Academy adds a new twist to best picture rules

Los Angeles: As many as ten films were nominated in the best film category for the Oscar last year but, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences having added a new twist to the competition section this year, anywhere between five to 10 movies will figure in the final nomination list for the 84th Oscars.

However, the final number won`t be revealed until the best picture nominees themselves are revealed Jan 24, 2012.

"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," said the Academy President Tom Sherak, who noted that it was retiring executive director Bruce Davis who recommended the change first to Sherak and incoming CEO Dawn Hudson and then to the governors.

In a statement on the Academy`s official website, Bruce Davis said: "In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies. A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honour in a given year, we shouldn`t feel an obligation to round out the number."

It is believed that 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 five, six, seven, eight and nine nominees.

The final round of voting for best picture will continue to employ the preferential system, regardless of the number of nominees, to ensure that the winning picture has the endorsement of more than half of the voters.

The board has changed some other rules that include:

In the animated feature film category, the need for the board to vote to "activate" the category each year has been eliminated, though a minimum number of eligible releases - eight - is still required for a competitive category.

Additionally, the short films and feature animation branch recommended, and the board approved, refinements to the number of possible nominees in the Animated Feature category.

In any year, in which eight to 12 animated features are released, either two or three of them may be nominated. When 13 to 15 films are released, a maximum of four may be nominated, and when 16 or more animated features are released, a maximum of five may be nominated.

In the visual effects category, the "bakeoff" at which the nominees are determined will expand from seven to 10 contenders. The increase in the number of participants is related to a change made last year in which the number of films nominated in the visual effects category was increased from three to five.

Previously, the board approved changes to the documentary feature and documentary short category rules that now put those categories` eligibility periods in line with the calendar year and thus with most other awards categories. The change means that for the 84th Awards cycle only, the eligibility period is more than 12 months; it is from September 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011.

Other modifications of the 84th Academy Awards rules include normal date changes and minor "housekeeping" changes.

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 Academy`s Board of Governors for approval.

While the nomination list will be declared Jan 24, 2012, the awards will be presented Feb 26.


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