The “big 10” and how directors react to it.


Since the Academy announced that there would be 10 best picture nominees this year rather than the typical five, the Baguette’s been keeping tabs on how filmmakers feel. The reaction, in a word: mixed.

At a luncheon for the Jane Campion film “Bright Star” early in the fall, Bill Pohlad, co-founder with Bob Berney of Apparition, the new company distributing the film, said he was still on the fence. Mr. Pohlad – who’s a very smart guy – said he was confused about the math. He wondered, Would they need logarithm charts?

Mr. Berney said it was an odd year for the Academy to start the practice when 30 to 40 percent fewer movies were being made. He said he realized the Academy was “trying to be inclusive of bigger films,” like “The Dark Knight,”but worried that the move will dilute interest in the prize. Still, he conceded, “there’s a good side to it for films like ‘Bright Star’ that might get room to breathe and have a life.”

Ms. Campion, one of only three women ever nominated for an Oscar for best director (Lina Wertmuller and Sofia Coppola are the others), said she didn’t see a good side. “Like 10’s like what? One of 10. One out of five is quite different.”

And Robert Siegel, the director of “Big Fan” was a bit more adamant.

“I don’t like it,” he told us at the Gothams, where he won breakthrough director. “The idea that those other five slots are going to open up to really left-field choices, I don’t think it will.” He thought the additional spots would just get filled by films that just missed the cut in previous years, although he said movies he loved, like “Inglourious Basterds” and “A Serious Man,” “have a shot at 10 but not 5, so it’s a good thing because I like those movies. I’d like them to get attention, but I don’t know that it’s going to blow the doors open for things like ‘Frozen River’ and those real dark-horse kind of movies that would slip in,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to change that much. It’s just going to make the debate a little less interesting.”

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