Oscar 2020: Changes in Rules (Eligibility, Sound, Score, International Feature)

The 93rd Oscars ceremony is still set to take place, as originally scheduled, on February 28, 2021.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors on Tuesday morning voted during a secure Zoom session on a number of significant changes.

This season films can qualify for the competition without screening for at least one week in a Los Angeles-area theater.  The change is based on the fact that all movie theaters in L.A. and most of the country remain shuttered indefinitely.

Instead, films scheduled for theatrical release, that meet the other eligibility requirements and that are made available for Academy members to view on the organization’s Academy Screening Room, within 60 days of being made available on a publicly available streamer or VOD service will be in the running.

This covers any and all pics that scrapped their theatrical release due to the coronavirus crisis in favor of another method of reaching viewers.

The awards rules committee, which is currently chaired by the Academy’s first vice president Lois Burwell and comprised of a dozen governors, emphasized that this should be a one-time adjustment, but that it is not fair to punish companies and filmmakers who felt or feel the need, for reasons financial or otherwise, to get their work out to the world prior to the resumption of traditional moviegoing.

The board will revert to its prior Oscar-eligibility requirements when it — in consultation with health experts — concludes that theatrical moviegoing is once again safe. At that time, it will expand the number of cities in which a film can screen for a week to qualify, adding five more on top of L.A.: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta.

Tuesday’s virtual gathering also resulted in a number of changes for the coming awards season.

Best Sound

The two sound Oscars — best sound editing and best sound mixing — have been consolidated into one, best sound, which will recognize both editors and mixers.

This change reduces the number of Oscars presented on the telecast from 24 to 23 ( again of 2 to 3 minutes)

Best Original Score

To be eligible for the best original score Oscar, at least 60 percent of a film’s music must be original, as opposed to “predominantly” original, the prior standard.

Best International Feature

All Academy members, not just those who attend screenings at the organization’s headquarters in Beverly Hills, will be able to vote and determine the best international feature Oscar shortlist. The submissions will be made available for streaming via the Academy Screening Room.