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Pasatiempo - - ACTS RANDOM - Jonathan Richards and Lau­rel Glad­den For The New Mex­i­can

Tra­di­tion isn’t what it used to be. Back in the early years, the Academy would throw any­where from eight to a dozen movies into the Best Pic­ture cat­e­gory. In those days, Best Pic­ture was called Out­stand­ing Pic­ture and was matched, for the first cou­ple of years, with an­other top prize, Unique and Artis­tic Pro­duc­tion. The Academy soon dropped that jaw­breaker and, in the ‘30s, changed the name of the cat­e­gory to Out­stand­ing Pro­duc­tion. The early ‘40s saw a brief switch to Out­stand­ing Mo­tion Pic­ture, quickly sup­planted by Best Mo­tion Pic­ture. Since 1962 it’s set­tled in as Best Pic­ture. Start­ing in 1944, the Academy whit­tled the nom­i­na­tions down to a stan­dard five. That num­ber held for 65 years — un­til, in 2009, some­body got the bright idea that a larger field meant more movies could put “Nom­i­nated for Best Pic­ture” in their ads and sell more tick­ets. For a few years this spirit of largesse re­sulted in 10 nom­i­na­tions. Then, for the next few, it dwin­dled to nine. This year, it’s down to eight. By the Academy’s rules, a movie must get at least 5 per­cent of the first-place rank­ings in the nom­i­na­tion process to make the cut. It seems that this year’s eight nom­i­nees were the only ones to rise to that bar.

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