The rules! The rules! Here they are. AMPAS release:

Rules Approved for
81st Academy Awards®

Beverly Hills, CA –– The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 81st Academy Awards at their Tuesday evening (6/17) meeting. The only significant changes were in the Music – Original Song category. Other modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.

Three items of note were altered in the Original Song rules. First, while there continues to be no limit on the number of songs from a given film that can be submitted for consideration, no more than two songs from any one film may be nominated for an Academy Award.

Also, in addition to the annual screening event at which members of the Music Branch view clips featuring the eligible songs as they appear in the films and vote, DVDs of those same clips will be made available to branch members who are unable to attend the screening; ballots will accompany the DVDs and must be returned by mail.

Music Branch members who have one or more songs in contention for nominations do not vote in that phase of the balloting. They remain eligible to vote on the final ballot to select the winner.

The only other category with a notable change is the Foreign Language Film Award and as was the case in 2006, the alteration is a procedural one rather than one in the rules per se. For the 81st Academy Awards, the two-phase process by which the nominees are selected will remain intact. However, the Phase I committee – which is open to any voting member who views a minimum number of the eligible films – will now vote to determine only six of the nine films that will ultimately go to the Phase II committee. The other three titles will be determined by those members of the 20-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee who have qualified to vote in the category. The executive committee’s selections will be made after the Phase I voting has been tallied.

Complete rules for all categories can be viewed online at

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval.

Academy Award® nominations in all categories will be announced on January 22, 2009. The 81st Academy Awards presentation will be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 22, 2009.

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  • RichardA

    No changes in the Documentary dept.??

  • tootpadu

    You can blame “Dreamgirls”‘ and “Enchanted”‘s one-two punch for that two-songs-only rule !

  • rm

    If “Dreamgirls”, “Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Enchanted” had three of the five best songs those years, they deserve to be nominated!

    I can’t stand these individual category changes. How come a director can get a double nomination in the same category, but and actor or actress can’t? How come a score made by more than one person can’t be nominated?

    Every category should be open, no matter what happens. If you put restrictions on one category, then do them all!

    Still think the Foreign Film category need A LOT of change, but this is at least a LITTLE step in the right direction. They don’t want to do another “4 months” snub catastrophe. They worry about their image too much to allow that.

  • RichardA

    It’s not like Enchanted won or anything.
    Also blame: Bodyguard. 3 noms, I think.

    I guess there’s no clause on how to treat those who emptively reject presumptive nominations.

  • rm

    Bodyguard only had two. I think only the four before-mentioned had three.

  • S.T. Stevens

    I for one like the two-song limit. After the performance of the second nominated song from Enchanted last year, somebody at my Oscar party pointed out they still had one song from Enchanted left to perform, and everybody let out a collective groan. Especially considering Into the Wild didn’t get any song nominations. Best song has always been a category that suffers more when voters haven’t seen all the films.

  • limeymcfrog

    I like the “Enchanted” Rule, but the foreign language change is just ridiculous considering the number of films denied last year.

  • Noah

    All these restrictions… How is it an award if you have to fit into such a tiny box just to be nominated? Actors should be able to receive multiple nominations in Lead or Supporting categories. The award is for Best Performance, thus obviously one actor can be nominated for multiple performances. And There Will Be Blood’s snub for Best Score is another example. Too many rules.

  • k

    Thank God they changed the song rules. No longer will I have to sit through 3+ performances of bad songs from Enchanted and, yes, I’ll say it, Dreamgirls.

    I think Foreign Language still needs a lot of work, though.

  • RRA lets a Stunt Man do His Writing

    Dear AMPAS,

    Why can’t you mother fuckers just vote in an Oscar for Best Stunt Coordination? I know you all pretend to look your noses down at Action Cinema, or at best give them a token prize in VFX or Editing or Cinematography or whatever the fuck….

    But come on, was Paul Haggis’ CRASH really the best of 2005? Shit, BATMAN BEGINS was better than that garbage.

    So really folks, why not give credit to the hard-working people who pull off gunfights, car chases, brawls, and good ole explosions? Why not give honor the cool people who prop up fuckheads like Michael Bay?

    CASINO ROYALE could have won for 2006, and probably THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM for 2007….oh well.

    So in conclusion, go fuck yourselves.



    PS – If you need help on how to fuck “yourselves,” call me and I’ll bring along a hot dog and donut to show you how its done. That or call Ron Jeremy, and he’ll teach you how to self-suck.

  • Ethan Guild

    Well…David Ansen’s ongoing crusade to change the Foreign Language category remains fruitless. Again, we’re going to get generally crap movies nominated year after year for this category…no La Vie En Rose. No Diving Bell. No Orphanage.


  • RRA knows that AMPAS is foreign to Coolness

    Ethan, aint that the truth?

    Its like 1994 all over again, when everyone was loving the great documentary HOOP DREAMS….except for the AMPAS, who apparently are like the same Grammy voters who gave a GODDAMN Rap Grammy to Will Smith and neither Tupac* or Notorius B.I.G.

    *=I think, I might be mistaken.

  • Xavi Rodriguez

    I was agree with Original Song change, because in the last two years we have awful songs from Dreamgirls (Only Listen and maybe Love I do) and Enchanted (In fact the only song who deserves a nomination is “That’s how you know”) Where’s Into the Wild, Love in the time of cholera, America Gangster? or why not three Once’s songs?

