Oscars: The new rules pertaining to documentary and animated features

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The Oscar-related rule changes announced Friday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — in particular, those pertaining to the documentary feature and animated feature categories — received far less media coverage than recent developments regarding the best picture Oscar debacle and envelope-botcher PwC’s future with the show.

But make no mistake about it: They will have a far greater impact on the next Oscar race and perhaps many to follow. (Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees; the awards rules committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the board of governors for approval, which took place this year at the board’s March 28 meeting.)

The new mandate impacting documentaries could be called “The O.J. Rule,” since it was inspired by ESPN Films’ O.J.: Made in America, the five-part, 7.5-hour epic that the 277-member doc branch nominated for — and the entire Academy then awarded — best doc feature earlier this year.

Many branch members had expressed reservations about nominating O.J., not because it’s not great — almost everyone who saw it felt it is — but because they weren’t sure it really was principally created to be a film doc rather than a TV docuseries and feared that recognizing it would encourage other TV networks and/or their film divisions to provide Oscar-qualifying runs for a multitude of docuseries before airing them on TV — something that the branch is not equipped to handle, inundated as it already is by traditional-length submissions. (This past year, 145 doc features qualified for Oscar consideration.)

See more at THR.

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