Dear Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences…

By Scott Feinberg Scott Feinberg thinks the Academy should make a different change than the one it was reportedly considering at its Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday night (to move up the 2011 Oscars ceremony to January).

Dear Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,

I understand that you recently met and discussed some major changes to the Oscar calendar, most notably the idea of moving the Oscars show up from late February into January. Personally, I don’t really care when you have the Oscars, but I do hope that you can help with another problem: we’ve got to find a way to get studios to spread out the release of awards-worthy movies throughout the year!

Currently, the vast majority of awards-worthy movies come out during the fall and winter, while the vast majority of movies released during the spring and summer SUCK. Why? Because—understandably—studios don’t want to release their best films so far in advance of awards voting that (a) voters have already forgotten about them by the time they get their ballots at the end of the year, and/or (b) they have to fund extra-expensive awards campaigns to try to keep voters from forgetting them.

I believe that this is a problem that can only be solved through the intervention of the Academy itself, and I think I know just the way for you to do it…

How about having TWO voting periods? At the end of June, have voters select the 5 best films released between January and June; and at the end of December, have voters select the 5 best films released between July and December. Then, after tallying the votes by mid-January, mail voters an alphabetized list of all 10 best picture nominees, and ask them to rank them from best to worst, just as you did last year, to determine your best picture winner. (You could still have the Oscars show at the end of January or beginning of February.)

It seems to me that this system would offer studios a strong incentive to release awards-worthy films during the first half of the year, too, since it would be just as easy (if not easier) to make the final cut. I think voters would appreciate the change too, because they are currently asked to see roughly 50 films within a very short period of time (which very few actually manage to do despite their best efforts), whereas under the proposed system those films would be spread out throughout the year (and merit, rather than timing, would take precedence). Most of all, those of us who have heretofore been subjected to loads of CRAP for half of the year while counting down the days until the “awards season” would instead have an awards season year-round.

Scott Feinberg

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  • June 23, 2010 | Permalink |

    Well, I think that your idea is absolutely unacceptable… The category is called Best Picture of the Year – you can’t ignore five great films from the period of July – December only because there are five so-so films from the period of January – June that will get their slots…. You cannot judge based on when the film is released. It’s absurd! It’s like saying: well, we’ll 6 best actress nominees – 3 slots for women of color and 3 slots for Caucasian women. It’s called best picture of the year and such an idea is ridiculous.

  • June 24, 2010 | Permalink |


    Dude, I know this is 2010 but you say that the period of january to June will only deliver so-so films. I think Mr. Feinberg’s idea is a very curious one. If AMPAS does consider this rule, then film festivals and distributers will start to release films not just in November and December but anytime during the year. And if distributors still want to release as late as possible, they can do it in two periods (may/June and november/December) and still produce a diverse group of films.

  • June 24, 2010 | Permalink |

    @ Renard, I haven’t said that. I was giving an example and it could easily be the other way around. But making the whole thing 5 films from the first half of the year, 5 films from the latter will lead to the following controversy (and there’s not even the slightest doubt about it)… A critic or a journalist or a filmmaker will ask: WELL, WHY ISN’T A GREAT FILM RELEASED IN OCTOBER NOT NOMINATED AND A MEDIOCRE JUNE FILM THAT MADE TONES OF MONEY IS? And actually it’s possible that the film released in November got more votes, but finished sixth because of the strong competition, while the June film got fewer votes but made it into the five because of the lack of competition. So is that fair? No, it isn’t.

  • June 25, 2010 | Permalink |


    Well, the two voting periods is at least BETTER than having all films released in november or December. People are frustrated already that that strategy of releasing films so late so that their initial impact can last the awards season may not reveal the true artistic value of the films released. Take for example last year’s BEST PICTURE winner, “THE HURT LOCKER”. It was not initially released in the so-called ‘strategy months’ of November-December but JUNE (in the US). That proves that a potential nominee doesn’t have to be released so late. It’s earlier release date allowed people who saw what it was instead of it’s impact but of it’s story. That may have been what gave it the award instead of “AVATAR”. Additionally, “THE HURT LOCKER” didn’t get viewed as an Oscar winner until mid-December,SIX MONTHS AFTER ITS RELEASE IN THE US. If it took five to six months for the best picture winner to be given merit, then Mr. Feinberg’s proposal has a strong chance of being effective in picking out the true best pic nominees.

  • June 25, 2010 | Permalink |


    I don’t mean that all films will take that long; it would vary. But perhaps it would teach voters to THINK about the nominees and their artistic values to balance with impact. Theoretically,
    that means that true artistic noms would be released in January and impact-driven films released before the end of June.

  • June 25, 2010 | Permalink |


    For the release periods, I also meant July and mid-December as well.

  • June 30, 2010 | Permalink |

    @ Renard,

    my only issue with the idea (but it’s a HUGE one!) is that it’s not fair. Because you can’t never know when a good film is going to be released. Let’s make a comparison: you combine 2007 and 2008 into one voting season (as if 2007 is January-July and 2008 is August-December). 2007 has No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Juno, Michael Clayton, Ratatouille, Zodiac, Into the Wild, I’m Not There, Persepolis, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days etc etc, while 2008 has films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Happy-Go-Lucky, Frozen River, Doubt, The Wrestler, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, WALL-E. It’s perfectly clear (at least in my opinion) that 2007 is a much better year for movies. And it’s that the first half of the year, then we’ll have 5 from these compete for best picture and five from the latter half of the year (in our case 2008). It’s not fair, because this way a much better film such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or Ratatouille won’t make it into the top ten final nominees only because it’s released earlier in the year and a lesser film will make it into the final ten because it was released in the second half of the year when the releases weren’t as good. That’s what the real problem is and that’s why such an idea simply cannot be realized.

  • July 1, 2010 | Permalink |

    Wow, that was quite a brain teaser!! Umm, ok. Those are good points if ten good ones would be released on either half of the year. It would be difficult to find ten really strong contenders in five-six months (while thinking about the last half of the year). Do you have a comparison that involves ONLY ONE YEAR so that the perspective fits more easily? That way,it would be like a simulation of Mr. Feinberg’s suggestion. Your comparison takes films compiled from an ENTIRE year so it’s hard to see your point of the proposal being unfair.
    PS. This is a very interesting conversation!!

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