The Academy’s Board of Governors approved new Oscars rules and campaign regulations for the 90th Academy Awards at their most recent Board meeting on March 28.
Of note, in the Documentary categories, multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration. The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will resolve all questions of eligibility and rules. This means that a documentary series like Ezra Edelman’s epic, 7-hour-long “O.J.: Made in America,” which was released as an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary series in multiple parts, may no longer be eligible for Oscar consideration in the future.
By the way, “O.J.: Made in America” won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar this year. Did this rub other nominees the wrong way, perhaps? Although telling a story over 7 hours is certainly not quite the same thing as squeezing it into the standard 2 hours. “O.J.: Made in America” as we know it in its 7-hour form, just wouldn’t be the same film if Edelman had to eliminate an additional 4 to 5 hours of footage to bring its running time down to 2 to 3 hours. And so maybe its length gives it a competitive advantage, because it allows the filmmaker to tell a more comprehensive, impactful story.
Watching a lengthy multi-part documentary is also time-consuming for voters. One has to wonder whether that was also a factor in this decision.
“O.J.: Made in America” likely set a precedent that would allow documentary series that are common on television to become eligible for Oscar consideration if accompanied by an Oscar-qualifying run (a week in one Los Angeles theater, for example). And the Academy wants to put an immediate end to that before it becomes the norm.
Other new rules approved include…
— For the first time, nominations voting in the Animated Feature Film category will be opened up to the entire eligible voting membership. Invitations to join the nominating committee will be sent to all active Academy members, rather than a select craft-based group. Voting in the nominations round will now be preferential instead of based on a numerical scoring system. Members participating on the nominating committee may view films in their theatrical runs or at other screenings, through the Academy’s streaming site or on DVDs/screeners to qualify to vote.
— In the Best Picture category, in determining the number of producers eligible for nomination, a bona fide team of not more than two people shall be considered to be a single “producer” if the two individuals have had an established producing partnership as determined by the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Producing Partnership Panel. Final determination of the qualifying producer nominees for each nominated picture will be made by the Academy’s Producers Branch Executive Committee.
— In the Music (Original Score) category, in the case of a score that has three or more equally contributing composers, the composers may be considered as a group. If the score wins the Original Score award, the group would receive a single statuette.
Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.
For the complete 90th Academy Awards rules and campaign regulations, visit oscars.org/rules.
The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.