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Oscars Expands Best Picture Category To 10

Could this open the door for more blockbuster films like ‘Star Trek’ or even ‘Harry Potter’?

It just got a little easier to become an Oscar-nominated film, and that could be to the extreme benefit of “Star Trek.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is expanding its Oscars Best Picture category from four films to 10. While it’s unlikely they would ever admit it, speculation is that the Academy is trying to reverse declining ratings and interest in the Oscars by providing a vehicle not only for critically-acclaimed films to be recognized, but blockbusters as well.

Nominating blockbusters along with the traditional Oscar fare could generate more interest in the awards program which for the last several years has had to fight with the MTV Movie Awards — an awards system that tends to honor more popular films — for viewers in key young adult demographics.

That means films like “Star Trek,” “Up” and even the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” which would’ve had almost no chance of getting recognized by the Academy in major categories such as Best Picture suddenly have a shot.

But does expanding the category dilute the prestige that goes with becoming a film nominated for Best Picture?

In the early years of the Oscars, between five and 10 films were honored for Best Picture nods. In fact, in both 1934 and 1935, there were 12 nominees, according to the Academy.

“After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said Academy president Sid Ganis in a release. “The final outcome, of course, will be the same: one Best Picture winner. But the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009.”

This will be an interesting experiment, and a good one if genre films can actually make the cut. Many felt that “The Dark Knight” should’ve been among the nominees in the 2008 film year, something even mentioned by Oscar host Hugh Jackman in his opening number earlier this year.

“Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going [to] allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” Ganis said. “I can’t wait to see what that list of 10 looks like when the nominees are announced in February.”

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