Academy Updates Best Picture Rules, Will Now Be 5 to 10 Nominees

June 15, 2011


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?

Find more posts: Awards, Discuss, Movie News



Why can't they just do something where they select 10 nominees and announce those around say, the end of December or early January? Then out of those 10 they select 5 and announce those 5 on January 24th? It seems as though no way of choosing the nominees goes without people pointing ot problems.

Gadder4311 on Jun 15, 2011


I guess they're trying to please everyone... they're saying, if there really are more films worthy of it, there will be more than 5 nominees. Because that isn't enough anymore, since 10 has worked well these last few years, but they want to even it out for everyone...

Alex Billington on Jun 15, 2011


And for a non-biased polling system "pleasing everyone" is the first sign of desperation. Doubling, or rounding out the number of nominees is a non-biased way of enabling more worthy choices to be added to the list. Revising it to a percentage based system where X number of nominees can be appointed seems to be nothing more of either a ratings ploy or a backstage political agenda. Which every way your pessimistic view skews toward.

Anonymous on Jun 15, 2011


If they really want to please everyone with 10 picture noms, they should at least be serious about it. How can you have 10 best picture noms but only 5 best director noms?   And now this silly new reality show type way of nominating is just another nail in the Academy Awards coffin.  Who is running the Academy these days;  Simon Cowell?

Hattori Hanzo on Jun 15, 2011


Should we call that "The Miss America System"? Voting in all it's forms are popularity contests, and voting on "the best" for a piece of art (as movies are an art form) is about as meaningless as it gets. Before I start a flame war the whole point of adding nominations is that the nominations themselves are widely accepted as a legitimate award of excellence. Whoever wins is usually just the most popular of the group of nominees. Adding an additional "level" of nominations waters down their value of and makes it seem like a list of (eventual) losers, instead of a group of excellence where the most votes gets a trophy as a bonus.

Anonymous on Jun 15, 2011


Don't care. The Tree of Life will win next year.

R W O on Jun 15, 2011


Not if Deathly Hallows part 2 is more Return of the King than Revenge of the Sith. Jane Eyre won't be nominated (came out too early) Iron Lady won't get nominated (Doesn't even have a 2011 release date as of yet) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo might get nominated

Jez on Jun 15, 2011


'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.' I'm sorry, but these awards are based popularity, not excellence. When you let thousands of people have an equal vote, it's a popularity contest. Nature of the beast. If you want it based on pure merit, elect a committee of at least a few dozen, to no more than a few hundred, an have them work it out. Two reasons: Not everyone can watch a 100 movies a year, judge them, and still hold a job. Even if 90% of voters see about 50 movies a year, nearly all of them will be the same shitty mainstream movies everyone complains about. Elect a committee of retired/semi retired people with the requirement that they must view, review, and rate at least 85% of all eligible movies. Secondly: Most people are $(*)*&$$# STUPID, and we are ALL biased. Getting a jury of 12 people who are capable of some sound judgement and can suppress their own self centered opinions to able to make an unbiased decision is hard. Plus they have a bible.

Anonymous on Jun 15, 2011


I watch 12 movies a month, hold a good job and still find time to do tons of other things besides, so it is definitely possible.  But I do agree with you ... the Oscars haven't been about excellence in a very long time.

MainliningMovies on Jun 15, 2011


I like it. At first I hated when they moved it from 5 to 10 nominations, but after the first year it didn't bother be anymore. 5 nominations for a best picture is way too short, but if it's a bad year for movies and only 5 movies deserve a nomination, then I'm completely for it. Good stuff. What is this preferential system though? What does this mean?

Kistner on Jun 15, 2011

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