Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Best Pictures Nominees Need Best Director Nominations

For the 2008 year of films, there were five films nominated for Best Picture. They were Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Reader.

What was missing from that group was a big budget audience pleaser. That same year, critically acclaimed and commercially successful The Dark Knight was not nominated. In years past, films like Forrest Gump and Titanic would make the most money in a year and win the top award. People liked the thought of watching the Oscars and seeing the films they enjoyed competing for the top awards. While I saw all five of those films before the Oscars took place, I would say that The Reader should have been off of that list and The Dark Knight should have been on it. With five smaller films that many people did not see competing for Best Picture, audiences had little interest in seeing the Oscars.

Realizing that having only five Best Picture nominees may not allow a crowd pleaser to be nominated, the list was increased from five to ten nominees the next year. To correct the problem of too few nominees, they allowed too many nominees. Which ten films up for Best Picture in a single year, audiences knew that some of those films would have no real shot at winning the top prize.

But there was a bigger problem. While they doubled the number of Best Picture nominees, they continued to only have five nominees for Best Director.

Christopher Nolan, having been snubbed before for The Dark Knight, made another box office and critically successful film called Inception. Many people thought that Inception would be one of the top films competing for Best Picture. With ten films nominated for Best Picture, it appeared that the Oscars corrected an error before and allowed enough films to be nominated so people like Mr. Nolan wouldn’t be snubbed again.

Inception was nominated for Best Picture. However, it was not nominated for Best Director. This made Inception’s Best Picture nominee appear to be half-hearted and not serious.

Typically, when there were five films up for Best Picture, at least four of those films had a director who was also nominated. The fifth film may be a fun film that no one assumes would really win the top prize. Increasing the Best Picture nominees to ten and keeping the Best Director nominees at five allows five films to be almost written off they day that the nominations are announced.

There is one exception in recent years… Driving Miss Daisy, which was the Best Picture winner for the 1989 year of film. The director, Bruce Beresford, was not nominated for Best Director.

This year, there are nine films up for Best Picture, and four of them are not up for Best Director. One of the directors who was snubbed is two-time Best Director winner Steven Spielberg. When a director finds out that his or her film is not nominated for Best Director, he or she may just hope to win the top award and think, “It happened for Driving Miss Daisy. It could happen again.” Or the person may feel that they were taken out of the Best Picture race without the Best Director nomination.

If I could give two recommendations to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I would first recommend that they have the same films nominated for Best Picture automatically be nominated for Best Director. This way, audiences (and Oscar voters) won’t automatically dismiss the chances of a Best Picture nominee because the director did not get a nomination as well. Sure we may not think that films like Toy Story 3 will actually have a shot at the top prize, but we won’t dismiss films like Inception or War Horse due to a snub of the films’ directors. I also feel that while five films may be too few, nine or ten films are too many to have nominations for Best Picture. My second recommendation would be to reduce the number of films nominated for Best Picture (and Best Director)to seven.

My recommendations would give the audience pleasers a better shot at a Best Picture nomination, keep films from being dismissed from the Oscar race due not having a Best Director nomination, and keep a few films out of the Best Picture race that are unlikely to win.


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