Academy Board of Governors Changes Rules for 92nd Oscars — Without Spielberg

The Board of Governors continues to open up voting for nominations, and changed one category from foreign language to international feature.
Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo in Netflix's "Roma."
Alfonso Cuarón

No more Spielberg vs. Netflix headlines. The filmmaker and Academy governor skipped this year’s annual rules meeting on April 23. He may have recognized that the possible rule change requiring a longer exclusive run would not fly. He’s changed his tune, it seems.

As expected, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to maintain the 2012 status quo for Rule Two, Eligibility for the 92nd Oscars. To be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission. Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” stated outgoing Academy President John Bailey. “Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

One post-“Roma” rule change: the foreign-language category is now renamed the “International Feature Award.” Last year’s Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuarón memorably complained that when he watched Spanish-language movies in Mexico, they weren’t “foreign.” “We have noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” stated Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee. “We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”

John Bailey'Groundhog Day' 25th Anniversary film screening, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Apr 2018
John BaileyRob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

And recognizing the large number of foreign films submitted every year–and the burgeoning ranks of global Academy members– the Academy is expanding the number of international films on the shortlist from seven films to be chosen by the Phase I International Feature Film Committee, with three more added by the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee, for a total of ten. (It used to be nine.)

The category name change is not accompanied by any change in existing category rules, the submission process, or eligibility requirements.  An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Animated and documentary feature films are permitted; and each country is permitted to submit one official selection.

And in the Animated Feature category, there are now so many features released every year that the Academy no longer requires the theatrical release of eight eligible animated features in the calendar year to activate the awards category. As the Academy tries to make voting easier for members, nominations voting will automatically be available to all active members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. Other active voting members of the Academy must opt-in to participate in the animation feature nominations round.

In the Makeup and Hairstyling category, the number of nominated films is increasing from three to five, and the shortlist is increasing from seven to ten.  In addition, the bake-off reels for the films shall not exceed seven minutes in total running time.

In the Short Film categories, Animated and Live Action Short Films now have the option to qualify theatrically in either the City of New York or Los Angeles County to be eligible for submission.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees.  The Awards and Events Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for final approval. Other amendments to the rules including standard date changes and “housekeeping” adjustments are here. 

The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, televised live on the ABC Television Network, which goes to 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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