New Oscar rules disqualify multi-part documentaries like OJ: Made in America

Courtesy of ESPN Films                     'O.J. Made in America

Another new rule seems aimed specifically at one of this year's nominees: The Academy has ruled that "multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration". O.J.: Made in America now is moving on to the Emmys and likely will be classified as a docuseries, rather than single film when those nominations are announced in July. But it nearly certainly would attract the scrutiny of the doc branch's executive committee which, I'm told by sources close to the Academy, would, per the new rule, seek to determine the principal format for which the doc was created.

The previous rule stated that entries had to be a single feature, with a theatrical release, and excluded doc episodes from a larger series and segments taken from a single "composite" program.

The film, an exploration into the 1995 murder trial of former US football star O.J. Simpson, won the best documentary Oscar in February over "13th", "I Am Not Your Negro", "Fire at Sea" and "Life, Animated". "The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will resolve all questions of eligibility and rules". The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

The film academy also announced that the best animated film category will now be voted on by the entire membership. That's because it appears to have been inspired by the fact that independently made and/or distributed animated films - including nine over the last eight years from the aforementioned New York-based company - have landed best animated feature nominations that were coveted by the backers of big studio films which cost much more to make and were seen by far greater numbers of people.

The five-part ESPN series rankled some of its competitors this awards season for stretching the definition of the form.

The Academy Awards are taking the Best Animated Feature Film category back to the drawing board.

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

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