The Oscar race is too damn long. I can prove it. Two of the eight films competing for Best Picture this year – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash -- made their debuts at the Sundance Film Festival. No, not the most recent Sundance, which concluded in January. Last year’s Sundance fest, which wrapped on January 26, 2014.

The Oscar race, as a result, needs to be shortened. There’s no reason we need to be seven full weeks into 2015 before we recognize and honor the best of 2014. The year prior, the ceremony was held on March 2. Prior to 2004, the ceremony was staged at the end of March, but people complained and the Academy shifted its date earlier. They need to do that again. There need to be some changes made to shorten the duration of the Academy Awards campaign process, increasing the drama and maintaining an interest in the films we – as an industry – are determining are the finest films on the table. Here are three easy ways to tighten up the race. Oscar, are you listening?

Announce the Nominees on January 1
We’re not trying to move mountains here, just make small alterations that could result in big changes. There’s no reason the Academy can’t have their Oscar nominees ready to announce on January 1. Films have to screen before December 31 to qualify. But any film in contention shows its wares long before Dec. 15, and Hollywood shuts down for business during the holidays. Films that open on Christmas Day usually have been seen by Academy voters weeks in advance, either on a screener or at a private screening event. This year, the nominees were announced on January 15. Shift that date forward by two weeks, and the race already runs a little quicker.

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