Oscars Change Documentary & Animation Rules

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have made two key rule changes today, one of which is due to one very obvious cause – namely last year’s best documentary winner “O.J.: Made in America”.

No matter how much of a crowning achievement it is, or that it had both a Sundance premiere and an awards-qualifying limited theatrical engagement, there’s no way to argue that “O.J.: Made in America” is a documentary feature. It was conceived and produced as a documentary series, no different to “The Jinx” or “Making a Murderer,” and so in fairness it should be up for Emmys rather than Oscars.

In a press release this morning, the Academy is now closing the loophole which allowed “O.J.” to qualify – the rule now states that multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration. The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will also resolve all questions of eligibility and rules.

In other words they’re not happy that a TV doco won, especially considering how many great actual feature docos were released last year that were subsequently shut out from the award, and plan to stop anyone else from trying that method. The rule only comes in for future ceremonies so the win for “O.J.: Made in America” still stands.

The biggest change today though is for the Best Animated Feature category which will now be treated like Best Picture in that any member can vote for any nominee instead of just those in the animation branch, and it will use a preferential voting system ala Best Picture.

What this likely means is we’ll probably see less indie and foreign animated films in the category so films such as “The Red Turtle” or “My Life as a Zucchini” this year will probably be pushed out for “Finding Nemo” or “The Secret Life of Pets” instead as the major studios have wider distribution nets and so their fils will more likely be seen.

Source: AMPAS