As surely as the weather cools and kids go back to school en masse, we begin to shift gears towards Phase One of Awards Season. That's the pre-nomination time frame when all the hype and guessing gives way to actual buzz (or not) and more educated guessing as the films arrive and are met with shrugs, boos, huzzahs, and precursor nominations . On nomination morning, Oscar gets the last word. Phase One happens to be my favorite part of awards season and today we learn that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has shortened my joy by two whole weeks!
I've had to adjust our side bar widget. That was a quick two weeks we lost! Nominations will now come early on January 10th. That's just 112ish days from now and every 24 hours will count. Which means that instead of the usual month between nominations and Hollywood's High Holy Night we'll have a painful six weeks of running on fumes with the narrower range of people and films to talk about. People are going to be so sick of the chosen few by Oscar night!
This early nomination news arrived on the heels of the news of a delay: Les Misérables has abandoned its December 14th release date and will try its luck with everything else come Christmas time. Voters won't have much time to see that particular movie -- or many others. This might mean that the precursors will be more influential than ever, essentially filling out voter ballots for them by narrowing their focus when they're losing it in a sea of screeners --all of which they're expected to watch over their holiday breaks. Since the studios simply refuse to give up their beloved December 18th-31st strategy -- the only one they have implicit trust in -- the best thing that could ever happen in Oscar world is two consecutive years of voters enjoying their family over the holidays instead and burning their screeners and only nominating films they'd seen earlier in the year.
Shut up -- I'm allowed to fantasize! It would just be seismic for the enjoyment of serious films all year round because the industry would have to rethink. But that's another topic and a broken record round these parts!
With so little time for the buzz to settle in December before voting I suspect we'll have a less volatile season than usual with fewer surprises on nomination morning and the studios will have more say in what gets nominated since they can control the dialogue better before people see the movies.
Important Dates to Know
Dec 1st Governors Awards
Dec 13th Golden Globe Nominations
Dec 17th Oscar Nomination Voting Begins
Jan 3rd Oscar Nomination Voting Ends and PGA Nominees Announced
Jan 8th DGA Nominees Announced
Jan 10th Oscar Nominations Announced
Jan 13th GOLDEN GLOBES NIGHT
Feb 4th Oscar Luncheon
Feb 8th Final Voting Begins
Feb 19th Final Voting Ends
Feb 24th OSCAR NIGHT
Which brings me to another question that's been needling me...
You may recall that when they first announced the new voting strategy for Best Picture (the one in which the number of nominees would change each year depending on how many films muster up enough votes) we were told that they had run the numbers on the past several years of 5 nominees only and found that there would have been years with 5,6,7,8, and 9 nominees (but never 10 though the rules allow for it). But here's the catch that no one discussed at the time. The numbers were run on past ceremonies in which every voter was fully aware that only 5 films would be nominated. Many pundits and casual Oscar watchers were surprised last year -- i know I was -- to see 9 nominees in the inaugural year of the new rule. I just didn't see the support for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close but lately I've been wondering...
Does the knowledge that the rules are different fundamentally change the way Oscar members vote?
Think it over. If, in years past, your favorite film of the year was one which had zero traction, would you have thrown your vote to your second favorite instead since everyone agreed that one was a legit spoiler possibility for Best Picture? Now that members are fully aware that up to 10 films can be nominated if they can find enough ardent fans, it seems likely that a 5 wide Best Picture year is a thing of the past. Why would anyone abandon their favorites in this new more permissive climate?