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Palm Springs Fest Director: 10 Best Actress Slots?

Sally Hawkins

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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