April 28 is a great day for Netflix execs and a terrible day for fans of the Oscar-winning “vroom vroom” noises in Ford v. Ferrari. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors met over Zoom to change Oscar eligibility rules, in response to the coronavirus’s effect on movie releases and cinema closures. As Vulture’s Nate Jones predicted, movies will no longer be required to do a one-week theatrical run in the Los Angeles area to qualify for the 2021 Oscars. For the first time, direct-to-streaming movies will qualify for the Academy Awards, meaning my spec script for Tall Girl 2: Tall Girl v. Mothra has a fighting chance at some awards buzz. It also means that Harley Quinn stans probably won’t see the Birds of Prey award sweep they were hoping for. Now, films that had to cancel their theatrical releases will qualify for the Oscars if they’re made available on the voting body’s Academy Screening Room streaming service after their wider public VOD releases. And after this is all over, if this is ever all over, films won’t have to screen in L.A. to qualify; weeklong runs in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta will also count.
The Academy board of governors also voted to consolidate the Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories into one Best Sound award. Also, to qualify for Best Original Score, “at least 60 percent of a film’s music must be original,” which raises questions about the nature of originality in composing: What about recurring franchise motifs? What of homages? We’ll get our answers when the 93rd Academy Awards take place on February 27, 2021.