On the Academy’s other rule changes

Posted by · 1:48 am · June 15th, 2011

With the big news out of the way, there are a few other annual house-cleaning rule alterations that ought to be addressed.

First up, the Best Animated Feature Film category — which seems to get a face-lift in the rule book every summer — will now have anywhere from three to five nominees. As it was, in a year with 16 qualifying titles, five nominees would be selected. Less than the magic number 16 would yield just three nominees. Now, if 13 to 15 films qualify, four of them will be nominated by the branch. Under that, I’m assuming it’s just three as always.

VERDICT: I’m okay with this, I suppose, but the qualifying numbers still feel quite arbitrary. Still, this keep quality-heavy films that happen to be quantity-thin for animated output from being slighted.

Next up, the visual effects branch did some tinkering. Last year it must have been a bit embarrassing for “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “TRON Legacy,” which made the bake-off list of seven finalists but missed out on being nominated in the freshly expanded quintet. It just seemed cruel to keep the bake-off. They apparently still want to hold onto it, but will now expand that list of finalists from seven to 10.

VERDICT: Fair enough. Misery loves company, so there will simply be more also-rans in the final stages now.

Finally, the documentary branch has seen the light and shifted its dates for qualification to the calendar year rather than the October-to-October frame. That now matches every other category.

VERDICT: Duh, winning.

And that’s kind of how I see the whole announcement. It feels like half-measures here and there, but overall, a step in the right direction. So I’d say it was a progressive off-season for AMPAS.

How do you feel about the Academy’s rule changes this year?

[Photo: Universal Pictures]

→ 28 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

28 responses so far

  • 1 6-15-2011 at 5:22 am

    Glenn said...

    Why was the documentary window Oct-Oct. Was it to give them time to reach the necessary cities/screens (or whatever other rules they placed on them). It was always a bizarre rule.

  • 2 6-15-2011 at 5:54 am

    Alex in Movieland said...

    I still feel like they should bring Best Picture down to 5. Being a Best Picture nominee… it used to mean something, even without a Directing nom.

    7 this year, 6 the next year, 9 the year after than… And what does it say about those who will nearly miss making the list? It will say they SUCKED, they couldn’t even get 5%. :))

    we’ll expect a lot of bitching, like for the Original Song category.

  • 3 6-15-2011 at 6:24 am

    Ben M. said...

    The documentary change is long overdue, and I have no issue with the other choices.

    Though if one category should limit the number of nominees, it should be visual effects. Even while the Tron Legacy snub was baffling, Iron Man 2 felt like a clear filler nominee IMO. And there are some years that are even weaker, for instance I found it hard to come up with a really deserving third personal choice for 09 after Avatar and Star Trek.

  • 4 6-15-2011 at 6:30 am

    JJ1 said...

    I’m good to go with Animated and Doc.

    BP, I really like it in theory (as noted in the other thread).

    And if anything else … it will spur on lots of crazy/fun conversation here during the season. We’ll all be discussing every possibility of any film to get a BP nod and providing lists of anywhere from 5-10.

    It will be a shit show here, for sure. But I expect it’ll be a fun shit show. :)

  • 5 6-15-2011 at 7:18 am

    Rashad said...

    Visual Effects should just be 5 nominees always. It’s not like they struggle to fill the category anyway.

  • 6 6-15-2011 at 7:27 am

    Mike S said...

    I’m cool with the changes they presented, but will someone please shake up the music branch to recognize adapted music scores again? I’m not talking about “jukebox” scores, but actual work done translating existing music into something unique that supports a new film. Too many great composers/arangers in the past 10 years have been denied nominations because of the “substantially original” rule. There are original and adapted categories for screenwriting; the rules should be the same for music scoring. It’s a category that worked for decades. It needs to be brought back.

  • 7 6-15-2011 at 7:38 am

    James said...

    Hopefully next year they will decide to bring it back down to 5. This whole over 5 thing was an interesting experiment, but I don’t care for it in retrospect.

  • 8 6-15-2011 at 7:48 am

    Vn said...

