The Academy Awards’ new best picture voting policy was designed to ensure that only the truly superior movies received Oscar nominations, and that we didn’t get an excessive list of 10 by default.

So, with the change in effect, the nominated films in that category were shared this morning. And we wound up with ... nine.

It was like the world shifted, wasn’t it?

View Photo Gallery: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revealed its nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.

For those who missed the announcement, the following movies earned enough No. 1 votes to become best picture contenders: “War Horse,” “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Moneyball,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and “The Tree of Life.” (And, for the record, all pretty close to what I predicted yesterday, except that I went with eight instead of nine.)

So was the change really worth it?

At the moment, I would argue no. As anyone with a basic understanding of math can tell you, nine isn’t that much different than 10.

All of the listed best picture nominees above are worthy contenders, without question. But if there had been room for just one more, we might have seen another equally deserving film in the best picture mix: a “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” or “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” maybe the sadly shut-out “50/50” or “Drive,” or even (I’ll go ahead and say it Potterphiles, because I know you’re thinking it) “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

Indeed if you look at that list, only one motion picture — “The Help” — stands among the top 20 films at the 2011 box office. The original concept for expanding the best picture field from five to 10 was to make room so that more widely viewed, popular and well-made fare could break through the best picture glass ceiling.

It’s fair to say that a film like “Tree of Life” — which I really liked, by the way — does not accomplish that goal. So I say just go with 10 nominees. Some years are going to be lackluster and you’ll wind up nominating “The Blind Side.” That’s just how it goes. But if you’re going to create a bunch of drama around the number of nominees and then come up one shy of what has become the typical total, that just feels like a letdown, especially when it’s clear that there were enough really good movies this year to justify a top 10 list.

What do you think? Was this a change for the good, or should the Academy revert back to 10 — or, to go even more old school, five — best picture nominations next year? Post a comment to share your thoughts.


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