The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that the Oscars Best Pictures category has been set at 10 nominees, starting with the 94th Academy Awards. This is part of an initiative for greater representation and inclusion at the Oscars, with Academy CEO Dawn Hudson releasing the following statement: "While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board. The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
For years now there's been increasing call for the Oscars Best Picture category to have 10 nominees. The Academy officially expanded the Best Picture category to that number in 2009, following backlash to Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight being left out the previous year. However, the Academy quickly changed things around with the voting system. Instead of going with a "one vote, most votes wins" system, the Best Picture nominees are now ranked by each Academy voter, and the films that cross a certain threshold of votes are then qualified for Best Picture. That change allows for the Oscars to justify years where the Best Picture nominees still fall in a range more like 5 - 8 films, claiming the films excluded somehow didn't "merit" in some way.
There's been criticism of that system of voting in that it leaves room for too much bias in the voting system, with certain voices being elevated, while others don't get heard. Having to fill a consistent slot of 10 films would arguably let smaller (minority, LGBTQ+) or non-traditional (blockbuster, or geek) film communities find themselves represented in the Oscar Best Picture category.
You can find the full announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, below. There have also been some major changes to the:
REPRESENTATION AND INCLUSION STANDARDS FOR OSCARS® ELIGIBILITY TO BE ESTABLISHED
BEST PICTURE CATEGORY SET AT 10 NOMINEES FOR THE 94TH OSCARS
Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative, Academy Aperture 2025. This phased initiative will further the Academy’s ongoing efforts to advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community. The first phase of the initiative outlines specific goals for the Oscars® and Academy governance, membership, and workplace culture.
“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
“Through the dedication, focus, and concerted effort of our Board of Governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed the goals of our A2020 initiative. But to truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” said Academy President David Rubin. “Academy leadership and our Board are committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”
The Academy will encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the film community. To ensure more diverse representation, and in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy will create a task force of industry leaders, appointed by David Rubin and that will include governor and A2020 Committee chair DeVon Franklin, to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31, 2020. Eligibility for films in consideration for the 93rd Academy Awards® (2020) will not be impacted.
Beginning with the 94th Academy Awards (2021), the Best Picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a fluctuating number of nominations from year to year. The Academy will also implement a quarterly viewing process through the Academy Screening Room, the streaming site for Academy members, also starting with the 94th Academy Awards. By making it possible for members to view films released year-round, the Academy will broaden each film’s exposure, level the playing field, and ensure all eligible films can be seen by voting members.