and horror films as well aren't given much credit as serious movies and should have more recognition I think the Golden Globes had a seperate category for comedy and musicals...
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I agree, some movies I pass up because they didn't catch my interest for whatever reason, The Hangover was one, I thought it was just another frat movie until it picked an award at the Golden Globes, when it came on pay for view this weekend I spent the $5 and and enjoyed it, funny and original..

It may have been funny, but it was still just another frat movie. It featured the song "Who let the dogs out?" for gods sake.

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It may have been funny, but it was still just another frat movie. It featured the song "Who let the dogs out?" for gods sake.

But it's still a movie. The Oscars only focus on films that "move us deeply" or "inspire us" etc. Those movies are great, but what about films that focus on the ability to make us laugh? Shouldn't they be rewarded also? And what about other genres of film the stir different emotions? The poster about mentioned horror films ie: the ability to frighten/scare?

I find it funny how the Oscars are always hosted by a comedian (usually a film actor in comedies) who tries to make the audience laugh throughout the show...and yet none of that hosts' films will ever be rewarded by the Oscars for making the same people laugh via film. That's stupid!

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But it's still a movie. The Oscars only focus on films that "move us deeply" or "inspire us" etc. Those movies are great, but what about films that focus on the ability to make us laugh? Shouldn't they be rewarded also? And what about other genres of film the stir different emotions? The poster about mentioned horror films ie: the ability to frighten/scare?

I agree. There are a few horror films I would have put in for best picture. The Blair Witch Project (I know that I'm probably alone on that one) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining... One genre film - Silence of the Lambs - won in the 1990s but that decade mostly brought in the classical-music-and-foreign-backdrop-important-film kind of nominations.

In the 1970s, Jaws was nominated and Annie Hall - a comedy - won best picture.

Oscar Noms

I find it funny how the Oscars are always hosted by a comedian (usually a film actor in comedies) who tries to make the audience laugh throughout the show...and yet none of that hosts' films will ever be rewarded by the Oscars for making the same people laugh via film. That's stupid!

Oh wait - 1998 had Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love - a comedy, for which the latter won.

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I agree. There are a few horror films I would have put in for best picture. The Blair Witch Project (I know that I'm probably alone on that one) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining... One genre film - Silence of the Lambs - won in the 1990s but that decade mostly brought in the classical-music-and-foreign-backdrop-important-film kind of nominations.

In the 1970s, Jaws was nominated and Annie Hall - a comedy - won best picture.

Oscar Noms

Oh wait - 1998 had Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love - a comedy, for which the latter won.

Is Silence of the Lambs really a horror? I bet the voters were told that they were voting for a "taut psychological thriller." I think science fiction and fantasy films tend to get the shaft as well. The only one I can think of winning a major award is Return of the King.

I like the description "classical-music-and-foreign-backdrop-important-film kind of nominations" ...it's pretty close to the truth. The "important film" and the "epic period drama" tend to get a lot of attention at these sorts of these sorts of thing. The voters seem terribly impressed by "serious" movies, and they just love films with special messages. People in period costumes strikes people as "serious" acting.

-k

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I agree. There are a few horror films I would have put in for best picture. The Blair Witch Project (I know that I'm probably alone on that one) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining... One genre film - Silence of the Lambs - won in the 1990s but that decade mostly brought in the classical-music-and-foreign-backdrop-important-film kind of nominations.

In the 1970s, Jaws was nominated and Annie Hall - a comedy - won best picture.

Oscar Noms

Oh wait - 1998 had Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love - a comedy, for which the latter won.

I understand you're point. However, these are all "best picture" nominations. Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love weren't nominated only because they were funny. They were overall excellent films with an artistic merit.

Silence of the Lambs won, and it should have since it's a brilliant film and Hopkins is incredible in that flick, but i would call that film a psychological thriller rather than a straight horror film. I mean, my mom would watch that film. She wouldn't sit through the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At least they gave props to Jaws.

My point: the academy should consider having a separate categories for some genre films. The only problem with that is that it may open a can of worms since there are so many genres, and you have to categories movies into genres.

I just think they should at least have a category for Best Comedy (as the Golden Globes does - 'Best Comedy or Musical', and the Emmy's as well). But even then the snotty Academy would likely favour comedies based on their "an artistic merit" rather than which one was actually funnier and made them laugh more.

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I understand you're point. However, these are all "best picture" nominations. Life is Beautiful and Shakespeare in Love weren't nominated only because they were funny. They were overall excellent films with an artistic merit.

Aha. I got you know, I think. As such, There's Something About Mary should have been nominated.

I have never heard an audience laugh as I did at that film.

Silence of the Lambs won, and it should have since it's a brilliant film and Hopkins is incredible in that flick, but i would call that film a psychological thriller rather than a straight horror film. I mean, my mom would watch that film. She wouldn't sit through the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At least they gave props to Jaws.

My point: the academy should consider having a separate categories for some genre films. The only problem with that is that it may open a can of worms since there are so many genres, and you have to categories movies into genres.

It bothers me that the Globes do that. You always end up with problems.

I just think they should at least have a category for Best Comedy (as the Golden Globes does - 'Best Comedy or Musical', and the Emmy's as well). But even then the snotty Academy would likely favour comedies based on their "an artistic merit" rather than which one was actually funnier and made them laugh more.

I remember seeing "Snotty Academy 2 - Out of Kleenex" when I was in high school.

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I agree. There are a few horror films I would have put in for best picture. The Blair Witch Project (I know that I'm probably alone on that one) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining... One genre film - Silence of the Lambs - won in the 1990s but that decade mostly brought in the classical-music-and-foreign-backdrop-important-film kind of nominations.

I for one agree with you about The Blair Witch Project. The movie has garnered a lot of antipathy over the years, though I think it's far, far better than other horror faux-documentaries, like Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead.

I too like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. some poeple hate it, i know.

I would add to your list a Swedish film called "Let the Right One In."

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I for one agree with you about The Blair Witch Project. The movie has garnered a lot of antipathy over the years, though I think it's far, far better than other horror faux-documentaries, like Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead.

I hesitate to call Blair Witch innovative (I mean, the documentary-style of filming has been around in one form or another at least as far back as Hard Days Night), but at the same time it presented a rather original presentation, from the point of horror/thriller, and to be honest, all its successors have paled in comparison. I watched Paranormal Activity a few weeks ago, and while it had its moments, and probably is the best of Blair Witch's offspring, still didn't get my hair to stand on end as much as Blair Witch did. One of the things that these guys trying to make documentary-styled films get wrong is pacing. The movies seem to drag at points, and it's a lot harder to get a film where often nothing much is going on to stay compelling for 90-120 minutes. Blair Witch had excellent pacing, so while you felt like you were watching someone's home video, it never actually felt like watching someone's real home video.

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I hesitate to call Blair Witch innovative (I mean, the documentary-style of filming has been around in one form or another at least as far back as Hard Days Night), but at the same time it presented a rather original presentation, from the point of horror/thriller, and to be honest, all its successors have paled in comparison. I watched Paranormal Activity a few weeks ago, and while it had its moments, and probably is the best of Blair Witch's offspring, still didn't get my hair to stand on end as much as Blair Witch did. One of the things that these guys trying to make documentary-styled films get wrong is pacing. The movies seem to drag at points, and it's a lot harder to get a film where often nothing much is going on to stay compelling for 90-120 minutes. Blair Witch had excellent pacing, so while you felt like you were watching someone's home video, it never actually felt like watching someone's real home video.

that's because Blair broke new ground and did it well, you didn't know what to expect...it's hard for any movie after that to have the same impact, and you'll compare every movie using the same technique to Blair, they may actually be as good or better but the novelty is gone......

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It is pretty obvious why the Academy has expanded to ten nominees- an attempt to gain more buzz and spread the wealth- and many many movies get serious money tossed their way after the Awards. Even if the movie is well past a theater run, DVD rentals will shoot up.

I watch perhaps 50 movies per year in thaters, and think this is one of the weakest crops in years.

Two that I liked a lot get zero attention: Moon and Sin Nombre, both low budget movies with casts few have heard of.

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I hesitate to call Blair Witch innovative (I mean, the documentary-style of filming has been around in one form or another at least as far back as Hard Days Night), but at the same time it presented a rather original presentation, from the point of horror/thriller, and to be honest, all its successors have paled in comparison. I watched Paranormal Activity a few weeks ago, and while it had its moments, and probably is the best of Blair Witch's offspring, still didn't get my hair to stand on end as much as Blair Witch did. One of the things that these guys trying to make documentary-styled films get wrong is pacing. The movies seem to drag at points, and it's a lot harder to get a film where often nothing much is going on to stay compelling for 90-120 minutes. Blair Witch had excellent pacing, so while you felt like you were watching someone's home video, it never actually felt like watching someone's real home video.

I dunno if I'd call Blair Witch innovative either, but like I said, it's overall quite good, in my view.

And I know what you mean about Paranormal Activity. The damn thing just didn't scare me. I mean, not even a little.