    For the foreign language category is a good step after considerable last year’s snubs- Romania, France, Spain, Germany- but that category needs a complete reconstruction… Example: One film for country. In countries with a low and small film industry is right (Bosnia, nepal and Bolivia) but countries like France, Germany or India is a against fact. Example: in this year we have four french acclaimed films: The diving bell and the butterfly, Lady Chatterley, Persepolis and La vie en rose… And choose only one? if considerate that TDB&TB like Lust caution are out of the category because American Director y/o Money, we have three films and no one gets an Oscar nomination. Other important change is about the disqualification of “Cache” two years ago for country confussion. Originally Cache could be the Austria’s submission but by the french language, actors and production… and it was the most awarded foreign film in all that season.

    Other category that need change is Original Score, last year, only two scores deserves the nomination: Atonement and Ratatouille. There Will be Blood, The assassination of J.J…., into the Wild and Lust Caution were out of the competition.

  • Bob

    I think people might be missing the point of the Original Song category rule change. For anyone who is outraged at the idea that a movie with more than two fantastic songs (fantastic is arguable, I know) will be denied more nominations, I believe the rule restriction is actually for the BENEFIT of said films. If Dreamgirls hadn’t suffered from massive vote splitting, would Melissa Ethridge’s fine but unmemorable song from An Inconvenient Truth have walked away with an Oscar? This rule should please people who a) think a movie has fantastic music, as well as b) don’t want to listen to Happy Working Song.

    Also, I think the point of the foreign language category rule change IS, at least in theory, a way to potentially prevent the disaster that was this past year’s Foreign Language category from happening again. With the old rules, only voting members who saw all the eligible documentaries (what are there, a million?) could vote in the first round of voting; the only people with that kind of time are usually older folk. This led to fantastic films like 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Persepolis getting ignored because, well, frankly, they’re a bit much for the 60+ crowd that doesn’t like animation and probably got a tad grossed out by 4M3W2D’s edginess. I HOPE the new rules will mean that when the Phase I voters leave off the edgiest, most exciting and experimental films from their list, the people of the new committee will have enough sense to put them on the short list. This way, when the Phase II voters (a much younger overall population, since most people can handle 9 films) come around, the academy will finely start awarding films for being ‘great’ more often than ‘safe.’

    Also, Xavi, I have to disagree with the constant argument against the one-film per nation rule. I’ll be the first to admit that plenty of films have been shafted over the years for that rule (If I recall correctly, Spain DIDN’T submit Talk To Her in 2002, and whatever they did submit didn’t even make the cut). However, I think the very fact of France’s strong film lineup last year is a case in point: some countries have more resources for luxuries such as film making. What chance would nations with small budget but fantastic films have against a powerhouse film nation like France in the long run? I could see a time when certain nations could have ALL of the best foreign language picture nominations. Who cares about that? The category is more about recognizing MULTIPLE nations for their cinematical contributions. If La Vie en Rose doesn’t get a nomination so Kazahkstan can get it’s first ever, I can’t say I really mind. As said movie showed, good movies get nominated, with or without the Foreign Language category. Hopefully the rule never changes.

  • Friedl

    Happy Working Song nomination was a travesty.

    only worsened by still having to sit through So Close.

    And then remembering that nothing from Into the Wild was nominated.

    Even my dad thought it was crap. & he liked So Close.

    I don’t have a problem with 3 brilliant songs being nominated, but the voters don’t seem to be very discerning. & how often are there really 3 BRILLIANT songs from 1 movie. (Well, Once… maybe Into the Wild…). 2 will almost always be more than enough. This category always seems a bit desperate, even when they have 1 song per movie. Always seems like they’re reaching a bit. Always a dubious choice in their somewhere.

    But I like watching the performances, anyway…

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    silly Academy. the change that really needed to take place would have been a reinstatement of the SongScore and/or Adaptation category that has been gone for decades. it was common in the age of musicals up until the 80s. some of the greats won multiple times in that category…Johnny Green, Andre Previn, Saul Chaplin, Alfred Newman, John Williams, Roger Edens, Ray Heindorf, etc. in the 90s they called it the Original Musical or Comedy Score, but disbanded it after 3 years. so, there has been no category to recognize films that are overall musical in nature and those who orchestrate/adapt the scores. hence, movies like AMADEUS, CHICAGO, DREAMGIRLS, EVITA, PHANTOM, SWEENY TODD, etc, etc, are left out in the area that makes them stand out: music (unless they happen to come up with a new song).

  • Xavi Rodriguez

    Bob, this rule is a case against the quality of films, I’m sorry, but if France has two great movies, they’re should be nominated, unfortunally for small budget countries. I’m against that rule because it’s doesn’t about quality, it’s about numbers. If a small country has an incredible film that should be nominated, but unfortunally, many of the small countries send awful or mediocre films (The Counterfeiters and Tsotsie are perfect examples) For every No man’s Land we have those films. The Best Foreign Picture category, Bob, if I recall is about the Best Foreign Pictures around the world, no a case of politics. I want to change that rule because it’s a unfair restriction to art and quality.

  • Mark

    I say eliminate the “Best Original Song” category. It’s like having a “Best Edited Scene” category or something like that. Ditch it.

  • I don’t think the category should be eliminated at all! In fact, I think an additional category should be created that can somehow honor the great songs and musical scores that are recorded specifically for a movie but cannot be dealt with because they weren’t completely original.

    This would solve so many problems… Works from films like “Into the Wild,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Chicago” and countless more would not be left out because of their marvelous and purposeful musical inclusion.

    It’s like an acting performance… The character may not have been written by the actor, but they still breathe life and interpretation into it. It can be just the same for music.

  • Noah

    DirectorG – There is a category for that. Best Musical [also called Song Score or Adaatation]. I don’t believe it’s been awarded since Purple Rain in 1985 though. Pity.

  • Flapp

    Things are changing… so slowly…

  • A 2008 post???????!!!!!! WTF???????!!!!!!

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