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New Rules for the 92nd Oscars: Makeup & Hairstyling gets five noms; 7-day eligibility run holds

The Board of Governors of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held their annual board meeting tonight and came out with a handful of new rules, amendments and changes that will go into effect at the next Academy Awards.

Changes to Animated Feature, Foreign Language Film (now called International Feature Film), Makeup and Hairstyling and the Animated and Documentary Shorts will all be impacted.

Makeup and Hairstyling will expand from three to five nominees, the first change for this category (other than its name) since it was created in 1981 as the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Usually, only three films are nominated each year rather than five as in most categories. The exception is in 1981, 1982 and 1987 as well as 2002, when there were only two nominees; and in 1999, when there were four nominees.

Much heat has surrounded the perceived (and incorrect) fight between Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg and streaming giant Netflix over what qualifies as a film for the Oscars and the rumors around Hollywood that one of the new rules might be a longer Los Angeles run for Oscar eligibility. That didn’t end up happening and the Board chose to hold Rule Two, which maintains that a film must run consecutively for seven days in Los Angeles by the end of the calendar year.

The other surprise was no talk at all of the so-called ‘Popular Film’ Oscar that was floated last August as a future award for, well, they never established what the parameters would have been. After being met with resounding backlash, that idea was quickly yanked and didn’t show up tonight either.

The changes and amendments are as follows:

In the Animated Feature category, the theatrical release of eight eligible animated features in the calendar year is no longer required for the awards category to be activated.  In addition, nominations voting will be automatically open to all active members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. Other active voting members of the Academy must opt-in to participate in the nominations round.

The Foreign Language Film category name has been changed to International Feature Film.

“We have noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” commented Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee. “We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”

The category name change does not change any existing category rules, the submission process, or eligibility requirements.  An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.  Animated and documentary feature films are permitted. Only one film is accepted from each country as the official selection.

In addition, the shortlist for the International Feature Film award is expanding to ten films; seven to be chosen by the Phase I International Feature Film Committee, and the additional three to be voted by the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee.  

In the Makeup and Hairstyling category, the number of nominated films is increasing from three to five, and the shortlist is increasing from seven to ten.  In addition, the bake-off reels for the films shall not exceed seven minutes in total running time.

In the Short Film categories, Animated and Live Action Short Films now have the option to qualify theatrically in either the City of New York or Los Angeles County to be eligible for submission.   

The Academy’s Board of Governors voted to maintain Rule Two, Eligibility for the 92nd Oscars.  The rule states that to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission. Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” said Academy President John Bailey. “Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

Other amendments to the rules include standard date changes and “housekeeping” adjustments.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees.  The Awards and Events Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for final approval.

The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.  The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

The complete 92nd Academy Awards rules are available at oscars.org/rules.

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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