Palm Springs Fest Director: 10 Best Actress Slots?
Palm Springs International Film Festival director Darryl Macdonald thinks upping the Oscar best actress slots from five to 10 is a fine idea: "I like that!"
There problem is, 2010 was lousy with great best-actress contenders: Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Lesley Manville, Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton, Michelle Williams, Hilary Swank, Sally Hawkins -- even Emma Stone and Hailee Steinfeld (who's actually being pushed for supporting actress) have been touted by people worth listening to.
But there are only five slots. So what if AMPAS doubles the list, as the best picture list was in 2009? "I'd be down with that, absolutely," says Macdonald, whose PSIFF, starting Thursday, will be lousy with radiant if perhaps a bit giddy Oscar hopefuls in attendance (including Javier Bardem, Robert Duvall, Colin Firth and Portman). The 10-slot best picture slate changed things for the better, says Macdonald. "It's really opened up the race."
Macdonald only advocates the change for this season, however. "How many years are there 10 worthy performances?" Perhaps, then, there should be only one extra 10-candidate slate per year, in whichever category AMPAS judges to be the strongest each year. Next year, do 10 best supporting actors, if the field of actors was outstanding, and next honor 10 cinematographers. If they really wanted to change the game in a cool way, go back to five noms each for black and white and color, as they did from 1939-66. Rotate the honors to match each year's unique pattern of achievement.
Macdonald is not starry-eyed, despite the glittery sky above Palm Springs, and doubts that such boldness is in the cards. "I think 10 would be a good idea, but Hollywood likes order, particularly the Academy. It would take them five years to make that decision anyway -- by which time it would be irrelevant."
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.