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Perhaps in an effort to grab more viewers, the the Academy Awards is doubling the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis said at a news conference that the academy's board of governors made the decision to expand the slate. Ganis said the decision will open the field up to more worthy films.
Someone with a cynical eye on Nielsen ratings could argue that with twice as many movies in the running for best picture, twice as many fans will care to watch to all the way to the end of the show, when best picture is announced.
The latest Academy Awards, where "Slumdog Millionaire" won best picture, was rated slightly higher than the previous year, but was down severely from just ten years ago -- of course, comparing 2009 host Hugh Jackman to 90's mainstay Billy Crystal could explain that.
Then again, perhaps it was nostalgia which spurred the move, which will be a return to Oscar traditions of the 1930s and '40s, when 10 nominees were common.
Ganis said the board looked at last year's slate of films and decided there was room for more in the top category. "We nominated five, but there were many other great films last year," he said.
Among last year's most acclaimed movies was the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," which wound up snubbed.
The change takes effect with next year' Oscars on March 7, 2010.
Ganis said the broader field also might make room for documentaries, foreign-language films, animated movies and even comedies, which typically do not fare well at the Oscars.
"Everybody says the academy will never nominate a comedy," Ganis said. "Well, maybe we will."
Maybe we'll watch.