Warning: the following contains cynical anti-Oscar sentiments.
This year, 10 films have been nominated for Best Picture. They are:
“Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
“The Blind Side” Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Producers
“District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
“An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
“The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers
“Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
“A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
“Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
“Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers
This list, double the usual number of nominees, illustrates more than ever how silly the whole notion of having a “Best Picture” (and, to a lesser extent, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, etc.) has become.
How can you compare war movies, animation, sci fi and contemporary dramas? Several of the nominees, in particular Up, The Blind Side, Avatar and Inglourious Basterds are fairly stereotypical of the type of film the Academy prefers — heavy-handed social drama and epic adventure or war movies (in the case of Avatar, a kind of mixture of the two!) These are overwhelmingly the kind of films that predictably win Best Picture.
The world, fortunately, has grown too decentralized and complex to narrow things down this way. Let the Oscars persist as an anachronistic spectacle, but let’s not mistake this ritual for having much to do with movies in the contemporary world.