Entertainment behind the scenes
Back in June, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it would expand its list of best film Oscar contenders to 10 from five, then Academy President Sid Ganis told reporters doing so would “cast our net wider, and it casting that net wider, who knows what will turn up.” (Read about that here). Essentially, what that meant was the Academy wanted more populist fare among its nominees after years of seeing its membership favor low-budget adult dramas over box office hits like Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.”
Why is that important? The Academy knows that nominating popular movies helps boost the audience size for the Oscar telecast. Last year, when “Slumdog Millionaire” was on a roll at box offices ($141 million), more than 38 million people tuned in to the Oscars compared with 32 million the previous year when gritty drama “No Country For Old Men” ($74 million) won best film.
Luckily for the Academy, this year it has a box office smash and a critical hit on its hands in “Avatar” — the highest grossing movie of all time. But the film that pundits say is right behind is low-budget, art house flick “The Hurt Locker.” And heading into Tuesday’s Oscar nominations (read about them here), if you asked Oscar pundits who the top five films would have been, the would have said: “Inglourious Basterds,” “Up in the Air” and ”Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” The fifth slot may have been a toss-up. Then again, it generally always is.
The point is, all five of those films were nominated, and likely only the two — “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” — stand a chance at winning, pundits say. So, having 10 nominees may not have changed a thing. But that is what insiders think. You are the fans. What do you think? Did the 10 matter, and does it make for a more exciting show? Put another way, is having “District 9″ among the nominees, for instance, really going to change the thinking among the 6,000 or so Academy members? Maybe not. But how about “The Blind Side”? And do movies like those make you any more, or less, willing to tune in to the show on March 7?
So far , the movies with the biggest momentum behind them seem to be “Up in the Air”, with George Clooney, harrowing urban tale “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Quentin Tarantino’s summer box office hit war fantasy “Inglourious Basterds”, the much-talked about sci-fi epic “Avatar”, glittering musical “Nine”, Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” and British coming of age movie “An Education”.
All of you who’ve been reading Reuters and Fan Fare this past two weeks know that we are currently at the beginning of the film industry’s award season, and smack in the middle of the final of three festivals that launch Academy Award campaigns — at Telluride, Colorado, Venice, Italy, and here in Toronto, Canada.