Academy Updates Best Picture Rules, Will Now Be 5 to 10 Nominees
Big news from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today. AMPAS, who hosts the Oscars every year, has officially announced (via press release) a "new twist" to the 2011 Best Picture competition, plus a new element of surprise to the actual nominees. The Board has voted to institute a system that will now produce anywhere between 5 and 10 nominees in that category. That number won't be announced until the Best Picture nominees themselves are revealed at the January nominations announcement. This system seems to be their way of addressing the change in voting since expanding up to 10 nominees two years ago.
They seem to have good intentions with this: "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. 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 will be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from 5 to 10 movies, but we won't find out exactly how many (and which) until the nominees are announced on the morning of January 24th, 2012.
"In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies," said AMPAS exec director Bruce 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." Interesting quote and one a lot of cinephiles should be able to support. The press release claims that if this system had been in effect from 2001 to 2008 (before the last increase in nominees to 10) there would have been years with 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominations.
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 Academy also announced a few other changes to the 2011 Oscar voting rules, including upping the minimum of animated movies required for there to be five nominees, all the way to 16 or more, cutting back to just four or three depending on other numerical ranges. There's also a change to the visual effects category's early voting process, since that category also got upped to five nominees last year. You can find all the updates in the full press release, as they've made other changes in case anyone is an Academy member.
This will definitely make the Oscars next year, at least the lead-up to the nominees, a lot more interesting and speculative. More than anything, I'm curious to see it work. I want to see how many movies do get nominated from this year and what they are. Maybe we'll end up seeing 10 nominees anyway, because the voters will still go all out? Or maybe it'll drop back down to 5, but I honestly can't see that happening. The upcoming Academy Awards for 2011 will be hosted on February 26th, 2012 and the nominees will be revealed in late January. Until then, we can only speculate as to the results. What does everyone think?