    Can someone just force the music brach to listen to the soundtracks? They nominate as if they never listen to the scores. It would be nice if someday they respect their own rules of disqualification or abolish them, but at least have some consistance on the decisions they make every year.

  • 9 6-15-2011 at 8:35 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Any word on their decision about stunt Oscars? I haven’t heard anything on that yet.

  • 10 6-15-2011 at 8:56 am

    Maxim said...

    Everything is so arbitrary. What’s much worse though is that there is no sense of consitency whatsoever. This is excatly why almost everytime AMPAS makes a rule change it seems fundamentally so wrong.

    On one hand AMPAS makes #1 votes be the defining factor that gets the movies in – but then it turns around and starts splitting hairs on the 9th and 10th pick level.

    Is it really better to nominate a film that got 5.1% of #1 votes and virtually no support elsewhere over something that, say has %4.9 percent of all #1 votes for the very first placement and say %20 for #2, etc ?

    It just seems to me that the rule change will favor films like Blind Side (very vocal minority of supporters who vote #1 not because they actually believe it to be the best movie but because they want to see it nominated) over solid runner-ups like, say, Winter’s and the like. And I do realize that, in theory, this shouldn’t affect the *really* poular films but, really, it’s not them I’m talking about here. To me if the category was to be expanded, the only justification would be to include quality films.

    As it is though, the system will be even more prone to rigging and politics than it is now.
    Instead of voting my solid #3 pick for #3 position I know may have to seriously consider it necessary to put it in the #1 slot just so I could be sure it would even get in. And that, to me is just wrong.

    And what if there is, say 11 films that each earn over %5 percent? Like I said, there is no consitency.

  • 11 6-15-2011 at 8:57 am

    Maxim said...

    Point being, as far as the Best Picture change is concerned (I’m ok with the other ones), AMPAS may have the right idea but they are doing a terrible job of achieving it.

  • 12 6-15-2011 at 9:05 am

    Maxim said...

    And here is another one for ya:

    What if the split is 60%/20%/6%/5%/4% etc…

    In other words what if there is one film that cannibalizes the vote and leaves only 4% of pictures that meet the 5% minimum requirement, then what?

    I know it’s a HUGELY unlikely scenario but I’m just curious if they are prepared to handle it.

  • 13 6-15-2011 at 9:09 am

    Maxim said...

    Sorry to have so many posts in a row but that line above was supposed to say “leaves only 4 pictures not 4% of pictures).

  • 14 6-15-2011 at 9:23 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Robert: It was nixed again.

  • 15 6-15-2011 at 9:45 am

    Robert Hamer said...


  • 16 6-15-2011 at 10:29 am

    red_wine said...

    Thank god. Oscars for stunts??? Sheesh!

  • 17 6-15-2011 at 12:12 pm

    Fitz said...

    Like the changes to the Animated field. It was necessary.

  • 18 6-15-2011 at 1:51 pm

    Sean Stangland said...

    “Thank god. Oscars for stunts??? Sheesh!”

    Yeah, screw stuntpersons. It’s not like their work is featured on screen in almost every movie you see.

    Oh, wait…

  • 19 6-15-2011 at 2:26 pm

    Andrej said...

    Not to mention that if their job consist of basically putting their life in actual danger just so they can make the Oscar-nominated actors look good/marketable on screen, the very least the Academy should do is award the Best Stunt Coordination when it’s due.

    If the SAG Awards are doing it already, what’s preventing the Oscars from it? The risk of losing a bit of prestige by nominating Fast Five or Green Hornet? If anything, these movies are more likely to bring a few more watchers than The Way Back or I Am Love (not dissing these movies in any way, only brought these for comparison for films mentioned just in minor categories, as Stunt Coordination would be).

    I say bring them… while they’re still around for us. Who knows, with CGI as powerful as ever, the traditional artform might as well be gone in a few decades. Just look at the makeup branch.

  • 20 6-15-2011 at 2:36 pm

    Hans said...

    …hell, look at the costume branch. I remember everyone flipping their shit at the Green Lantern’s CGI costume.

  • 21 6-15-2011 at 3:29 pm

    Maxim said...

