Oscar Rule Changes Include More Songwriters, Bigger VFX Shortlists

Adjustments to the Academy Awards rules will increase the number of potential Best-Song nominees to four, and tweak the processes for Foreign Language, Makeup and Visual Effects categories

The Academy's Board of Governors made several minor changes to Oscar rules in its annual review of those rules this week, but it left intact the controversial system that produces a variable number of Best Picture nominations.

The board's changes include the Original Song category, in which the Music Branch Executive Committee can now recommend that a fourth songwriter be credited for a nominated song. For the past six years, the number of nominees for any song had been limited to two, or in special circumstances to three.

Academy AwardsRules in the Foreign Language Film category were amended to remove the requirement that the submissions must have been exhibited in their home countries in 35mm or DCP; they must still be submitted to the Academy in one of those formats.

The award for makeup has been renamed Best Makeup and Hairstyling. New rules expand the pool of voters for the nominating round from those who attended a "bakeoff" presentation to all branch members who have seen all seven shortlisted films.  

And in the Visual Effects category, the branch's Executive Committee will now choose 10 films for the shortlist. Previously, it could choose anywhere from seven to 10.

Two years ago, the Academy expanded the number of nominees in that category from three to five.

Other minor changes included what the Academy calls "housekeeping' adjustments."

None of the changes are anywhere near as significant as last year's decision to implement a system designed to yield anywhere between five to 10 nominations in the Best Picture category. Designed to add uncertainty to the Oscar race, that system received mixed reviews after producing an unexpected large slate of nine nominees.