Fix the Oscars

For the first year since the Academy expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominations, I actually watched all 10 nominated films before the Oscars. And in a year where there were a number of excellent films, my main takeaway was that the system of naming one winner in each category is fundamentally broken.

Instead of treating one winner and a number of losers, the Academy should think of the Oscars more like the Peabody Awards, where it honors the various achievements. The ceremony could give some films or individual achievements additional recognition or palmares, but could give each recognized film, performance, and craft some level of recognition.

In a year like this, where the stupendous Oppenheimer cast a shadow over everything else, this would help provide more attention to other deserving films. Being able to say, provide a top-tier award to both Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone, and secondary recognition to other lead actresses would allow for more equitable recognition of awards.

The way that this should work is that each category would have up to 5 nominees (or 10 nominees) for Best Picture. Categories would not be padded out to have 5 nominees in each, but films would need to have a certain amount of recognition to obtain an Oscar recognition. Further voting from the recognized films would allow additional recognition for extraordinary or outstanding achievements.

This wouldn’t necessarily help films like Killers of the Flower Moon that should have been an 8-hour miniseries instead of a 3+ hour film. (Seriously, the story of Killers needed more room to breathe and demonstrate the amount of time passing. It could have told the story more fully, developed all of the characters much better – particularly among the Osage community as a miniseries. That series would have wrapped up every Emmy Award).

But this would allow voters to recognize films like Oppenheimer that are outstanding technical achievements as well as perfect, normal-length films, like the exquisite Past Lives and not force voters to choose between films with astoundingly bonkers elements like Poor Things and broadly popular (yet far deeper than necessary) Barbie. And having tiers would allow the best achievements to have a full-size, real Oscar, while the recognized films at lower tiers would get miniature statuettes.

While I’m sure the entertainment media would hate losing the straightforward narrative of winners and losers, this system would more fairly recognize the fact that even receiving a nomination is an honor. But the upside of seeing more speeches and more positivity would probably make more people like more films.

Andrew Raff @andrewraff