Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a change in the rules for the Oscars, which could open the door to more popular movies being considered for Best Picture. Returning to rules it used up until 1943, the Academy will be doubling the number of nominees to ten. The change already has some wondering if Star Trek could be on that list.
Academy’s big change
The announcement came this morning in a press conference. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis stated:
After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year. The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner – but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009.
Star Trek buzz begins
This big news reverberated around the entertainment community. Industry trades The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both cite how the five-movie limit kept the more popular films out of contention. Variety notes:
Acad’s decision will undoubtedly add heat to next year’s Oscar campaigning, especially in a year when no obvious front-runners have emerged in the first half. The move also comes on the heels of biz complaints that the Acad’s rule of limiting the pic nominees to the top five vote-getters elbows out some of the more popular titles, such as last year’s B.O. champ "The Dark Knight."
Other’s have jumped to the logical conclusion that this means the current number one movie is now in the game. EW ran a very early "Oscar Watch" column today, which notes:
I’d say this could really help the chances of some more commercially popular films, which are often edged out of the running by typical "Academy films" like The Reader or Frost/Nixon. Certainly The Dark Knight and WALL•E would have made a top 10 Academy list this year—will we now see Up and Star Trek on the Oscar ballot?
E has an article ‘Star Trek for Oscar?‘, which notes:
The move could mean typically overlooked genres like sci-fi, comedy and animation could get a crack at the big prize—and could spell good news for this year’s biggest hits, Star Trek, The Hangover and Up.
Time Magazine is also talking Trek for Oscar:
If today’s announcement did anything concrete, it certified a Big Picture nomination for Pixar’s Up and maybe — I mean, why not? — Star Trek. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up on Oscar-nomination morning and hear, for once, "And the nominees for Best Picture are … movies you’ve seen"?
And SciFi Wire ran a story asking "Could the Academy’s doubled Best Picture category help sci-fi nab an Oscar?", which notes:
The move comes on the heels of complaints that the Academy’s rule of limiting the Best Picture nominees to the top five vote-getters elbows out some of the more popular titles, such as last year’s blockbuster, The Dark Knight.
The rules change could help some of this year’s contenders, such as Star Trek, which otherwise could be overlooked for consideration.
The LATimes is running a poll on ‘What fanboy film might get a best picture nod‘, and Star Trek is currently leading with 30.9%.
Does Star Trek have a chance?
Although genre films (including past Star Trek films) have often been nominated for technical awards at the Oscars (editing, sound, effects, etc), but it is rare for them to be acknowledged in the actor, writer, director and Best Picture categories. One recent notable exception was the three Lord of the Rings films, which were all nominated for Best Picture, with the last one Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King winning in 2003. The last science fiction film to be nominated was E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in 1982.
The Star Trek movie is currently #1 for 2009 for the domestic box office, and will likely end the hear in (or very near) the top 5. But it has also been one of the best reviewed films of 2009. The Rotten Tomatoes Rating for the film is 95%, which is higher than all of the 2008 Best Picture nominees, including the winner Slumdog Millionaire (which was at 94%). The Dark Knight, which is being cited as an example of a popular film that didn’t make the grade due to the previous rules, also had a 94% rating. The rating for Pixar’s Up, which soon pass Star Trek in sales, is 97%, so it too should be considered a contender for the 10 nominee list.
With all that in mind, it looks like Star Trek has a pretty good chance to get on that list of 10 films. Of course the year is only half over and the ‘oscar movies’ tend to be in the Fall/Christmas season. As for winning Best Picture, well that is probably not going to happen, but JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof (the producers of Star Trek) should certainly start thinking about what to wear to the Oscars in 2010.
We will find out in Feb 2010
The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2. The Oscar® ceremony honoring films for 2009 will again take place at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.