Every year, there's a little bit that gets changed around at The Academy Awards. This year is no different as members congregated to hold a vote on various new laws that will instated for eligibility at next year's ceremony. While the debatable "big shocker" is that they didn't vote to lower the Best Picture category from its current 5-10 nominees to a solidified five (likely due to this being a strong year for genre films from Mad Max: Fury Road to Inside Out), there were small things that are going to help make the playing field more even. The big changes will be discussed immediately following the jump.
Before I get to the big changes, let me just state that we have no big new categories announced. There will be the same 24 categories that we have had for some time. For those (like me) who would like to recognize, say, Best Stunt Coordinator or Best Motion Capture Actor, we will have to wait until another day since The Academy will not be voting on changes until next year. By comparison, there aren't that many interesting new rules thrown in, but ones that definitely change how one is eligible.
1. Best Picture remains the same except for what qualifies one for eligibility as a producer. The rules now state that one must be approved by the Producers Guild of America (PGA). The only other option is to appeal their "refusal of such eligibility." From there, it will be decided by The Academy's Producers Branch Executive Committee. This is following last year's controversy involving Boyhood in which producers John Sloss and Jonathan Sehring were disqualified.
2. Best Visual Effects is increasing its shortlist. In the past, there have been a total of 15 contenders. There will now be 20, which will be narrowed down to 10 and then the final 5.
3. Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short entries can now only qualify by playing at a theater in Los Angeles County, CA for a minimum period of 7 days and with at least one screening per day. It was originally qualified by a 4 day run. They can also qualify by winning 1 of the 150 top awards from 85 qualifying film festivals, or the Student Academy Award. Showtimes must also appear in theater listings.
4. Best Documentary Short has been expanded its shortlist from 8 entries to a total of 10. The varying 3-5 final nominees will also now be slotted to have a definitive 5.
5. Campaigning featured some minor tweaking, but nothing significant has changed.
The Academy also voted on potential new members, which will be announced later in the week. The next ceremony will be held on February 28, 2016 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, CA. The nominations voting will begin on December 30 and the finalists will be announced on January 14, 2016.