Academy Board of Governors to meet and discuss potential rule changes

How did you feel about the Best Picture scenario last year? As in, the rule change — implemented last June — that set us up for a final slate of anywhere from five to 10 nominees, depending on what number of contenders managed 5% of the Academy’s #1 votes? Because now might be the time to voice those concerns, in case anyone who matters might be reading.

I realized the window on rules and eligibility changes was swiftly closing (as typically we get an announcement in mid-June), so I shot off an email to Academy brass pulse-taker Steve Pond at The Wrap. He tells me the committees from each branch meet and recommended rule changes to the Board of Governors following the Oscars each year and that the board will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the recent recommendations and perhaps enact some actual changes. The delay, he reckons, could have something to do with figuring out how to implement online voting, which could impact some of the procedures.

“I suspect they won’t change the variable number of Best Picture nominees because to do so would be to admit defeat after only one year,” Pond wrote back. “But it’s possible the decision is still up in the air.”

Admission of defeat or not, I think few would argue that last year’s move wasn’t much more than arbitrary. The good thing was it gave us some suspense in the category, as no one knew how many nominees there would be. In the end, there were nine, which was itself a shocker since the Academy’s own internal recounting of the past decade’s votes using the current rules only presented one instance of as many nominees. Most prognosticators were banking on seven or eight tops.

The big surprise nominee was “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” which only showed up in one other category (Best Supporting Actor). Indeed, for the most part, the three year experiment of having a widened field has provided, as Guy so eloquently put it a few weeks back, “a safety net for falling Oscar-bait” more than anything else.

To say nothing of how the move has been viewed by those in the industry. One filmmaker whose film was nominated for Best Picture in the last three years put it to me thusly: “It’s great to be nominated, but it’s still an asterisk. We didn’t even get a say in any of this.”

Last year’s shift provided for passion votes to shine more than ever, but still, it felt like half-measures when most just hope the Academy eventually goes back to five nominees and leaves all of this behind. And if the new AMPAS president, who will be elected in August, has any strong opinions on the matter, it’s unlikely he or she could push anything significant through that late in the game. But you never know.

So tomorrow’s meeting is it, with a press release on the outcome later in the week. I don’t know what the various committees may have suggested to the board, but I’d nevertheless be interested to hear what changes the readers think should be considered across the various categories.

So have your say in the comments section below on that, and particularly on the Best Picture situation. You never know who may be reading.