Ten pictures released in 2009 will vie for the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture of the year according to a ukaze from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The decision consciously hearkens back to the Golden Age, when ten finalists was the rule for a while. In a year like 1939, of course, you could have ten nominees and still complain that some deserving films were left out. In some recent years, however, whether you could field ten credible nominees was subject to debate.
There are two reasons to make this change. One is to allow studios to promote more films as Academy Award Nominees, whether while still in release or for DVD purposes. The more likely reason, I think, is to boost the ratings of the Oscar telecast by giving more people a rooting interest in the result. The most likely result, I imagine, is the inclusion of more pop films of the kind that get excluded by the annual December rush for prestige. That's more likely than more independent films making the cut. This could be good or bad. A year ago, it might have meant The Dark Knight getting the nomination I thought it deserved. This year, ...what? If the list becomes less "elitist" than it supposedly is already, I tremble at the prospect.