With the most recent Oscars once again becoming a flashpoint for debates around Hollywood diversity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday announced yet more changes aimed at making the annual awards show more inclusive. Most notably, the Oscars will expand the Best Picture field back to a guaranteed ten nominees, as it was in 2009 and 2010 — a shift that back then resulted in greater recognition for small films like Precious, An Education, and Winter’s Bone. The Academy will also team up with the Producers Guild to create a task force that will come up with “representation and inclusion standards” for awards eligibility. Exactly what those standards are is TBD (it’ll be announced in July) but if you want a preview, in 2018 the BAFTAs created a similar set of rules without the British film industry descending into totalitarianism. And the Academy’s new streaming platform will host a series of quarterly screenings of new releases, in the hopes of earning more Oscar buzz for films released outside the traditional late-fall awards season.
All three of the shifts will kick in beginning with the 94th Oscars, which are currently scheduled to take place in early 2022. The 93rd Oscars remain in flux thanks to the coronavirus essentially shutting down the film industry, though they are expected to be delayed.
Beyond these, AMPAS also unveiled new internal mandates aimed at combating the sentiments that have given them such bad headlines recently, including mandatory unconscious bias training for high-ranking members of the Academy, term limits for Academy governors, and a series of panel discussions, including one hosted by Whoopi Goldberg about the history of Hollywood racism.
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