By Anthony Breznican
Updated June 15, 2011 at 07:24 AM EDT
Credit: Oscar statuette: ©A.M.P.A.S.®

Two years ago, the best picture Oscar race doubled from five nominees to 10. But this time? The Academy isn’t so sure.

It could be anywhere from five to 10 contenders.

Ever since the 2009 change, Hollywood has debated whether 10 is too many, expanding the field to include movies that don’t deserve the honor of a nomination just to fill the extra spaces. Tuesday night, the ruling governors board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seemed to concur with the criticism.

Among other rules adjustments to the awards, the governors voted to change the way nominating ballots are counted, and said in an announcement late Tuesday that if these changes had been in place over the past decade there would have been years when there were five, six, seven, eight, and nine nominees. (The details came from the Academy, which maintains voting figures each year but never releases them to the public.)

Missing from that analysis — the number “10.”

Voters rank their picks in order from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating a first choice for best picture. From now on, a movie can only get a nomination if it secured a minimum 5 percent of first-place votes, according to AMPAS.

Outgoing Academy executive director Bruce Davis was credited for recommending the change, and said in a statement that analysis of the data showed voters regularly would have preferred more than five nominated films. But that doesn’t mean 10 is always merited. “If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number,” Davis said.

Nominees will be announced Jan. 24, and the ceremony is set for Feb. 26.

On Twitter: @Breznican

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