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    Star Trek for Oscar? Academy Expands Best Picture to 10

    Up, Chris Pine, Star Trek, Johnny Depp, Public Enemies, Bradley Cooper, Hangover, Oscar Statue Disney Pixar; Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Peter Mountain/Universal Studios; Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures; AMPAS

    It's a year too late for The Dark Knight, but maybe those Hangover guys will have something extra special to celebrate.

    This year's Best Picture field will be expanded to 10 contenders, the Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

    The move could mean typically overlooked genres like sci-fi, comedy and animation could get a crack at the big prize—and could spell good news for this year's biggest hits, Star Trek, The Hangover and Up.

    While the Best Picture category, like the rest of the Oscar fields, has traditionally been limited to five nominees in recent decades, it hasn't always been so.

    During the early years of the Oscars, there were 10 (and sometimes more) nominees, up until Casablanca beat back nine rivals at the 16th Academy Awards at the 1943 ceremony.

    Today's announcement comes as the Academy continues to mark the 70th anniversary of "Hollywood's Greatest Year"—1939 saw the release of such classic films as Best Picture winner Gone With the Wind, along with fellow Oscar nominees The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Dark Victory, Love Affair, Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

    Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards will be announced Feb. 2, 2010, with the ceremony set for March 7.

    (Originally published June 24, 2009, at 10:35 a.m. PT)

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