Netflix Oscar Eligibility Remains Intact As The Academy Votes Not To Change Key Rule

Earlier this year, Roma was a huge contender and winner at the Oscars. Not only did the film earn a trophy for director Alfonso CuarĂ³n, as well as taking home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but it was one of the Best Picture nominees. But that didn't sit too well with some members of The Academy, because Roma was a Netflix movie, and it barely met the eligibility requirements for being released in theaters to qualify for a potential nomination. There was even some uproar from Steven Spielberg about it, though that might have been a big misunderstanding (or some sneaky swipes from Apple).

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was said to be considering a change in the eligibility rules that would force Netflix or any other streaming service producing original movies to jump through more hoops in order to earn Oscar nominations. However, The Academy has voted on the matter, and they've opted not to change the rule regarding Netflix movies Oscars eligibility. In addition, they've announced some other key changes for other Oscar categories.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their decision not to move forward with a rule change that would make Netflix movies Oscars eligibility harder to attain. Instead, the rule will continue to allow any film to be considered for an Oscar as long as it plays in theaters for a seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles movie theater. That means movies can also still appear on a streaming service day-and-date with the theatrical release and they're still eligible for Oscars.

Here's what Academy president John Bailey had to say in an official statement on the matter:

"We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues."

This was a smart decision on behalf of The Academy. A movie is a movie, no matter how much time it spends in theaters. To change this rule as a way to hurt Netflix and any other streaming service who gets into the film production game would feel like a personal vendetta against a a change in the industry that is no longer emerging but rather here to stay. After all, what Netflix does is no different than a studio giving other movies a limited theatrical release before the end of the year in order to ensure they're eligible for awards in the coming months.

Netflix will undoubtedly be a big contender at the Oscars again this year with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman on the way. We've already heard that the streaming service intends to position the movie as a key player in awards season, and it'll even give the film a wide theatrical release.

Other Changes for The Oscars Rules

Maintaining the rule for Oscars eligibility wasn't the only notable announcement from The Academy today. There were also some other small changes

First up, the theatrical release of eight eligible animated features in the calendar year is no longer required for the awards category to be activated. Nominations voting for this category will be automatically open to all active members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. Any other active voting members of the Academy must opt-in to participate in the nominations round.

Next, the Foreign Language Film category has been officially renamed to International Feature Film. Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, believed the term "foreign" was outdated with regards to the global filmmaking community and wanted the category to sound more inclusive.

Furthermore, the International Feature film category will take a cue from the Best Picture category by expanding to 10 nominees. Seven of them will be chosen by the Phase I International Feature Film Committee, and the additional three to be voted by the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee. But that's information for the insiders and doesn't really matter for our purposes.

Makeup and Hairstyling is also getting an upgrade with The Academy allowing five total nominees instead of the traditional three. Because of that, the shortlist will increase from seven potential nominees to ten. But if you want to be eligible, your sizzle reels showing off all the hard work you put into a film cannot be longer than seven minutes.

Finally, if you're trying to get an Oscar nomination in either the animated or live-action short film categories, you now have the option of qualifying by screening your film in the city of New York as well as Los Angeles County.