Best Picture Oscar changes: Motion Picture Academy’s board of governors enacts new rule

Oscar statuettes on display on February 23, 2011.
Oscar statuettes on display on February 23, 2011.
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

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Until the early morning of next Jan. 24, most people won’t know how many movies will be eligible for the Best Picture Oscar. That’s the result of a rule change the Motion Picture Academy’s board of governors announced today.

For a while, Academy voters chose from five Best Picture Oscar nominees. A couple of years ago the governing body expanded the field to 10, partly in response to complaints that the top category included too many films that too few people had seen.

Then some critics suggested that making room for popular movies diluted the value of the Best Picture Oscar. For the 84th Academy Awards, preferential voting will determine as few as five or as many as 10 Best Picture nominees.

Academy pooh-bahs hope this latest rule change will result in a Goldilocks choice — neither too large nor too small. In a statement, Oscars officials expressed hope that the new approach would add an element of surprise to the proceedings. That’s no small factor in an awards season that’s become so crowded some film lovers fear the Academy Awards have lost some of their luster.

Next year’s show takes place Feb. 26 at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.