The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced today that beginning with the 94th ceremony (honoring films released in 2021) the field for Best Picture will once again be expanded to ten total nominees. This is a return to the line-up that was implemented for the 82nd and 83rd ceremonies before the current rule was enacted allowing between five to ten nominees.
The current rule requires films to be listed as number one on 5% of all counted ballots in order to be considered for a Best Picture nomination. From the 84th ceremony to this year’s 92nd ceremony, there were eight or nine nominees; this means that we’re going to be seeing one or two nominees that are essentially just fillers (not to discredit the films or their quality, just analyzing the numbers and stats). Looking at the 82nd and 83rd ceremonies, those films were likely (and this is solely based upon the number of nominations received and the general reaction to their Best Picture nomination) The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009), A Serious Man (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2009), and probably Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)—although I tend to think that the 83rd ceremony would still have had ten nominees had the current rule been in place at the time.
One thing this does for Oscar prognosticators is make predicting Best Picture a bit nicer because it means not having to add “Here are my predictions if there are ten/nine/eight/seven/six/five nominees…”
That change, however, is still a year and half out. We still have whatever the rest of 2020 looks like and the 93rd ceremony to get through. In the past—and usually something I just did for myself—I’d make a list of upcoming Oscar contenders and put together both a year-in-advance and six-months-in-advance set of predictions for all categories. It’s the same idea behind sports writers putting out their final standings predictions before a new season kicks off. Really, I did it for me because it was fun. I have to review what movies are expected to still get a 2020 release, so if I’m able to get that info cobbled together I hope to post that some time in July. Then as the Oscar season moves forward and end-of-year awards are bestowed, that list will evolve (I’d like for all changes to be viewable, so I’m also looking into options for that).
Keep in mind that I am not a good predictor of the Oscars. My focus has primarily been on Oscar history, trends, and stats; you’d think that would give me a leg up, but all it does is make things more confounding, because I’m always looking for the historic caveats and exceptions that might disprove a trend instead of taking the current Oscar race on face value. Whatever movie won Best Picture last year will not (usually) have an impact on what will win Best Picture this year: each year is its own animal with new pieces and different backstories and unpredictable social and political environments. Nevertheless, I have fun making predictions—probably because I really don’t care if I’m right or wrong—and because this is an Oscar site (and predictions are a necessary part of the Oscars), having that as a part of the whole seems fitting.
Anyhow: this upcoming 93rd ceremony, we’ve got five to ten Best Picture nominees; starting with the 94th ceremony, there will be ten nominees.