Academy Tweaks Oscar Rules for Best Picture, Visual Effects

Academy Awards Show
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The Academy’s board of governors on Tuesday made a few adjustments to Oscars rules and campaign regulations, with no major shakeups in any category. And, despite some advance drumbeating by opponents, the Acad maintained the current system of best-picture contenders, with a variable five to 10 nominees.

Every year in June, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences hears reports from various Oscar committees, including the rules and campaign panel.  This year, the board approved a tweak in the best picture category. To qualify as a nominee for a nominated picture, the producer must have been deemed eligible for a Producers Guild of America award for the picture, or must have appealed the PGA’s refusal of such eligibility. Final determination of the qualifying producer nominees will be made by the Academy’s producers branch executive committee.

In the visual effects category, the number of eligible films that will be initially shortlisted has increased to a maximum of 20 titles. However, the number of movies that will be shortlisted for nominations voting remains at 10.

For documentary short subject, the number of films that will be shortlisted for nominations voting has increased from eight to 10 titles. Instead of a possible three, four or five nominees, the number is now set at five.

In the animated short film and live-action short film categories, a film qualifying via a theatrical release must now have a theatrical run in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days, with at least one screening per day. The film must also appear in the theater listings along with the appropriate dates and screening times. In both categories, the number of nominees is now set at five.

Other amendments to the rules include standard date changes and other “housekeeping” adjustments.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The awards rules committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the board of governors for approval.

Updated campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 88th Academy Awards, are also presented to the board for approval.

The 88th Academy Awards will be held Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and will be televised live on ABC, with the show (including red-carpet coverage) starting at 4 p.m. PT.

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  1. Daniel says:

    So producers are now forced to join a guild they probably want no part of, for eligibility for the Best Picture prize.

    No more British-produced nominees like ´The King´s Speech´, then.

    Unless the producer has done, or joins two guilds.

    • D. Plumore says:

      Nope. No one has to join the PGA. It’s simply using a set of criteria that the PGA uses for determining who is a real producer, and who among the many many produces listed isn’t. But membership in the PGS is NOT one of the criteria.

  2. 6/24/15 4:14p Variety Tweaks the Academy Awards Oscar Rules
    In the 1930’s and 1940’s we had 8 to 12 Best Picture Nominees and the award was split amongst them. The idea that having more than one nominee splits the votes, It will! Why wouldn’t it? You have to have several contenders in contention. Why not just forget the nominees and award the Oscar to one film and forget the nominees. I like the fact many films have a chance at a nomination. in the past so many undeserving films were nominated. Keep the Best Picture list at 10 films

  3. srvwp2013 says:

    If this entire self-congratulatory, back-slapping, glad-handing, dishonest, lying and corrupt enterprise must continue, then the qualifications must be made as narrow and as strict as possible. There are barely three (3) films made during any given year that deserve any kind of recognition much less the schlock, dreck and drivel that has produced by the Industry for at least a decade if not longer. People in general know that there is no longer any value coming out of the Hollywood end of the industry.

    In most instances in America, there are “awards” for Win, Place and Show — First, Second, Third. Everyone and everyone else is an also ran. Most if us cannot even remember who won what, i.e. the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Indianapolis 500, The Stanley Cup, etc. from one year to the next. We are all heroes to ourselves and in our own minds, but this business of trying to have everyone feel like or be a winner is ridiculous. Civilization is not structured that way.

    The Academy, and all other award-bestowing bodies in the Entertainment Industry should go to a three candidate field for all of its categories. Society is selling out its values in trying to be all-inclusive. A piece of work is either a winner or it is not.

  4. LOL says:

    Go back to five!

  5. my thoughts says:

    Never should have gone with ten Best Picture nominees. Splits so many votes, doesn’t it?
    It’s as if the tenth one nominated is squeaking in just to make the total be ten. Then you
    have the eleventh . . and the twelfth . .
    If a film merits a nomination, let it be so. But don’t overflow the boat.

  6. Lex Walker says:

    Translation: “We’re afraid people will stop watching the Oscars if we go back to predominantly prestige pic nominations, so we’ll leave it so films with no realistic chance still get nominated to lure in viewers who don’t realize what kind of ploy this is.”

  7. JE Vizzusi says:

    Ten film nominations is ridiculous. Now we are stuck. Short docs are opportunist filmmakers should be reserved for Spirit Awards. Why not 10 feature doc noms if you are sticking with 10 narratives?

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