Oscars Watch: Documentary & Animated Feature Category Rule Changes

The Documentary Feature category is facing some changes following last year’s season. When O.J. Made In America starting sweeping the awards, everyone was scratching their heads a little, as the “film” is definitely more of a mini-series or limited run series than a feature film. With a run-time of seven hours and forty-seven minutes, how it got a theatrical run, I am very curious. But there was no denying that of the choices, it blew the competition away. That will change now, as multi-part documentary series will not be considered. Why things like Making A Murderer and The Jinx were never considered during their respected years, I’m uncertain, but everyone is already a little glum that the Netflix series Five Came Back, a documentary series with five different prolific directors behind it. This will open up the way for other deserving documentaries, however, that are feature length.

The other change happened in the Animated Feature category, opening the voting process to the entire Academy instead of just the animation branch. Many are saying this is in response to the major studios stepping in and fighting for the change. When films like Finding Dory get beat by films like The Red Turtle or My Life As A Zucchini, like happened this past year, it probably does not make major studios very happy and if the entire Academy body is voting, and now in the preferential ballot (i.e. the Best Picture category), a film has to be number one or number two more often than any others to find itself a nomination. Hopefully this won’t kill off smaller films, and I have a feeling their will still be large numbers of Academy voters willing to lobby for smaller, Indie films, because one of the spices of the Academy Awards is discovering new films that you wouldn’t otherwise see.

Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards are announced on January 23, 2018 with the ceremony taking place on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

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