The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka AMPAS aka The Oscars aka "That Organization That The Media And Public Are Constantly Calling 'Irrelevant' Whilst They Disprove Their Point By Talking About Said Organization Incessantly") has changed their rulebooks yet again and opened their figurative doors to new players. Their reasoning and criteria remain, as ever, a mystery to those of us with strong opinions on the matter.
Here's what happened...
The bakeoff system is a bit different now. Ten films will be selected as semi-finalists. The branch will then vote and five will become nominees.
TFE DECREES: Smart, humane move after those years with only 6 or 7 semi-finalists... which was embarrassingly like being "the last one picked" when you didn't end as a nominee.
Makeup (and Hairstyling!)
New Rule: It's a name change from Best Makeup to Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
TFE Decrees: Good Move But Entirely Cosmetic. The award was already meant to include hairstyling if it greatly contributed to the film -- you'll remember that Meryl Streep's longtime hairdresser won for The Iron Lady last year. The name change will only matter if the branch that's voting takes the name change to heart and starts conveying, through their nominations, that they care about things other than werewolf makeup and old age latex. The last few years have shown a bit of willingness to shake up this category for the better so good on them.
Best Foreign Film
New Rule: Films still have to be submitted in 35mm to AMPAS for consideration but they no longer have to screen that way in their home countries.
TFE Decrees: Good, though only 0.000001% of Oscar watchers will ever notice. But anything to loosen restrictions up for the committees in other countries who have to decide which film best represents them.
Best Original Song
New Rule: In special circumstances four songwriters can now become nominees. The number was three.
TFE Decrees: Excuse me .... [raucous laughter] ... how does this even matter since the system as is keeps refusing a full slate of nominees? It's as if the music branch is completely ashamed of their craft and considers nothing worthy. The only thing that would fix this category is a complete overhaul of the rules and maybe even the branch members. The voting system, in which you can actually torpedo viable popular contenders by giving them terrible scores, is the problem... not the number of songwriters credited.
176 NEW ACADEMY MEMBERS!
This is the best part of AMPAS changes each year, since it's fun to look at who is finally "in" and scratch your head at what took so long. Trying to parse meaning behind the newbie invites is a fool's errand since their criteria are suspicously vague. Non-distinguished actors, for example, are invited each year and yet sometimes they don't invite one of the actual Oscar nominees. Michelle Williams was a strange example as she was not an Academy member until some years after Brokeback Mountain.
Ten invitees I was extremely happy about... (excluding last year's nominees which are too obvious to chat about): ACTORS - Fine character actors Margo Martindale ("Carol"!!!! from Paris Je T'Aime) and Clifton Collins Jr (Traffic), gorgeous actresses who should be much bigger stars like Kerry Washington and Michelle Yeoh, and Andy Serkis who will undoubtedly be in the history books given his pioneering role in a newish form of acting; VISUAL TALENTS - Production Designer Maria Djurkovic who did such surpassingly excellent Oscar snubbed work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Cinematographer Alwin Kuchler who recently wowed with Hanna, MAKEUP ARTIST -Toni G (who did the Oscar statue worthy Oscar snubbed work on Charlize Theron's Monster); DIRECTORS -Wong Kar Wai and Terrence Malick (!!! Perhaps he's refused them in the past?)
How are you receiving all this Oscar news? With indifference or excitement?