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OSCARS: Sweeping Rule Changes Alter Academy’s Process And Season

By | Sunday November 4, 2012 @ 8:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

The times — and rules — they are a-changin’ for this year’s Oscar race. Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences refines the rules in an effort to keep the campaigning fair and maintain the integrity of the industry’s highest honor. But this year will debut some of the most sweeping changes Oscar has seen in decades.
Academy members will be voting electronically for the first time, which will allow a tightened schedule for determining nominations and an earlier nominee announcement. In addition, both the song and documentary feature categories received their own tuneups. The aggressive moves are an effort to make the nominees matter even more.
The earlier schedule means the eagerly anticipated nomination announcement will happen two weeks earlier than usual, on Jan. 10. And the period in which nominating ballots will be available is smack dab in the heart of the holiday season, Dec. 17-Jan. 2.

OSCARS: Studio-by-Studio Look At This Year’s Hopefuls

Although the actual process of casting a ballot will be easier for members with laptops or iPads, the real challenge is the truncated time period that members will now have to see all the movies, particularly those released in December.
In fact, on the very day the Academy announced this seismic change, Universal moved the release date of its big Oscar hopeful, Les Miserables, from Dec. 14 to Christmas Day, seemingly giving voters less time to see the film. However, the consultant I spoke with didn’t seem concerned. Read More »

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OSCAR: Best Picture Change Makes Sense

By | Wednesday June 15, 2011 @ 3:45am PDT
Pete Hammond

OSCAR SHOCKER! Academy Builds Surprise & Secrecy Into Best Picture Race: Now There Can Be 5 To 10 Nominees

Tuesday night’s vote by the Board of Governors made another major change in the Best Picture Oscar race. But this time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences has found a good way to inject suspense and freshness back into the race without moving the ceremony earlier (at least yet). By requiring a minimum of 5% of first-place votes in order to receive a Best Pic nod, the Academy is going to keep us guessing right up to the announcement of the nominees. That rightfully puts the emphasis on the quality, rather than quantity, of the contenders. Depending on how those first-place votes turn out, we once again can have a year with only five nominees or, like the past two years, with 10 nominees, or any number in between. The latter is the most likely scenario as the Academy in their press release points out that, in their study of the years 2001 to 2008, there were “years that would have yielded 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 nominees.”

Although there were many supporters in the Academy for the move in the 2009 and 2010 Best Picture competition to expand to 10 nominees from the locked number of five that had been in place since 1944, there seemed to be just as many detractors who thought the larger number of candidates devalued the worth of a nomination. It was done largely because popular critical successes like The Dark Knight were passed over. With the new rule of 10 nominees, such popular box office hits as Up, The Blind Side, District 9, and Inception each earned Best Pic stripes they likely would not have received if only five films had been eligible. The move was originally proposed by 2008 Oscar show producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark, but they actually suggested it should be eight nominees as it was in 1931-1932. After a committee studied the proposal, the Board voted to make it 10 nominees just as it had been in the years 1936 to 1943, the last time there were more than five nominees until 2009. Read More »

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OSCAR SHOCKER! Academy Builds Surprise & Secrecy Into Best Picture Race: Now There Can Be 5 To 10 Nominees

PETE HAMMOND - OSCAR: Best Picture Change Makes Sense

Beverly Hills, CA — The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted on Tuesday (6/14) to add a new twist to the 2011 Best Picture competition, and a new element of surprise to its annual nominations announcement. The Board voted to institute a system that will now produce anywhere between five and 10 nominees in the category. That number won’t be announced until the Best Picture nominees themselves are revealed at the January nominations announcement.

“With the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers, we’ve been looking not just at what happened over the past two years, but at what would have happened if we had been selecting 10 nominees for the past 10 years,” explained Academy President Tom Sherak, who noted that it was retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis who recommended the change first to Sherak and incoming CEO Dawn Hudson and then to the governors.

During the period studied, the average percentage of first place votes received by the top vote-getting movie was 20.5. After much analysis by Academy officials, it was determined that 5% of first place votes should be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from five to 10 movies.

“In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies,” said Davis. “A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.”

If this system had been in effect from 2001 to 2008 (before the expansion to a slate of 10), there would have been years that yielded 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominees.

Read More »

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Tom Sherak Re-Elected AMPAS President

Mike Fleming

It was hardly a cliffhanger, but Tom Sherak was reelected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was voted in last night by the Academy Board of Governors along with Sid Ganis (first vice president), James L. Brooks, (vice president) Phil Robinson (vice president), Hawk Koch (treasurer) and Annette Bening (secretary). Sherak’s first term was marked by the Academy’s controversial decision to expand the Best Picture category to 10 films, for which Sherak was a proponent. While widening the field gave some extra attention to films like District 9, The Blind Side, Inglourious Basterds and Up In The Air, the extra five films were not at all a factor in what really became a two-horse race between Avatar and Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker. Read More »

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OSCARS: Academy Announces Rule Changes For Animated Film & Visual Effects

Osc2Beverly Hills, CA — The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finalized the rules for the 83rd Academy Awards at its most recent meeting (June 22). The most significant change is in the Visual Effects category, which will now feature five nominees rather than three.

Since 1963, when the Special Effects award was discontinued and new separate categories for achievements in visual effects and sound effects were established, the only period during which it was possible to have five visual effects nominees was 1977 through 1979. In only one of those years (1979) were five achievements actually recognized. Between 1980 and 1995, two or three productions could be nominated; since 1996 the rules have dictated there be exactly three nominees.

In the Animated Feature Film category, the rule governing running time for a motion picture to qualify was changed from at least 70 minutes to greater than 40 minutes, which is consistent with the running time requirements for feature films in all other categories. The running time for a motion picture to qualify as an animated, live action or documentary short film has been and continues to be a maximum of 40 minutes. The previous 70-minute threshold for an animated feature had left a gap for films that ran between 40 and 70 minutes, effectively preventing them from being able to qualify as either features or shorts.

Also in the Animated Feature Film category, a sentence regarding motion capture was added

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