The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the upcoming 81st Academy Awards at a meeting Tuesday night. Rule changes in the categories of original song and foreign language film seemed to be a direct result from controversies during last year's awards season.
The screening event at which music branch members view clips of eligible songs will still be held, but DVDs of the clips will be made available to members unable to attend the screening.
The foreign language film nominations have long been a point of major contention among cineastes, as many of the most lauded titles from the annual film festival circuit are overlooked at Oscar nomination-time in favor of less challenging, more easygoing fare.
Last year, the Romanian abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days," winner of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival before playing to acclaim around the globe, was unable to even make the pre-nominations shortlist.
The new rules will allow the 20-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee to determine three of the nine films on the shortlist. The other six titles will be determined by the voting of the "Phase 1 committee," any voting member who views a minimum number of eligible films. The executive committee will make their selections after the Phase 1 committee's voting has been tallied, presumably to avoid leaving out certain titles.
Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22. The live telecast presentation of the awards will be on Feb. 22.
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