In addition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences suspending certain eligibility requirements to allow films that premier via streaming to still be in consideration for Academy Award nomination, the Academy’s Board of Governors also approved a trio of rules changes for this year’s Oscars race.
The biggest of the three is the combination of the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories into one consolidated category, Best Sound. The Academy states that the change comes after a study of the two categories by the Academy’s sound branch.
In a statement, Karol Urban, president of the Cinema Audio Society, the group that represents Hollywood’s sound mixing community, praised the move. “We understand this decision came about after careful debate and consideration by the sound branch,” she stated. “While points of concern exist, the Cinema Audio Society respects and supports efforts to unify recognition of both sound mixing and sound editorial as a highly aligned team of creatives that are integral to a film’s success.”
No statement from the Motion Picture Sound Editors organization has been released as of publication.
Additionally, the Academy has clarified an eligibility requirement for the Best Original Score category. Where previously the rules stated that a film’s score most be “predominantly” original music, the Academy has now quantified that amount as at least sixty percent while franchise films and sequels must include a minimum of eighty percent new music. The previous vagaries in the wording of the eligibility requirement had caused some consternation of the eligibility of certain films leading to the controversial disqualification of the scores for Birdman (2015) and Arrival (2017).
The last of the notable rules changes concerns what members are eligible to note for the pre-nomination shortlist in the Best International Feature category. Whereas to be eligible to vote before a member had to attend screenings at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills, any member can now be eligible to participate simply by screening the films in contention through the Academy’s members only online streaming service.