When Academy Award season rolls around next year, the race for Best Picture will be more heated than any race in the past 60 years.
Why? Ten films will be nominated for the "Best Film of the Year" instead of the usual 5. Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis said widening the pool of potential pics is not a new idea -- it's actually a throwback to days gone by.
"After more than six decades," Ganis said. "The Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year."
For more than a decade during the 1930s and 1940s, the best picture category featured more than 5 films, and in 9 years there were 10 nominees.
Said Ganis: "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 the board looked at last year's slate of films and decided there was room for more in the top category: "We nominated five, but there were many other great films last year."
Many critics said The Dark Knight, featuring the haunting performance of the late Heath Ledger, was unfairly omitted, while little seen films such as The Reader and Frost/Nixon were nominated:
"In discussions about this we talked about what have happened," Ganis said. "And I would not be telling you the truth if I said the words 'Dark Knight' did not come up."
Ganis believes broadening the field will possibly allow documentaries, foreign-language films, animated movies and even comedies to be nominated for the top prize. But when it's all said and done, Ganis said one thing will remain the same: "The final outcome will be the same -- one best picture winner."