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Oscars Timeline Shift Helps Voters See More Movies

In announcing the voting timetable for next year’s 89th annual Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has taken the time crunch out of the equation for its membership… kind of.

For the last four years, the annual Oscar nominations announcement has been held on a mid-month Thursday in January. Added to the fact that the phase-one (nominations) voting period begins in late-December and straddles the new year, the result has been holiday schedules wreaking havoc on screener catch-up for those looking to see as many contenders as possible.

Today the Academy announced that, for the first time since the Oscar telecast date was shifted from late-March to late-February over a decade ago, phase-one voting won’t commence until after the new year. But there’s a notable catch: both balloting phases will run for a scant nine days each, the shortest windows yet.

The Academy has actually been slowly tightening these windows over the last several years. As recently as the 2011 season, phase-one voting lasted a full three weeks, while phase-two voting lasted 18 days. It used to be even longer. However, electronic voting has helped this become a reasonable reality. The Academy has consistently noted that the vast majority of its membership votes electronically now rather than via snail mail.

Either way, voter complaints more often center on when voting is scheduled, not how long it lasts. Many vote as soon as their ballots arrive or are made available online, after all. With this schedule, more time is afforded for those squeezing viewings into the end of the year.

Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in line with the pre-2013 status quo.

The move affects other things, however. For instance, with the 74th annual Golden Globes being held on Jan. 8 (i.e. five days before phase one voting concludes), the NBC telecast takes on a sheen of perceived importance. Many felt that moving the Academy’s phase-one timetable and nominations ahead of the Globes four years ago was meant to hurt the show.

The nominations announcement also lands right in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 19-29) this time around, much like it used to. So that’ll be a familiar headache for journalists covering both.

The 89th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.

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