Critics have been saying for years that the Oscars have to loosen up and change with the times and not be so stiff and regimented. Well, here’s one very cool and classy idea: annnounce a brand-new category called the Masters Oscar, which in effect would be a retroactive Best Picture Oscar. The idea is to give a Masters Oscar each year to some richly deserving film that has steadily gained in reputation in the years and decades since it was first released, but was ignored or under-valued by Academy members at the time. An opportunity to right a past oversight by way of a second look, the Masters Oscar, if adopted, would probably be dubbed the “Second-Chance Oscar.” The idea partially came from reader Richard Swank, who put it to me this morning as follows: “All this talk of movies that were robbed in years past got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if the Academy had a veteran’s committee like the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame? It’s their job to induct those players who are deserving, but, for one reason or another didn’t make it in during the regular balloting.” My idea (thanks, Rich…now go sit down) is that each year the Academy Veterans Committee could nominate five Best Picture contenders from the past (any year, any decade) that didn’t win but deserved the honor and then some, and then of course send out DVDs of the five nominated films to the general Academy membership, and require them to vote for their favorite along with all the other categories. Think of the thrill and the major emotion that would come from films like Citizen Kane, Notorious, Psycho, A Clockwork Orange, Au hasard Balthazar, Touch of Evil, Taxi Driver, Bringing Up Baby or Out of the Past winning a Masters Oscar each year…ratified by a majority of the membership with the producers, directors and stars (or their descendants) coming up on stage to receive their Oscars to rapturous applause. It would obviously do wonders for the Oscar’s historical reputation, as well enhance the winning film’s reputation with the DVD-buying public. I don’t want to brag, but this is the best innovative idea I’ve come up with in a long time. Now watch Gil Cates and his old-school cronies blow it off.