The Academy Awards are doubling the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10.
Academy President Sid Ganis said at a news conference that the academy's board of governors made the decision to expand the slate. Ganis said the decision will open the field up to more worthy films for the top prize at Hollywood's biggest party.
The change takes effect with next year' Oscars on March 7.
The move is a return to Oscar traditions of the 1930s and '40s, when 10 nominees were common.
Ganis said the board looked at last year's slate of films and decided there was room for more in the top category. "We nominated five, but there were many other great films last year," he said.
Among last year's most acclaimed movies was the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," which wound up snubbed.
Ganis said the broader field also might make room for documentaries, foreign-language films, animated movies and even comedies, which typically do not fare well at the Oscars.
"Everybody says the academy will never nominate a comedy," Ganis said. "Well, maybe we will."
Having 10 or more was common in Hollywood's golden age 60-70 years ago. Ganis noted that 1939's 10 best-picture nominees were "Gone With the Wind," which won, "The Wizard of Oz," ''Stagecoach," ''Wuthering Heights," ''Love Affair," ''Goodbye, Mr. Chips," ''Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," ''Of Mice and Men," ''Dark Victory" and "Ninotchka."
All are generally considered classics today.