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Broadcast Film Critics Association Faces Criticism for Adding ‘The Force Awakens’ to Best Picture Ballot

Broadcast Film Critics Association Faces Criticism for Adding 'The Force Awakens' to Best Picture Ballot

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” screened too late for the vast majority of critics organizations to consider it in year-end voting, including the Broadcast Film Critics Association. But after what an email to members called “an unprecedented cry out” from its membership, the BFCA’s board of directors called a “special referendum” on adding the movie to the 10 candidates for Best Picture, which it won. No other categories were affected. A similar exception to the rules was made once before, in 2000, for “Cast Away.”

The BFCA faced immediate criticism, including from its own members, over what many saw as an attempt to increase ratings for the awards ceremony’s A&E broadcast on January 17.

Member Eric Melin announced he was resigning in the wake of the decision. In an open letter to the BFCA’s board of directors, he wrote, “In order for a professional critics body to have integrity, nomination and voting guidelines must be consistent with the way they were laid out at the beginning of the process…. Unlike the other nominations, this was not decided upon using a weighted ballot of all possibilities, and it smells like a desperate ploy to get better TV ratings.”

“It is the purpose of the Critics’ Choice Awards to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement,” reads the BFCA’s press release. “Making this exception to our rules serves this purpose. Historically, the ‘Critics’ Choice Awards’ are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.”

Update: Salt Lake City Weekly’s Scott Renshaw has submitted a public resignation from the BCFA as well. He writes “[I]t is obvious to me that this decision is based more on [‘The Force Awakens”‘] marketing value than on making sure that the best films are included. If that were the case, the entire nomination process would have been opened up again to allow ‘The Force Awakens’ to be considered in all categories. Any suggestion this decision was made primarily for any reason other than to improve ratings for the awards broadcast feels disingenuous at best.”

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