The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not change eligibility rules for the Oscars, according to a recent report by Variety. This news came after a governors board meeting on Tuesday voted to maintain current rules, meaning that any feature-length film can be considered for the big awards as long as they have a one week theatrical run in Los Angeles, with three screenings a day minimum. ‘Films can hit alternative release platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime on or after the first day of a run and remain eligible’, according to Variety.
In a statement given by Academy President John Bailey, he said, ‘We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration.’ He also noted that the board would focus on and ‘further study the profound changes occurring in our industry.’
This news comes after a contentious few months with the Academy as big-name members like Steven Spielberg lobbied heavily for a change in rules to preserve the theatrical experience and eliminate those that did not prioritize a wide release for their films. Given how well Netflix did this year at the Oscars thanks to Roma, the move felt highly reactionary to many film fans (although not as reactionary as them giving Green Book Best Picture). Arguments broke out over the value of the cinematic experience, the diversifying of the film industry, the shifts in audience expectations and preferred methods of viewing, and wider questions over who gets to make movies and why. It’s not a debate that’ll go away any time soon, and nor should it, although I still resent having to view Netflix of all damn companies as some heroic underdog of the independent masses.
The Academy did make one big change, however. The Best Foreign Language Film category has now been renamed to Best International Film. It’s a worthy decision and evolution from the outdated othering of ‘foreign’ in this context, although International Feature feels a tad too broad. I imagine all the plummy British period dramas won’t qualify in that category.
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