Will the opening up of the Oscars' Best Picture category, from five nominees to 10, cheapen the awards show or save it? On the one hand, it seems to lower the standards the Academy has professed to uphold for decades; on the other hand, it could allow films that have been both box office crowd-pleasers and critical favorites, like 'Star Trek,''Up,' and 'Inglourious Basterds.'

After all, many more people watch the Oscars when films they know and have an emotional stake in are up for awards than when the Academy nominates films that few viewers at home have seen. In any case, the new rule will certainly make the Best Picture race more interesting and harder to predict, with a lot more wild cards in the deck this year.