The Oscars for most of our lives always nominated five films.Then, in a throwback to the 1930s and 1940s, ten films were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2009 and 2010, with winners: “The Hurt Locker” (2009) (not “Avatar”, discussed here) and “The King’s Speech” (2010) (not “Black Swan”, discussed in many adult forums Congressman Wiener probably frequents).
This week, the Academy decided that a fixed 10 nominees is just plain stupid. Starting next year, anywhere from five to 10 can be nominated. Basically, if there are nine really good movies in a year, they don’t need to add crap such as 2009’s very disappointing “A Serious Man” (by far, the Coen Brothers’ worst film) to make it 10.
If we’re making changes, why not go back to what they did in the Oscars in 1929? There was no Best Picture. Instead, there was a Most Outstanding Production (MOP) won by “Wings” (no, not that heartwarming classic TV show “Wings”) and “Most Artistic Quality of Production” (MAQ) won by “Sunrise” (which still appears on Top 100 All-Time Movie lists). If the real reason the Oscars exist is to bring people to movies, why not award a movie audiences actually see with a movie audiences should see?
To explore this, let’s look at “The Lord of the Rings”:
2001: “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” loses to “A Beautiful Mind.” With the two-part system, LOTR could win the MOP award and “A Beautiful Mind” could win the MAQ award.
2002: “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers” loses to “Chicago”. I would give the MOP award to “Gangs of New York” and the MAQ award to “The Pianist.” I’d leave out “Chicago.”
2003: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” wins. I would give the MOP award to LOTR and the MAQ award to “Lost in Translation.”
With the Academy giving production awards separate from artistic ones, who knows what would happen? One serious question though if you’re out there Bryan Ingram: What would win in 2000: “Gone in 60 Seconds” or “Gladiator”? Life is filled with these very difficult decisions. (I’d give the MOP to “Gladiator” and the MAQ to “Traffic” — sorry, Bryan).