The British Academy of Film and Television Arts tweaked its Outstanding British Film category today, adding a sixth nominee which will act as a sort of wildcard entry. All other BAFTA award fields have five nominees each, but BAFTA’s Nik Powell said the addition of a sixth film would “ensure that this important category fully celebrates the outstanding range of British films in our cinemas each year.” Five of the movies will be decided by chapter vote, but the sixth nomination will be decided by a jury of filmmakers. A BAFTA member tells me, “There’s always been a fear that British film and best film will be the same result in a big British year.” Likewise, in a year where the winning film in the main category is British, there are questions if the top pick in the British race doesn’t match. “It sometimes seems like BAFTA’s most schizophrenic category and they’ve been tinkering with it in recent years to get it right.”
Last year, Skyfall won the top British film prize, but was not nominated in the main category. Les Misérables, however, was nominated in both categories. Still, the British film race has in the past recognized movies like This Is England, which would have had a hard time in a wide vote. BAFTA is not expected to reveal which film was the wildcard under the new regs. In the updated rule book that was published today (read it here), the Film Committee has also re-named and expanded the shorts categories so that the British Short Film and British Short Animation awards are now open to non-fiction works. Entries for this year’s feature BAFTAs open on September 2 and close on November 13. The shorts entries open August 12 and close October 30. Nominations will be unveiled on January 8 and the ceremony takes place on February 16.