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It is pretty obvious why the Academy has expanded to ten nominees- an attempt to gain more buzz and spread the wealth- and many many movies get serious money tossed their way after the Awards. Even if the movie is well past a theater run, DVD rentals will shoot up.
Specific results include the observation that a ten percent increase in critical approval garners an extra seven million dollars at the box office, an academy award nomination is worth six million dollars, the built in audience from sequels are worth eighteen million dollars, and R-rated movies are penalized twelve million dollars.
Random Academic Study

For $6 million, I'd go for it. $6 million, invested wisely, would mean $300,000 per year. You would never have to work again or your kids' education would be paid for.

Take the Oscars for that they are, an award show like any other.
That's a key point, MG. The Nobel Prize, Prix Goncourt and (modern) Olympics date from about 1900, the Pulitzer from 1912, and the Academy Awards from the late 1920s.

This prize-giving impulse is a creation of the late 19th century. Now, it is ubiquitous. The older awards try to be more prestigious by noting their longevity: "The 87th Annual Academy Awards" or "Super Bowl XXXVII".

It is hard not to conclude that, like European royalty, this signaling mechanism has its limits. By the time you get to King Charles XVIII, the system has lost its point.

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The question is: why is Hollywood doing this larger nomination pool now?

Edited by August1991
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I dunno if I'd call Blair Witch innovative either, but like I said, it's overall quite good, in my view.

And I know what you mean about Paranormal Activity. The damn thing just didn't scare me. I mean, not even a little.

didn't things scare different people...I vaguely recall a couple of slasher movies where the slasher was women, I just don't find women scary even with a knife...now spider movies I don't like to watch, way to intense for me, my brother no biggie he used to eat spiders for a laugh...
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The question is: why is Hollywood doing this larger nomination pool now?

The Oscar telecast has been suffering in the ratings. By expanding the Big Categories (like Best Picture), they're hoping to draw more viewers in.

To my mind, the Academy Awards are so Amero-centric as to be pointless. If we're going to have a big award for Best Picture, Best Director, etc., let's pay attention to truly international events like Cannes (though it is a film festival and not an awards ceremony). I've been dipping a lot into foreign films in the last few years, and it amazes me the incredible movies that are out there that people won't touch because they're subtitled or dubbed, instead going to trash like Transformers 2.

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The question is: why is Hollywood doing this larger nomination pool now?

Do you mean "why are they doing it now?" or "why didn't they do it sooner?"

There are some pretty obvious reasons for doing it now: declining interest in their awards being one, the financial benefits that nominees receive being another.

So if it's such a winning idea, why didn't they do it sooner?

Worry of damaging their brand. By taking this step, they are running the risk that audiences will see their award nomination as being less prestigious.

Out of all the movies released in a year, 5 nominees is a very exclusive group. 10 nominees is less so.

If there were 100 Best Picture nominees, would a best picture nomination represent anything at all in the minds of the ticket buying public? Doubtful.

Your study claims an Oscar nomination (major category, I'd assume...) is worth $6 million to a movie's bottom line... but that's based on many years of having just 5 nominees.

Will $6 million worth of audiences still go to see movies based on Academy Award nominations now that it's a less exclusive group? That $6 million worth of business is based on the idea that people view the awards as credible. Expanding their group of nominees carries the risk of making their nominations less credible in the minds of the public.

Of course, allowing their awards show to drift out of relevance to the tastes of the viewing public also carries the risk of damaging their brand.

-k

Edited by kimmy
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Will $6 million worth of audiences still go to see movies based on Academy Award nominations now that it's a less exclusive group?

Yes, though much of that revenue will come in DVD rentals. Very few movies are re-released at theaters.

I certainly have done this,,,, for example I went to see Frozen River last year becauswe Melissa Leo was nominated and it was well worth the look.

This year I'll be going to Crazy Heart because it is nominated, and has the excellent Jeff Bridges. Normally, I'd be projectile vomiting after being exposed to that much C&W music but perhaps it will be good.

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Out of all the movies released in a year, 5 nominees is a very exclusive group. 10 nominees is less so.

Some years it's hard to find 5 films worthy of the title. "Ghost" ? They would do better to have a guideline for number of pictures but not a hard rule. Some years there may be 8, some years there may be 4.

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Some years it's hard to find 5 films worthy of the title. "Ghost" ? They would do better to have a guideline for number of pictures but not a hard rule. Some years there may be 8, some years there may be 4.

I don't agree that every year does not produce at least 5 really good movies, that is not so hard to do or hard to identify them.

The problem is that the Academy refuses to acknowledge some excellent candidates because they just don't fit the business plan which controls the process of nomination.

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