September 26, 2016

The Academy Awards are back in February…what does that mean for the season?

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A few days ago, the Academy confirmed that the next Oscar telecast will be back in February, specifically on February 22nd, more than a week earlier than this past Academy Awards show. This is more in line with what we used to see, so immediately some might wonder if this means anything for what the awards/precursor season might look like this fall/winter. That date obviously means something, but for me, the more interesting one is that voting will open on December 29th, potentially before all of the contenders have been seen. That’s what really got me thinking.

Basically, there’s a chance this time around that some slightly earlier releases will have more of a shot at making a play in the Best Picture category. Of late, it’s been a deluge of December releases clogging up the lineup, and while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, especially considering the quality of the work, it’s always nice to see the early year gems have a chance in the race. Without first half contenders, lineups lack smaller titles like Beasts of the Southern Wild, for example.

At the same time, it’s possible that those couple of contenders that hit on New Year’s Eve might find their hopes fading more so than they’d otherwise have expected. If a voter is even starting to fill out their ballot before your movie has been shown to them (or before they’ve attended a screening), that usually means you won’t have their vote. This could be a very small amount of people or a large amount, depending on the movie, since if it’s a big time contender, it’ll get seen regardless. Still, this might affect those flicks in some small way at least.

Also, a tinker in the schedule for Oscar results in a tinkering of the campaigns that the eventual nominees will wage. Last year’s timeline just felt a bit off to me, and I know I’m not alone, so what seems like a more traditional schedule could remove that feeling this time around. There’s no way to tell right now what campaigns will look like (though it’s interesting that Noah is apparently already offering Academy screenings, so make of that what you will), but I have a hunch that they won’t be identical to what we saw most recently.

We won’t know until the year is over if this schedule results in something different, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind for now. Time will tell what happens though, so stay tuned!

80th Annual Academy Awards - "Parade of the Oscars"

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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