Wherefore art thou, Harry Potter?
In 2009, after yet another Oscars ceremony with five best-picture nominees that no one had seen, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the decision to double the best picture pool to ten, thereby ensuring that at least a few blockbusters would make the cut each year (the snubs of “The Dark Night” and “Wall*E” were probably the deciding factor). Increasing the nominees to ten would – in theory – raise ratings, promote the industry in general and lead to more ticket sales.
For the first couple of years it seemed to pan out. In 2010, “Avatar” and “Up” – both top-ten grossing pictures – were best picture nominees, as were the “The Blind Side” and “District Nine.” Things seemed to be going exactly according to plan (although “Avatar,” the biggest money-making motion picture in history, lost to “The Hurt Locker,” which came in at 116 for the year). And last year, big money makers “Inception” and “Toy Story 3” made the list, with “The King’s Speech” – coming in at eighteen – taking the award.
This year, I have to believe that some of the bigwigs in the Academy were shuddering when the best nine picture nominees of 2011were announced (for reasons unkown, they dropped the number of nominees to nine this year):
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Tree of Life"
Some of these movies are still in theaters and will be sure to add to their totals, but as of today, “The Help” is the highest grossing of the bunch, coming in at thirteen.
Not exactly what the Academy was hoping for.
For a guy who only sees about ten movies a year (and most of them being of the “Puss in Boots” variety) I somehow managed to see five of the ten best picture nominees. A small miracle. And I can tell you straight out, none of them was any better – and some were worse – than ”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2."
The most successful franchise in motion picture history doesn’t even get one nod in the major categories? Not even an Alan Rickman best-supporting actor nomination?
Seems a little silly.
When “The Return Of the King” won best picture of 2003, it felt more like a “thanks for three successful movies” award than overt recognition that it was in fact the best movie of that year. Had the final “Harry Potter” movie been given the same honor this year, it would have earned the award. At the very least, it should have cracked the top ten.
But just like with the NCAA tournament, no matter how many you allow in the Big Dance, there will always be some on the bubble who are snubbed. This year, it was Harry Potter.
Maybe next year the Academy could expand the number of best picture nominees to twenty?