Friday, June 29, 2012

New rules for the Academy Awards include Hairstyling

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved rule changes for the upcoming 85th Academy Awards. None are as dramatic as the previously announced changes to the Documentary category. The most significant of the new changes is the introduction of a Hairstyling Award to be jointly given with the Makeup Award.

I'm not so keen on this change. The Makeup Award is already dubious in that it inevitably goes to the most obvious prosthetic or special effects makeup work, never to the more subtle yet artistic work. I suppose this criticism is true of most categories, but makeup especially is almost always best when barely noticed if at all. By tacking hairstyling together with it (and not as a separate category) it will push this further towards the most garish and obvious choice.

I would much prefer if they dealt with making sure the existing categories made the most sense. The Sound Mixing category for instance should not include the location sound mixer, since that is a completely separate job that doesn't require mixing so much as simple recording. Really, there should be one category called Sound Design because separate sound mixing and sound editing categories create both boredom and confusion.

They should also do much more to ensure that the writing award goes to the actual writer(s), rather than using WGA decisions as to who gets credit. While the credit is important for issues of residuals, it may not reflect who did the work used on the film in question. They should also be clearer about the distinction between original and adapted screenplays. Last year, The Social Network won for Adapted Screenplay when it was written concurrently with the book it was supposedly adapted from, while The King's Speech won for Original Screenplay, even though it began as an unproduced play.

I would especially like them to make clear rules for Lead and Supporting acting awards. I think it is ridiculous that Hailee Steinfeld was nominated as a Supporting Actress for True Grit when she was in every scene of that movie. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Anthony Hopkins won for Best Actor in Silence of the Lambs when he was only in several scenes.

Those existing categories are ones that need to be fixed.

Rules Approved for 85th Academy Awards®

Beverly Hills, CA (June 28, 2012) – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved rules for the 85th Academy Awards. The most significant changes affect the Music, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Visual Effects categories.

In the Music (Original Song) category, the Executive Committee may recommend that a fourth songwriter for an individual song be considered in rare and extraordinary circumstances. This amends the rule that has been in effect since 2005, whereby up to two songwriters could be eligible per song, although a third songwriter could be added if he or she were found to be an essentially equal contributor.

In the Foreign Language Film category, films must be submitted to the Academy in 35mm or DCP, but are no longer required to be exhibited in those formats in their countries of origin.

The award given in the Makeup category will now be known as the Makeup and Hairstyling Award. Additionally, during the nominations process, all branch members who have seen the seven shortlisted titles will receive ballots to list their top three choices.

In the Visual Effects category, nominees will be selected from a pool of ten films chosen by the Branch Executive Committee by secret ballot. Previously, the committee could put forward as many as ten productions or as few as seven.

Other adjustments to the rules include standard date changes and other "housekeeping" adjustments.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy's Board of Governors for approval.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

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