Oscars bosses tinker with film award rules

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The Independent Culture

The Academy Awards have changed the rules governing how many films are nominated for the coveted Best Picture award at Hollywood's top annual prize show, they announced.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors has also tinkered with the rules of a number of other categories at the Oscars, the climax of Tinsel Town's annual awards season.

The number of films nominated for Best Picture was increased from five to 10 in the last two years' shows, in a move which allowed a greater range of movies into the running for the top prize.

But critics say this has led to movies being nominated which did not merit it, and the Academy's governors voted Tuesday to a new system which will produce a shortlist of between five and 10 movies.

Retiring Academy boss Bruce Davis, who recommended the changes, said the Oscars body should not be compelled to choose 10 movies if they were not all merited.

"In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies," said Davis.

"A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn't feel an obligation to round out the number," he said.

The final round of voting by the Academy's roughly 6,000 voting members will continue to employ the preferential system, to ensure that the winning film is backed by more than half of the voters.

This year's Best Picture winner was British royal drama "The King's Speech," which was widely seen as being in a two-horse race with Facebook movie "The Social Network."

A few other nominees were seen as having an outside chance, but skeptics said several in the 10-strong list were chosen effectively as padding, because of the fixed number of films required.

In other changes, the Academy decided to automatically include the increasingly competitive Animated Feature film category - rather than decided on a year-by-year basis whether to include it.

They increased the number of contenders for nominations in the visual effects category, while the governors have also changed the rules for the eligibility of documentary films.

Next year's Oscars nominees will be announced on January 24, while the annual show itself will take place on Sunday, February 26, 2012.

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