Depending on who you are, the half dozen Oscar categories that offer up shortlists are either some of the most frustrating or most interesting ones out there. In seeing what has advances closer to Academy Award nominations, you get to see which contenders are over-performing, as well as which have already been eliminated. This leads to more than occasional grumbles about worthy films being snubbed early, but overall it’s a nice bit of transparency that’s often missing in the awards season. Well, get ready for two more categories to operate this way, as the Academy have tinkered with their rules again.
According to Variety, Best Original Score and Best Original Song will now have shortlists to pour over. They will join the six other current Oscar categories that follow this procedure, hopefully mixing up the nominees going forward. Voters tend to not give these categories the same thought that they do the majors, even though they contain some of the most moving work of any given year. Perhaps now that issue will be resolved going forward? If nothing else, it’s an acknowledgement by the powers that be that the current method was not delivering an ideal slate of nominees.
Here is how the article describes the process now:
The new process applies to both the original score and original song categories, adding a preliminary round: The branch will use a preferential voting system to produce a shortlist of 15 titles in each category, according to the new rule. A second round of balloting will produce the final list of five nominees in each.
Six other Oscar categories also operate this way, creating a shortlist from which the final nominees are culled: documentary feature, visual effects, foreign language film, makeup/hairstyling, animated short and live-action short. The sound editing category used a similar method up until 2006.
Furthermore, the piece has a source giving this reason for the change:
An Academy spokesperson said the committee was concerned that the large number of scores entered for Oscar consideration often led to the same composer choices year after year, and that creating an advance “shortlist” might give lesser-known films a better shot at nomination.
This does seem like a good change, overall. Original Score does usually go back to the same will, composer wise, again and again. As for Original Song, the category has been suffering for years, so this can only help. Time will tell, but it seems like Oscar has tinkered in a positive way here.