Understanding how the Oscar nominees are selected can sometimes be a math problem that's more complicated then understanding the electoral college.
But, I imagine the general non-obsessed film fan is comfortable with the idea of people submitting nominees and somehow nominees are spit out the other end.
In the past couple years, the Oscars have tinkered with the best picture nominations moving it from 5 nominees to 10 (as we saw in the 1930s). It seemed that the objective was to make the Oscar nominees more accessible, with a wider diversity of films, although they must have felt something with their equation was broken and unworthy films were slipping in during weak film years.
This year's rule allows there to be any number of nominations between 5 and 10. In order for their to be more than 5 nominees, the additional films need to have at least 5% of the votes in the number one spot.
So, should this scenario happen come Oscar morning we could have six best picture nominees, maybe seven, eight, nine - or even ten. Although thinking about 10 films hitting the list based on this criteria seems unlikely, but of course, it's hard to know what the vote splits really look like.
So, I'm not sure what to think about the rule change, but in the pre-Academy Award ritual of predicting nominees it's hard to know how to predict nominees, or what people will expect...should we talk about six nominees, seven? Or stick to 5 with alternates in the wings?
It probably doesn't matter - but I expect people asking the beginning of 2012, "why is there seven nominees (or whatever number we see)."