When we first posted about this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, we objected to a couple of exclusions (seriously, you guys, if you haven’t seen Blue Valentine yet, we’re not quite sure how else to sell you on it). But, in general, the ten films nominated this year are all solid choice. And though it’s a change that some have objected to — loudly — we really do like the ballooning of the list from five nominees to ten (and lest we forget, five was only the rule from 1944 on — in the ’30s, they’d nominate up to 12 films for the Best Picture honor). Sure, it makes the list comparatively unwieldy, and adds a few minutes to the awards telecast, which can be a bit of a long haul to begin with. But it allows traditionally snubbed titles — like genre movies, smaller titles, comedies, and animated features — to get a little bit of extra recognition.
Were it not for the ten-nomination rule, we probably wouldn’t have seen Best Picture nominations for Inception, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, or The Kids are All Right, and since those are some of our favorite films of the year, we’d have been looking at a far less interesting list. The fact of the matter is, too often there are more than five really great movies in a year — or the Academy simply recognizes the wrong damn movies. If the ten-nominee rule had been in place over the last decade, for example, we might have seen Best Picture nominations for some really great films that got passed over. Take a look at just a few of them after the jump.
Inception director Christopher Nolan’s big break came with this startlingly clever wind-up toy of a movie — it plays tricks on you, yes, but it always plays fair, and one of the pleasures of Nolan’s noir-soaked filmmaking is in observing (even on repeat viewings) how ingeniously he manages to weave the convoluted assemblage of flashbacks, parallel structures, and backwards progressions into a lean, mean, brilliant package. On a much smaller scale, it’s a dry run for the mind games of Inception. It’s a shame that Memento didn’t get the same Oscar recognition — though, to their credit, the Academy did nominate it for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay.