After altering its rules and campaign regulations for the 2020-2021 Oscar season, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors has today announced what filmmakers and cinephiles alike can expect from the 2021-2022 season. In short: much of this looks the same as last year, during which AMPAS made pandemic-era concessions to everything from the eligibility of streaming films to the cities in which theatrical runs were considered qualifying. Still, there are some interesting additions, including new rules for Best Score contenders and expanded short lists for the short film categories.
As theatrical exhibition is still impacted by the pandemic this year, today’s announcement reaffirms that “eligibility requirements for the 94th Academy Awards will be consistent with the addendums made for the 93rd Awards season,” which include both those expanded theatrical cities and streaming rules (films that planned for a theatrical release but pivoted to streaming or PVOD remain eligible). While the Academy provided no other new details, today’s announcement also includes a notation that it “intends to expand the qualifying requirements for the 95th Awards.”
As previously announced, the eligibility period for Academy Awards consideration will return to the standard December 31 deadline: a feature film must have a qualifying release date between March 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021. For films that open in theaters, the six qualifying U.S. metropolitan areas are Los Angeles County; the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. These rules apply to General Entry categories as well as the Documentary and Short Film categories.
For films that debut on streaming platforms, the same rules from last year apply: “Films which are intended for theatrical release, but are initially made available through commercial streaming, VOD service or other broadcast may qualify under these provisions: that the film be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release or broadcast and that it meets all other eligibility requirements.”
The Academy has also reaffirmed that, beginning with the 94th Academy Awards, the Best Picture category will be set at 10 nominees, doing away with the fluctuating number of nominations from year to year, which was first put into place for the 82nd Academy Awards.
Also unchanged: the International Feature Film category will continue to include an expanded shortlist of 15 films, and members from all Academy branches being invited to opt in and participate in the preliminary and nominations rounds of voting.
The Board of Governors has announced a few small changes, however, including tweaks to the Best Sound Category and new limits for the Best Original Song roster. Those changes will go into effect for the 94th Awards and include:
- In the Sound category, there will now be a preliminary round of voting for the Sound award to determine a shortlist of 10 films. Prior to nominations voting, Sound Branch members will be invited to a presentation of the shortlisted achievements, similar to the process in the Visual Effects and Makeup & Hairstyling categories. The entire Sound Branch will vote to select the shortlist as well as nominations.
- In the Music (Original Score) category, for a score to be eligible, it must comprise a minimum of 35 percent of the total music in the film, lowered from 60 percent.
- In the Music (Original Song) category, no more than five songs from any one film may be submitted.
- In the Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories, the shortlist will expand from 10 to 15 films.
The 2022 Oscar nominations will be announced on February 8, 2022, with the ceremony following on Sunday, March 27, 2022.