Early this morning, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences issued a press release detailing a new process for choosing Best Picture nominees. Recently, the Academy increased the number of films that could be nominated in the category from five to 10. It was widely seen as a response to The Dark Knight not receiving a nomination the previous year. During this brief two-year era of 10 nominees, Disney/Pixar’s feature films were nominated each year (Up and Toy Story 3). Now, the Academy has altered the rules once again, stating that there will now be “anywhere between five and 10 nominees in the category.” What does that mean for Pixar? Read on to find out!
During the nomination process, voters rank their top films of the year. As a course of this rule change, Best Picture nominees must now receive at least 5% of the first-place votes. This means that one year there may be as little as five nominees, while in another year, there may be as many as 10. The final number of nominees in the category will not be unveiled until the nominations are announced.
Does this affect Pixar? Well, maybe. Up and Toy Story 3 were only the second and third animated films ever to be nominated for Best Picture. Over the years, many have wondered what the Academy’s feelings towards animated features has been. The creation of the Best Animated Feature category was widely seen as a way for the Academy to honor animated films due to their absence in most other categories (especially Best Picture). This again raises the debate on whether the Animated-only category needs to exist. There is no Best Live-Action Feature category, but with the general lack of animated films in the category, it has been assumed that the Academy voters prefer live-action. In a year where there are only five nominees may mean an absence of animated films from the category or it may not. It all depends on the frame of mind of those Academy voters.
This is not me railing against this new rule. Some complained when the field was increased to 10, as they thought some films that would not normally be considered for Best Picture would now be included in the category just to fill the 10 slots. I agree that was definitely a possibility, so the wild-nature of this new rule means only the top films named by the voters will be nominated (with the number varying from five to 10). If it is an amazing year for films, 10 slots may indeed be necessary to recognize the hard work of all those individuals attached to those films.
In the end, what most affects whether we see Pixar films have the chance to compete for Best Picture is:
- First and foremost, the quality of the film
- The Academy voters’ view on animated films
The Academy also slightly updated a few more rules, namely the Best Animated Feature category. In the past, the board had to actually “activate” the category, depending on whether the number of animated films entered by studios were enough to have an animated feature race. However, at least eight films still need to be offered by studios for consideration. Also, “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.”
Since Pixar has had quite the stronghold on the Animated Feature category in the past, the slight adjustment of the rule should not hurt their chances for a nomination.
Check out the full press release below:
Beverly Hills, CA (June 14, 2011) – 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.
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.
Other rules changes approved by the Board include:
In the animated feature film category, the need for the Board to vote to “activate” the category each year was 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.
The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Source: The Academy
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