Friday, June 20, 2008

Two New Oscar Rules

Best Original Song. Seems there will be no more Dreamgirls, Enchanteds or Beauty and The Beasts hogging the arguably useless Song category anymore. Movies will now be capped at 2 allowable nominations in that oft-dissed 5 wide category. One assumes the only reason they keep this category around is for ratings purposes (believing that the occassional rock star performance or variety show format will boost them). But when there are still no Oscars for Casting Directors or Stunt Men (or Choreographers if we're talking musicals) it does seem a bit gratuitous as awardable film contributions go...

Best Foreign Language Film. The Oscars have only recently tweaked their foreign selection system to include a 9-wide "finalist" round before the traditional 5 nominees are chosen. But tweaking it again, they are. Last year's outrageous shunning of the excellent Cannes-winning Romanian drama 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days won them much bad press (here and elsewhere) so they're adding yet another safeguard against their own general bad taste. The committee which chooses those 9 finalists will now choose only 6. And then an Executive Committee will add the remaining 3 titles.

Theoretically this will mean the following.
Step 1: 60ish movies are submitted from the participating countries. See last year for example. The screening committees then watch them all. They vote and we get 6 movies as "finalists"
Step 2: From the pile of 57ish shunned movies, the "Executives" will (presumably) rescue the 3 titles that have generated enough critical or cultural heat elsewhere (on the festival circuit, etcetera) by which Oscar could get a bad name by their snubbing.
Step 3: The foreign language committee votes from their field of 9 and we end up with the 5 Oscar nominees: France, Italy and 3 other countries. (Sorry, couldn't resist that last sentence)

Potential problem: Bad taste still cannot be outlawed. They are still free to nominate the 5 worst movies from that list of 9.


Anonymous said...

I want a rule that the foreign film nominees have to actually screen in the US!

Robert said...

even if all 9 of last year's foreign film shortlist entries were 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, they still would have found a way not to nominate it.

and as for anonymous's comment... perhaps but a foreign language Oscar nomination is sometimes the only way these movies can get distribution here in the states.

Then again if movies like Akin's Edge of Heaven or Sokurov's Alexandra (just to name a couple from this year) can get distribution without any hope of an Oscar nom... what's the problem?

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

That new Foreign film category rule sounds so much like The Emmy's.

RJ said...

Something tells me that middling movies about the Holocaust are going to continue to win the category for years to come, unfortunately

adam k. said...

Yeah this still won't stop them from snubbing brilliant films like Volver (one of the 9 finalists) and probably wouldn't have saved 4 Weeks.... And it reeks of an attempt to save the committee from itself. Not that I'm against that. But how pathetic that they have to go there AND there's no guarantee it'll help.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I really like the Original Song categories! It's one of my faves year in year out. There are SO many great songs written for films (films of sometimes questionable quality but with amazing songs attached), that I'm surprised how narrowly Oscar casts its net every time. I mean, the eligibility list is normally loaded with brilliant, Oscar-nom-worthy songs, but rarely do the best ones make it to the final shortlist.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel has his own best song category, so he definitely recognizes that there is quality within songwriting for movies.

But when you're celebrating the form of movies, especially when musicals are more uncommon then ever, how is crafting a great song any different from crafting a great scene. And do we really want best scene oscars?

elgringo said...

They're still free to nominate the worst 5 of the entire 60ish films they started with. Ho-hum Oscars, ho-hum.


el gringo well... not really. One assumes that these 'Executives' will be watching out for the 3 movies that they've heard MUST be nominated.

we'll see.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

why *is* there no Oscar for casting directors? shouldn't they at least get a plaque or something at the SAGs? after all, someone had to recruit all those famous faces.

Glenn said...

I imagine a casting category would
a) be tricky, considering directors and even other actors can be involved in the casting process
b) end up with the same several people winning year after year
c) would really end up being a "best cast" category.

Considering option c. Would Enchanted be nominated, even though the casting of Adams and Marsden were strokes of genius, or would they simply go with four of the best picture nominees and then an ensemble type film. 2008 would give us nominees for, I imagine, NCfOM, TWBB, Juno, Michael Clayton and... I dunno, I'm Not There? You know it'd happen.

That category would be way too tricky.

Although as much flak as the song catagory gets, they have at least tried to improve it. As lame as the nominees were this year, they were at least all songs that were utilised in the movies themselves, which is something Melissa Etherigde's (as much as I love her) "I Need To Wake Up" most definitely did not.

I'm thinking though that they could easily merge the original song category in with the old category "best music or song score" or whatever it was called. That way they could get their rock star performances and not be limited by those that are nominated and they could just have performances by the cast of a movie, even if the song isn't original.

Make sense?


Glenn --i 100% agree with you about how badly they'd handle the award but that doesn't stop them from having other categories which they handle badly.

it's just weird that casting --inarguably a major contribution to cinema -- isn't considered awardable.