Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: Five to Ten for 2008

Welcome back to weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. Five to Ten is the fifth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed.

On the heels of the Academy’s announcement that this coming year will feature anywhere from five to ten films in the Best Picture list, I thought to look back at the most recent decade to determine what number of films would have ultimately earned a slot in the top category. Obviously, this is all guesswork and designed, above anything, to be fun. In the new system, films will need to earn at least 5% of the first-place votes. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments!

Five to Ten for 2008

The actual lineup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

The locks: The above five.

The benefactors: This year is probably the main reason that the ten-wide system was instituted. This could have been avoided if two highly acclaimed films had been recognized: The Dark Knight and Wall-E, which managed eight and six nominations, respectively, even without making the top category.

The longshots: Three films might have come close to being included in the top category, though they would presumably have all missed the boat for different reasons. Revolutionary Road was the less popular Kate Winslet film of the year, and may have depressed too many voters. The Wrestler won acclaim for star Mickey Rourke but didn’t even manage a writing nomination, so it clearly didn’t have universal support. Golden Globe Comedy/Musical winner Vicky Cristina Barcelona certainly garnered some votes, but probably not enough over the other candidates.

And the nominees could have been… The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E

Does it change the winner? Maybe. “Slumdog Millionaire” sure was all the rage in 2008, but so was “The Dark Knight.” They didn’t have all that many chances to compete together in the same race, and while “Slumdog” probably still would have prevailed, Batman would have given it quite a run for its money.

Which lineup is better? I know that most filmgoers would have been relieved to see the two previously mentioned films nominated alongside with the puzzling inclusion of “The Reader,” and I think it would have been a much more accurate reflection of the year in popular cinema.

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