    I’m 100% with red_wine on the stunts issue. If for no other reason then because I’m concerned that in an effort to distinguish themselves and win Oscars stunt people will be putting themselves in more danger they already are. I respect what they do but I also think their profession is dangerous enough without the extra encouragement.

    That and the fact that their works should, in most cases be invisible. They idea of having Academy members vote on what is the coolest stunt… no. That’s strictly Spike/MTV movie awards fodder.

  • 22 6-15-2011 at 3:31 pm

    Maxim said...

    “Not to mention that if their job consist of basically putting their life in actual danger just so they can make the Oscar-nominated actors look good/marketable on screen,”

    And the award for the most innapropriate insertion of the word “Oscar” goes to Andrej.

    But hey, why stop there? Based on that logic, why not give separate Oscars to people who do their own sing in movies, separate from actual performances. This ridiculous list never ends.

  • 23 6-15-2011 at 4:13 pm

    Andrej said...


    I wanna thank my lover Meryl Streep, who’s such a great kisser… :o

    But seriously, I don’t think that the point of having an Oscar for stuntwork is to award the coolest stunt or something similar (Jackass 3D doesn’t need the attention). They should award all sorts of coreographies – fighting, action, dancing, sports, driving… there’s more to stuntwork than just running aimlessly in a battlefield. It’s one of the oldest traditions in cinema, and what makes actors like Jackie Chan stand out.

    And as for them getting in more danger for an award… well, the same can be said of actors themselves, as more than a few are willing to undergo extreme diets and trainings just to get a role, as baity as it might be.

    But still, how come SAG does it but not the Oscars, where most voters are actors anyway? Do you think it’s fitting for SAG somehow to do it but not the Academy, or it’s wrong all together?

    “But hey, why stop there? Based on that logic, why not give separate Oscars to people who do their own sing in movies, separate from actual performances. This ridiculous list never ends”

    You mean Best Original Song? The people behind their performances do get nominated, you know – lyricist and composer.

  • 24 6-15-2011 at 4:17 pm

    Andrej said...

    Forgot to mention – the ‘song’ thing you’re trying to get across has its own exceptions, where the performer is also the lyricist or composer, such as Bj√∂rk, Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, etc. So… void?

  • 25 6-16-2011 at 2:42 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I sympathise with stuntmen/women who feel they deserve recognition — but the problem is most Academy members are in no position to judge what constitutes outstanding stunt work. Admittedly, the laymen’s lack of knowledge is something that surfaces frequently in the technical categories, but at least they’re required to judge what they see/hear on the screen — there’s a level of invisibility and off-screen effect to the best stunt work that I can’t see most voters recognising. In the end, it’d become just another award to throw at the year’s most high-profile actioner, whether it truly had the year’s best stunt work or not.

  • 26 6-16-2011 at 8:15 am

    Vn said...

    What about digital computer animators? They NEVER get recognized because their work is considered NOT VISUAL EFFECTS. Only motion pictures can compete. This is the theory because a movie like Avatar win the Oscar and let’s say a movie like Tintin or Cars 2 cannot qualify. I would say the answer could be split that Oscar in two awards:

    Best Visual Affects (other visual effects)
    Best Digital Animation (Visual Effects made by computer)

  • 27 6-16-2011 at 9:25 am

    JJ1 said...

    I like that^.

    If there used to be Original Score/Adapted Score Oscars, and Dramatic Score/Comedic Score, they can have the 2 Visual Effects, as well.

  • 28 6-16-2011 at 10:07 am

    Andrej said...

    Vn, I think the problem with “Best Digital Animation” is the same one Guy mentions about stuntwork: it’s a job too invisible for most academics to easily notice or reward. There’s 3d character animation, 2d character animation, object animation, physics and gravity simulation, particle animation, lighting animation, motion graphics…

    I don’t believe that outside the animation branch there are many people knowledgeable in these fields to properly notice a job well done in them. They’re already reluctant to have animated or CGI-heavy films in Best Picture, or for that matter, Best Director, so what’s the chance they’d be willing to open themselves to Best Digital Animation?

    It’d be nice, though. Especially with the Annies being the way they are.