Circuit 3: Academy Changes

ben-affleck-george-clooney-win-best-picture-oscar-for-argoNow that we  have had a few days to recover from this crazy award season, let’s take a moment to reflect. This year so many unique things happened this awards season and many of them were derived from changes the Academy made. Of course like any change, there are sometimes problems along the way like the well documented troubles with the online system and the kneecapping of December contenders that occurred when they changed the Phase 1 deadline mid-year. However slowly, the Academy has adapted to the shifting landscape of the awards season and film. But what more could they do? Well today’s Circuit 3 attempts to answer the question: what changes would you like to see the Academy make?

1. Stop using the host as a ploy for ratings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to improve ratings for the Oscars. It is a TV show and requires ads to pay for it, so by all means go and look for new ways to get people to watch the show. But don’t pick a host specifically because you want young people to watch when you know it won’t play well. Seth Macfarlane is a gifted comedian and showman but under the Academy purview he was so bland and restrained that I couldn’t even get worked up at how offensive he was and I won’t even go into the debacle that was James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Few people who have the slightest interest in film and the Oscars are tuning in because of the host. If you look at the highest rated telecasts, the reason they were so watched is because of the films nominated, not the host.

2. Go Back to 10 Best Picture nominees. This might just be something petty but I generally hate lists that aren’t multiples of 5 (Circuit 3 excepted). This sliding scale thing just gave us back to back years of 9 nominees, so what would have been the issue with 10?  The real reason I think the Academy should go back to 10 is that it really forces the voters to take stock of an entire year and determine what the best films to represent that year are. How thrilling was it to see District 9 and Inception among the nominees? Even though I abhor The Blind Side, I can argue that it deserved to be in that Best Picture lineup based on its importance to the film year. I don’t think 10 nominees ruins the exclusivity of the award considering something like 400 films are released a year, but it certainly could help those ratings and the public opinion.

3. Change the (Foreign language and qualifying run) eligibility rules. I kind of cheated here but these are two rules I have a big problem with. This business of only allowing one film per country to compete doesn’t help improve international cinema in this country and also breeds spite for famous filmmakers (see Spain’s treatment of Almodovar since about 2002). If France or Spain or Iran or some country we’ve yet to hear about have 3 of the best foreign language films of the year and they get nominated, what’s the big deal? Another issue I have is with this foolishness that is the one week qualifying run in NYC and LA. I am fully aware many producers use the Oscar noms as a way to generate business, but this policy is so elitist and anti-consumer. How are you going to declare something the best of the year and 96% of the country won’t get to see the film till January or February of the next year, if at all? Amour and Zero Dark Thirty didn’t open till Jan 18 in Houston where I live, a city with 2 million people and the number 6 media market! I think that being nominated for any kind of award has to be earned via critical clout, box office, word of mouth and this current policy doesn’t help with that. I’d like to see them go to a 5 out of the top 10 major market minimum for one week qualifying release. 

What are the 3 changes you think the Academy should make?

What do you think?

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Written by Terence Johnson

When he's not enduring Shade Samurai training from Victoria Grayson, you can find Terence spends his time being an avid watcher of television, Criterion film collector, Twitter addict, and awards season obsessive. Opinionated but open minded, ratchet but with class, Terence holds down the fort as the producer of the Power Hour podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeNoirAuteur.


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Patrick Murray

1. Make the nominating and final voting results public. We can then see how fans of The Master or Skyfall voted after they were eliminated. I would love to see how many votes Beasts got or how close the best supporting actor truly was. 2. Back to 10 nominees for Best Picture. Not much else to say except for if we are going to have 9, why not 10? 3. This is more of a 2012 restructure that I want, but 3 of the 5 nominees for Best Original Song were performed. So “Before My Time” and “Pi’s Lullaby” were… Read more »

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

1. Allow an actor to be nominated more than once in a category. If Michael Fassbender gets nominated three times for Best Actor, then so be it.

2. A Screentime percentage rule to eliminate category fraud.

3. Stop making shortlists and keep the damn options open.


Definitely require a certain amount of release time in at least top 5 major markets for eligibility. How can they expect an audience to care about films they won’t get to see until long after the Oscars have left the building. Really tighten and enforce the promotional rules. This season got so bad you expected the producers and agents to be brawling in the streets. Change “foreign film” to the BAFTA “Film not in English language”. It’s much more courteous and open to encourage viewing. Loved the music this year, just wanted more of it. If the songs in a… Read more »


Terence: Absolutely agree with #2 and #3. If different rules had been in place, I think we could’ve, among other things, have had a Foreign Film nomination for HOLY MOTORS. Almost all of the Awards Circuit Could/Should Win columns said it should’ve been there. I also agree with Patrick Murray about publicizing vote totals. I would also love to see those across the years–how many people actually voted for DOCTOR DOLITTLE for Best Picture? 1. Seriously consider introducing some new categories. Stunts and Credits Design come to mind. 2. Extend the time limit on speeches. A minute, at least. Maybe… Read more »

Robbie M.

1. Go back to just 5 best pic nominees. 2. Change foreign film voting to the way they do it for BAFTAs or Golden Globes, or every other awards show for that matter. They way films are chosen for this category has always bugged me and I can’t understand why they haven’t changed it yet. I don’t know anybody who likes the current Oscar system, if there is somebody out there please say so. 3. Stop having the music play off the speeches that run a little long. The point of the show is to honor the people who were… Read more »

Ash Kiddo

I agree completely with your changes Terence. The thing that irks me about the Oscars televised show itself is that the producers are all caught up in adding as many big celebrity names and creating such a big spectacle, that in the midst of this ostentacious extrazaganza they completely forget what this night is suppose to represent – the achievements of the nominees in the year of filmmaking. Prime example would be the musical number. Did we really need to see Catherine Zeta Jones attempt to show the masses that she can still spread her legs, or Jennifer Hudson showing… Read more »

DH Johnson

I think it would be fun to have a different host for each half. Since a single host often loses steam about half way through, this would give the audience something fresh to look forward to.
I’d also like to see more surprises in presenters. We are constantly told who’s next and it kills a little suspense. Michelle Obama was a terrific surprise!
And a nice Chuck Workman montage salute to all the great films and performances of the year that didn’t make the cut would be a nice addition.

Mark Johnson

1. I completely agree with your #2. Go back to 10 or go back to 5. The latter is more likely, but I prefer the 10 because it makes it more unpredictable.
2. Remove preferential voting. It rewards films that are less daring (for lack of a better word).
3. Make the Oscar nomination announcement a primetime, largely advertised, big event. If people take interest in who is nominated, they will take greater interest in who will win.

Jeremy DC

1. Make changes to the foreign film category. Like you said, if France happens to have three of the best, allow those three to be nominated.
2. The Michelle Obama rule. Don’t do stuff like that.
3. Perform all the songs nominated for best song.

The past three years my number one would have been to go back to five nominees but 2012 was the first time I appreciated them having up to ten. I’m sure I won’t feel that way most years but it was necessary last year.

randall gerber

to have a new category:best voice over performance in an animated feature film meaning the academy should on those performances you hear in animation films(not animated shorts).



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