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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences isn't really known for shaking things up. The last major change to the Oscars was eight years ago, when they added a Best Animated Feature category. So we think somebody must have slipped something into their drinks this year, because suddenly, the number of Best Picture nominations has been increased from 5 to 10.
So how does this affect you and your office Oscar pool? Well, no one's really sure yet. But theoretically, it could be a really cool thing. The five Best Picture nominations traditionally go to serious (and seriously big budget) dramas, with an occasional musical, comedy or quirky indie thrown into the mix. In 2007, the odd movie out was Juno; in 2006, it was Little Miss Sunshine; in 2004, Sideways; in 2003, Lost in Translation. What do all these movies have in common, besides being independent comedies? They lost to Big-Budget Serious Dramas. On the other hand, all of these films reached a much broader audience than most indies, thanks in part to the prestige of a Best Picture nod.
So if the Academy is feeling generous, those extra 5 slots could go to similarly "overlooked" films. This year, that category might include the critically acclaimed wartime film The Hurt Locker, the '60s love story An Education, and the gritty inspirational drama Precious.
Another possibility -- and one that's just as exciting -- is that non-dramas could finally get an Oscar showcase. This could mean nominations for stellar animated films like this year's Up (last year's WALL-E failed to get a Best Picture nod), adventure movies like Star Trek, comedies like Julie and Julia. Or even - dare we say it? - The Hangover. And category-defying films like Inglourious Basterds or the forthcoming Up in the Air. If studios knew that their non-dramas had a good shot at Oscar nominations, it could raise the bar for all kinds of movies -- imagine that!
No one knows yet which way the Academy -- or for that matter, its voters -- will go. Since categories aren't announced until early next year, we've got plenty of time for speculating. To start you off, The Golden Derby has posted three round-ups of critics' picks: here, here and here. Start loading up that Netflix que!
What's the best movie you've seen this year? Chime in below!