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The Oscars’ Big 10: Will more Best Picture nominees devalue the award?

For the first time since 1943, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has broken tradition and expanded the ballot for Best Picture from five nominees to 10.

At this year’s Academy Awards, no film will be left behind, said Timothy Gray in Variety. For the first time since 1943, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has broken tradition and expanded the ballot for Best Picture from five nominees to 10. Too many recent Oscar winners have been challenging, little-seen films such as No Country for Old Men, and the Academy wants to spread the wealth and embrace the industry’s “whole spectrum.” This year’s potential winners range from the dark comedy A Serious Man to the inspirational sports saga The Blind Side. Diversity is great, but the Academy’s reasons for expanding the category are not, said Neal Gabler in the Los Angles Times. The Academy seems more concerned with sustaining ratings for the awards-ceremony broadcast than with making sure worthy films get the attention they deserve. “It wouldn’t be the first time that the pursuit of money trumped the pursuit of quality.” So what does the Academy do? Pander to the masses. I call it “cultural inflation—a growing number of opportunities for the less deserving to get a taste of victory, as part of a growing aversion to disappointing anyone.” With this colossal blunder, the Academy runs the risk of devaluing the standard it’s supposed to set.

The Academy has made plenty of foolish mistakes during its 82 years, but I don’t think this is one of them, said Richard Corliss in Time. The five predicted front-runners—Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up in the Air—are “still the top contenders.” But, really, it’s a “two-horse race” between an indie war drama, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, and the most expensive movie ever made, James Cameron’s Avatar.  To make the big night even more interesting, Bigelow and Cameron were once married, said Dave Karger in Entertainment Weekly. It’s a battle of the exes. Just you wait: This year’s Academy Awards are going to give us “some of the most exciting showdowns in years.”

And the nominees are …

AvatarDirected by James Cameron

The Blind Side Directed by John Lee Hancock

District 9 Directed by Neill Blomkamp

An Education Directed by Lone Scherfig

The Hurt Locker Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Inglourious Basterds Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by SapphireDirected by Lee Daniels

A Serious Man Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Up Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

Up in the Air Directed by Jason Reitman

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