‘What’s a few days among friends,’ Academy asks with noms move

Moving truckSo, that was a newsy Tuesday for me to be out of the office.

Out came the revelation that nominations for Feb. 24’s 85th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 10, five days earlier than previously scheduled. They will come after a voting period that runs from Dec. 17-Jan. 3 – a voting period that will for the first time in Oscar history feature electronic balloting. 

You want ramifications? You get ’em, from the noms coming out three days before the Jan. 13 Golden Globes ceremony to the fact that there will be less time to whittle the entire best picture field down.

As a sidelight, Universal announced that the official opening of “Les Miserables” has been moved from Dec. 14 to Christmas Day – a more prestigious spot, but one that comes only nine mostly vacation days before ballots are due.  Now, that’s not to suggest that the people who need to see the movie won’t see it, but it does add a little spice. 

As for the mechanics of voting themselves, well, consider the Academy in flux. The process has been in development for more than a year, with the Acad saying that it has “conducted extensive research and held numerous focus groups with its members to ensure a smooth transition and widespread adoption.” At the same time, the Academy plans to offer assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London, along with a 24-hour help line and – as a last (or first) resort, paper ballots.

(In fact, eight categories will remain on paper ballots entirely for the 85th Oscars: animated feature, animated short, live-action short, documentary feature, documentary short subject, foreign-language film, makeup/hairstyling and visual effects.) 

It didn’t take long for the announcement to reverberate around the industry. Already, the Directors Guild has moved its feature-film nominations to Jan. 8 to avoid conflicting with the film academy’s nomination date. The DGA Awards will be presented Feb. 2. 

The Academy’s wee bit o’ news will affect other awards shows, will affect campaigning, will affect party-planning – so much so that we’ve only just begun dissecting it all.

And yet, the main challenge remains as it ever was. Providers need to get their films seen; voters need to see as much as they can. Voting ends in 3 1/2 months. That should be enough time to get it all done, right?  Except that it never seems like there’s enough time. 

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