With the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ continued effort to expand the diversity of their membership, they have decided once again to have ten nominees for Best Picture; dropping the rolling scale based on number one votes. What would have been the 10th, and in some cases, the ninth or 10th films nominated? Would it have led to a more diverse set of nominees or just more of the same?
It’s important to remember that after “The Dark Knight” snub in 2008, the Academy expanded the Best Picture lineup in hopes of getting more populous films into the Best Picture lineup. The results were mixed at best, with popular animated films “Up” (2009), “District 9” (2009), and “Toy Story 3” (2010) able to make the lineup. Will a return to 10 bring the Academy the diversity it’s looking for?
Below I take a look at what most likely would have received a coveted Best Picture nomination considering Oscar nominations/wins, industry awards (PGA, SAG, DGA, etc.), BAFTA and Golden Globe wins and, critic/festival support. The answers may seem obvious for some years, but for others, it’s not that simple.
2011 Best Picture Winner: “The Artist”
Also Nominated: “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” and “War Horse”
The Contenders: “Bridesmaids,” “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo,” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
“Bridesmaids” was a critical and box office hit earning two Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Melissa McCarthy) and Best Original Screenplay. The film received the same nominations at the BAFTAs. While this film doesn’t seem like the typical Best Picture fair, it did receive industry support from PGA, WGA, and SAG where it received a coveted Best Ensemble nomination, something “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” did not.
2012 Best Picture Winner: “Argo”
Also Nominated: “Amour,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “Zero Dark Thirty”
The Contenders: “Flight,” “The Master,” and “Skyfall”
“Skyfall” may not seem like a natural pick for the Best Picture lineup until you consider this was the most successful Bond film, and the Academy decided to celebrate Bond’s 50th Anniversary at the ceremony. The film won two Oscars, Best Original Song (“Skyfall”) and Best Sound Editing (tied with “Zero Dark Thirty”), and was nominated for an additional three: Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Mixing. But it’s not just Oscar nominations and box office that would’ve placed the film into a top 10 lineup: it’s the film’s industry support reaping a PGA and SAG win for Best Stunt Ensemble and a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem). But the film’s ace card was its BAFTA win for Best British Film over the presumed favorite, “Les Miserables”. The film also won the BAFTA for Best Original Score along with receiving an additional six nominations.
2013 Best Picture Winner: “12 Years a Slave”
Also Nominated: “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”
The Contenders: “August: Osage County,” “Blue Jasmine,” and “Frozen”
This one’s tough especially with a film in the top nine that many critics and pundits believed at the time did not deserve a Best Picture nomination (“Philomena”). Taking that into consideration, it’s hard to select a film like “August: Osage County” or “Blue Jasmine” when they should have had enough support to bypass that particular film, which is why I believe the 10th contender would’ve been the mega-hit, “Frozen”. It won Best Animated Film and Best Original Song for its massive hit and a new standard in the Disney songbook, “Let it Go.” Both the film and song swept the award season except for the Golden Globe loss for Best Original Song. Since the Academy as a whole vote on the nominees for Best Picture, the visibility of “Frozen” would’ve made it a contender.
”Foxcatcher” & “Wild” (2014)
2014 Best Picture Winner: “Birdman”
“Foxcatcher” is the easiest addition to the 2014 Best Picture lineup it received five Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Steve Carrell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Director (Bennet Miller), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Miller and Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War,” 2018) are the only two directors to receive a nomination without their film making the Best Picture lineup. “Wild” received two Oscar nominations: Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon) and Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern. The biopic did have more than just the acting branch’s support as the film did receive a WGA Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s a shame the film didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination as it would’ve made Witherspoon a double nominee as one of the film’s producers.
“Carol” & “Inside Out” (2015)
2015 Best Picture Winner: “Spotlight”
“Carol” was easily the ninth film scoring six Oscar nominations including Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Under the rolling scale, “Carol” received the most nominations without receiving a Best Picture nomination. In a top 10, “Carol” would’ve easily been in the lineup. “Inside Out” won Best Animated Film and received a Best Original Screenplay nomination. “Inside Out” swept the Best Animated Film awards and the screenplay was consistently nominated. A unique animated hit, with lots of industry support and critical support, it would’ve broken through a cluttered field, along the same lines as “Toy Story 3” and “Up” had before.
”Nocturnal Animals” (2016)
2016 Best Picture Winner: “Moonlight”
Ugh…If ever a year justified a rolling scale of nominations it was 2016. In a top 10, it’s not always a film that receives the most nominations that will occupy a Best Picture spot. “Nocturnal Animals,” the second film by fashion designer Tom Ford, only scored one Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon). The film got off to a great start scoring three Golden Globe nominations, including a surprise win for Best Supporting Actor (Aaron-Taylor Johnson). It gets the 10th spot because of its nine BAFTA nominations and, again, their overlapping voting body with the Academy.
”I, Tonya” (2017)
2017 Best Picture Winner: “The Shape of Water”
“I, Tonya” won Best Supporting Actress (Alison Janney) and received two additional nominations: Best Actress (Margot Robbie) and Best Film Editing. Keep in mind that when the Oscars took place in 2018 they were delayed a week due to the Winter Olympics. “I, Tonya,” about figure skater Tonya Harding, who knew of the attack on fellow competitor Nancy Kerrigan, is one of the most infamous events in Olympic history. A Winter Olympics doesn’t pass without a mention, making two weeks in 2018 practically an FYC for the film. It also managed to get PGA & WGA nominations as well.
“If Beale Street Could Talk” & “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018)
2018 Best Picture Winner: “Green Book”
One of the easiest top 10 lists to have rounded out the coveted Best Picture lineup. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” had the perfect mix of nominations. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” received two acting nominations: Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy) and Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) along with a Best Adapted Screenplay. And “If Beale Street Could Talk” won Best Supporting Actress (Regina King) and received two other nominations, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. These were easily the next on the list to be nominated despite the director nomination for “Cold War.” I think the surprise WGA win for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” shows that there was more industry support for Marielle Heller’s film than we might’ve thought.
“The Two Popes” (2019)
2019 Best Picture Winner: “Parasite”
“The Two Popes” performed solidly throughout the season scoring four Golden Globe nominations (including Best Drama Film) and five BAFTA nominations (including Best British Picture). It’s the latter that tips the scale since the BAFTA’s do have some overlap in membership with the Academy. Also, the film scored three Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Jonathan Pryce), Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Best Adapted Screenplay. But what pushes “The Two Popes” over the top is the Netflix factor. Last year was Netflix’s coming out party at the Oscars as the streaming service received two Best Picture nominations (“Marriage Story” and “The Irishman”). A third Netflix film in the top 10 is an easy choice, despite “Knives Out” impressive box office and late surge in the race.
Do you agree with these choices? Are you excited that the Academy is going back to 10 nominees for Best Picture? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Amanda and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and film on Twitter at @msamandaspears