Oscar's 'Slumdog' Problem: Too Many Nominees

Not because it didn't deserve to win, but because it was yet another art-house movie to walk away with the grand prize. The Academy decided this year to increase the number of best-film nominees from five to 10 because the smaller pool had been dominated by small films. And without any megahits in the mix (Wall-E, The Dark Knight), the ratings for the Oscar telecast have continued to slide. Last February, they were down to a mere 36 million viewers—how humiliating! The theory is that opening the door wider will allow films such as Up to make the cut, and millions of fans will tune in to root for their fave. But this creates two possible problems. With more nominees, a film will need fewer votes to win. So a movie with a passionate following can tip the balance, even if, say, StarTrek isn't anywhere close to being the best movie of the year. The second problem: Star Trek could get an Oscar nomination.