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Oscar Rule Changes. It's about time with the Makeup & Hair, Academy

They finally listened! Or, rather...

We are now allowing ourselves to freely fantasize that our annual griping here at TFE for the past forever years that Makeup and Hair deserves as many nominations as any other filmmaking craft, planted the seeds that eventually led to discussions on the other coast. The Academy announced that there will be five nominees going forward in the category starting this next season. (We've already adjusted this year's April Foolish Prediction Chart). Should we go power-mad, loyal readers??

Alas, nope.  The other rule change we've requested for a long time, didn't happen...

We've always maintained that movies should have to be theatrically released in more than just Los Angeles (the top 5 or 6 markets in the US seems fair to us) to better involve actual paying audiences and end the cheating-in-spirit practice of "qualifying" releases). Sadly, this did not come to fruition...

The Academy were actually discussing qualifying releases but only in terms of Netflix's interruptive power. But that one week in Los Angeles only was a terrible system to begin with, long before Netflix even existed, because it encourages these absurd practices where a movie can end up Oscar nominated before any paying audiences have had the opportunity to see it. Many Oscar fans used to be on our side about this rule but the weird genuflecting to a corporation a lot of people happen to ike (Netflix) has caused the issue to be reframed and now armchair and professional Oscar-pundits seem to love the pre-existing qualifying release rule. Le sigh.

The other rule changes of note this year: Best Foreign Language Film will now be called Best International Film. Here's a very important note: That title change does not change any of the important rules that we're familiar with in this category. The submission process is still the same (one film per country) and the movies still have to have to be predominantly in a non-English language to qualify. In other words the UK and Ireland and Australia, for example, are not going to suddenly have an advantage because they're working primarily in the same language spoken by Oscar. Those countries will still going only be able to choose between a tiny portion of the films that are made there, the ones in a non-English tongue. In addition to the title change, there will now be 10 finalists instead of 9 before the nominations are named (the general Academy will choose 7 of them and the Executive Committee the other 3). 10 finalists still doesn't make much sense for symmetry's sake (Best Documentary Feature has always had 15, so why shouldn't International Film?) but it's better than 9!

Two very minor rule adjustments involving Animated Films also happened. Animated shorts (as well as live-action shorts) were previously eligible for nominations if they won an Academy approved prize at an Oscar qualifying film festival but now they can become eligible the same way features can with a one week theatrical release in Los Angeles (hmmm, would people buy movie tickets to see one short? or will we see more short filmmakers banding together to release "packages" of shorts into theaters to qualify?). As for Animated Features there no longer needs to be 8 films released in a film year to trigger the category (this was kind of silly to "change" since there are always more than 8 now and there are usually far more than 16 which was the number required to activate a full 5-wide category... though the new rules make no mention of a certain number of films to require 5 nominees so perhaps that rule was also voted out though it is not mentioned in the Academy's press release. (We haven't had a Best Animated Feature contest with less than 5 nominees since 2010.)

Are you happy with the rule changes?

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Reader Comments (15)

I am delighted about Hair/Makeup! It’s pretty insulting to the craft that it took them this long, but whatever!

Best International Film is pretty misleading. Although lengthy, maybe they should’ve taken from the BAFTA’s “Best Film Not in the English Language” or something like that?

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

The “Foreign Language” award change name feels right, given that the United States has no official language, and technically no language would be foreign (again this is a technicality). But “International Film” seems like an odd name since I tend to think of international films as being films made in places that aren’t the US.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I thought of you with the make-up announcement, Nat. It's like all the letter writing paid off :D

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Very pleased to see that the Hair and Make-up professionals now get to compete on the same playing field as everyone else. Why such a logical and fair move took so long speaks volumes about the Academy. Still better late than never.
Same reaction to International Films, it's a slightly better monniker, and fits in with what other award shows do.
I'm with you, it's ridiculous that booking a film to run 1 week in LA is enough to qualify for a nomination. It's way too low a bar, and geographically ludicrous. That political battle is going to get even uglier before things get better. Money is talking, a lot of people are now employed by Netflix, so it's harder to take a public stand. This makes clear thinking long term policy making much more difficult.

April 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Come on. We all know the real reason.

Like the rest of us, the Academy endured that horrible, awkward Hair and Makeup acceptance speech a few months ago, and they wanted to reduce the chances of that happening again, from 1-in-3 to 1-in-5.

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

You passively did it! Remember to actively use your connections now big man, no more faux humbleness :)

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWerk

Best International Film........ pffff.. not sounds like great..

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeri

Nathaniel, you have been calling for a move to five nominees for Makeup and Hairstyling for years, so well done for flying the flag and I like to think that any self-respecting Acadmy member is an avid Film Experience reader, so definitely bragging rights to you!

Not sure how I feel about the name change to Best International Film, but "Foreign" is one of my least-favourite words so it's good to see that go.

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

No new policy could correct their problem with Glenn Close.

fdr -- bitch don't you dare impersonate me after this post

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

The make up artists guild must be very poorly articulated. The make up has always been of great importance for the movies - not only the one that creates monsters or the aging one, that one that turns common women into goddesses. Unbelievable but it only became a regular category in 1982. Not surprisingly - costumes, another important department for cinema, only entered the Oscar race in the late 1940s. Better late than never.

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMelchiades

Make up means Makeup. Sorry.

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMelchiades

It's absolutely ridiculous that the Makeup & Hair category was so limited until just now. About effin' time!

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Next they need to combine the two sound editing categories into one.

April 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

So happy to hear about the Make-Up and Hairstyling branch getting 5 nominees. FINALLY!

"International Film" sounds a little clunky given that American films can be co-productions with other nations or can be international thematically (Babel comes to mind).

I'm with you about the desire to have more shortlisted foreign language-- er, "international"-- films, but they have to be able to screen them in one weekend for the executive committee, right? 15 films would be quite cumbersome.

April 28, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

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