It wouldn’t be a typical awards season without some controversy, and 2023 had its fair share of intrigue surrounding some unexpected nominations for some of the most high-profile accolades in the industry.
The Andrea Riseborough case has shaken up the very foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ standards for publicity and promotional regulations – and it seems the whole affair has finally yielded some noticeable changes in some of the Academy‘s politics.
Last Friday, the Academy moved to establish new guidelines to enforce more transparency regarding the content its members are allowed to post on social media. While it doesn’t forbid any member from encouraging people to watch a certain movie or commending the merits of any film, it does strictly ban them from any mention of voting.
Seemingly in response to the Riseborough case, Academy members may not disclose their voting preferences, and neither can they compare films with each other. This comes after a series of irregularities were denounced in light of “To Leslie”‘s unusual social media campaign, which included members asking other members to vote in favor of Andrea Riseborough‘s nomination – which she eventually secured.
As this form of lobbying becomes more prevalent in the age of always-connected social media, the Academy also announced the creation of an email hotline that allows everyone – members and non-members alike – to send anonymous tips regarding suspicious lobbying activity. If the Academy determines some form of foul play was indeed involved in any of these anonymous tips, the infringing part might receive severe penalties, up to outright expulsion from the Academy.
Continuing with the new and revised limitations, the Academy has set a limit on the number of hosted screenings that can be held before a film receives a formal nomination, which is now four. Moreover, post-nomination hosted screenings received an explicit ban. “For-Your-Consideration” private events are exempt from these rulings, but the Academy strictly forbids these events if they’re organized, funded, or even endorsed by motion picture companies.
The board also announced it will be cracking down on its governor’s ability to potentially influence Oscar outcomes. This comes following a post by Academy President Janet Yang, which seemed to be advocating for Michelle Yeoh as the Best Actress contender. The post was quickly deleted.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the Academy has revised its rules regarding award season promotion, but this set of changes is undisputably the most radical we’ve seen in more than a decade. This undoubtedly follows the notoriously controversial grassroots campaign led by Andrea Riseborough‘s PR team in light of her unexpected nomination.
The meeting also served as a reminder that the Academy‘s new “inclusion standards” will be in full effect this season. The controversial measure – which includes featuring “at least one of the lead or significant supporting actors from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group” – will severely change the face of future contenders for some of the most sought-after awards.
To finalize things, the Academy will also revise which members can vote to determine the nominees for the best live-action short Oscar. Now, any member can vote for their preferred feature. Additionally, at least half of each nation’s selection committee for the best international feature film Oscar submission must now be comprised of filmmakers.
All of these announcements come from the Academy‘s ongoing effort to “bring clarity, fairness, and transparency to how motion picture companies and individuals directly associated with awards-eligible motion pictures” promote their features.