In 2009 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that for the first time since 1944 there would be 10 films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The move was made to try and include more populist titles into the Oscar's biggest race, which they hoped would raise television ratings. After two years, they have decided to change the system again.

The Academy has posted a press release on their website announcing that the next Best Picture race will be using a new system that could result in anywhere between five and ten nominees. The new selection method will work as follows: when the list of eligible films are sent out to voters, only those with at least 5% of first place votes will be included as nominees for the award. While the release doesn't mention the possibility, one can assume that five is the minimum number of nominees, meaning that even if only four films get 5% of the first place votes, the film with the highest number of votes without reaching 5% will still be includes. Speaking about the change, retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis said,
"In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies. 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."
While I do think that it's odd that they would change the system again so quickly, I actually really like this idea. There is no way in hell that The Blind Side was one of the best films of 2009, yet it was nominated for Best Picture. Why? Because they had to reach a quota. This new move ensures that those movies nominated for Best Picture actually deserve it. There are also new rules concerning the documentary categories, Best Visual Effects and Best Animated Film, which you can see below. None of these changes are nearly as groundbreaking as the changes in Best Picture, but still worth a look.
In the animated feature film category, the need for the Board to vote to “activate” the category each year was eliminated, though a minimum number of eligible releases – eight – is still required for a competitive category. Additionally, the short films and feature animation branch recommended, and the Board approved, refinements to the number of possible nominees in the Animated Feature category. In any year in which eight to 12 animated features are released, either two or three of them may be nominated. When 13 to 15 films are released, a maximum of four may be nominated, and when 16 or more animated features are released, a maximum of five may be nominated.

In the visual effects category, the “bakeoff” at which the nominees are determined will expand from seven to 10 contenders. The increase in the number of participants is related to a change made last year in which the number of films nominated in the visual effects category was increased from three to five.

Previously, the Board approved changes to the documentary feature and documentary short category rules that now put those categories’ eligibility periods in line with the calendar year and thus with most other awards categories. The change means that for the 84th Awards cycle only, the eligibility period is more than 12 months; it is from September 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011.

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