It doesn’t even need to be awards season for us to already start complaining about the Oscars and how certain films land nominations or wins which just don’t sit right. One of the big movies that won an Oscar this past year was OJ: Made in America. Those that have DSTV and some select streaming services would’ve noticed that the documentary was actually aired as a multipart mini-series and not in its full 7.5 hour glory as it was at the Sundance film Festival. While the length of the documentary made it ultimately too long for mainstream cinema, hence the move to a TV series format, it was still controversial for winning an award for movies in what eventually became a TV series.
The resultant furor around the decision has resulted in the Academy, as reported by Deadline, deciding to change the rules from next year to ensure that all documentaries that are eventually turned into limited or multi-part mini-series, are exempt from the award.
This means that if the film came out next year, OJ: Made in America wouldn’t even be nominated, let alone win. It’s not an indictment on the show itself which received excellent reviews and was largely seen as one of, if not the best documentary of 2016. It’s only fair though that the Academy sets the rules clearly to ensure that any future areas like this are clearly defined.
That was not the only change that the Academy made to the voting system however. The rules behind the Best Animated Film have also changed to more align with the Best Picture Award (as reported by Dark Horizons). Before this change only a select few who were involved in the animated film world could vote for nominations. And while the award was nominees were still voted on by the entire ballot, the academy is now also going to apply a preferential system for the award, the same way the Best Picture Award is chosen.
For those unfamiliar with how this works, most awards are chosen on a numerical basis where the person/movie with the most votes wins. With the preferential system used for the Best Picture Award though it becomes a little more complicated as voters put down the names of films they vote first, second and third and then votes are tallied up on a points system. Essentially meaning that a movie can win Best Picture by not capturing the most number 1 votes, but by being more consistently voted for across the board. It’s a complicated system, but one that people have generally found to be quite fair and favourable.
What will this all mean for the Best Animated award category though? Well, with the nomination process opened up, its likely we will see more big name films nominated as opposed to the relatively obscure movies that crop up for nomination each year. A pity for these small and very credible films. It will hopefully lead to some different decisions for Best Animated Film in future. The Academy typically doesn’t reveal the vote counts for films, so we have no idea how that might have impacted any of the previous years’ awards.
Overall, these are interesting decisions. Probably the right ones made by the Academy, but after the excellent nomination decision from the recent MTV Movie Awards, I’d like to see more progress made in changing the gender based awards categories and also putting fixed rules for Lead and Supporting Actors which gets flouted almost every year. More recently 2016 award winner Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl who won the Best Supporting Actress Award despite taking up the most screen time in the movie and being the definite lead. Do we even need to distinguish between Lead and Support?
Times are changing in the awards world and hopefully they will get even more progressive and fair. Or they could just scrap them entirely and give the power to the viewers and the films they go see. That would make Michael Bay all of a sudden one of the most award-winning directors… Okay, maybe it’s not as good an idea as it sounds.