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Five will get you ten

Posted by Mark Feeney  January 25, 2011 10:55 AM

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Bob Fosse.jpg(Left, Bob Fosse accepting the 1972 best director Oscar for "Cabaret." Among the nominees he defeated that year was -- well, hmm, there's no way getting around this . . . nobody's perfect, after all! . . . Francis Ford Coppola, for "The Godfather.")

So you still resent the Academy's decision, starting with last year's awards, to double the number of best picture nominees from five to ten. You think it diluted the value (such as it was) of said honor. You think so desperate an attempt to broaden the popular appeal of the broadcast by adding a few commercial hits to the mix was hopelessly transparent. You miss the clarity of having five "real" nominees.

So? So just look at the five best director nominees. This year they would be Darren Aronofsky, for "Black Swan"; David O. Russell, for "The Fighter"; Tom Hooper, for "The King's Speech"; David Fincher, for "The Social Network"; and the Coens, for "True Grit." Now it's true, Movie Nation isn't privy to the Academy's voting results. That said, it would feel fully confident wagering the entire contents of the Boston Newspaper Guild pension plan that those were also the top five vote getters for best picture. There would be your best picture nominees under the old system.

Now you may think, and I may think, that all five of the other best picture nominees this year -- "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "127 Hours," "Toy Story 3," and "Winter's Bone -- are superior to at least one of the others (not to point an anti-royalist finger at "The King's Speech," or anything), but that gets into the whole issue of what a bunch of insecure dolts academy voters are. Life may or may not be a cabaret, old chum, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences surely is.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.

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