From the press release:

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has approved additional rules for the 85th Academy Awards. The most significant changes affect the Original Song category, in which there will now be five nominees.

During the nominations process, all voting members of the Music Branch will receive a Reminder List of works submitted in the category and a DVD copy of the song clips. Members will be asked to watch the clips and then vote in the order of their preference for not more than five achievements in the category. The five achievements receiving the highest number of votes will become the nominations for final voting for the award.

Additionally, upon the recommendation from the Designers Branch (formerly the Art Directors Branch), the Art Direction award will be known as the Production Design award.

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  • Poor music and original song category. Gets changes, shuffled, and disparaged every year. I feel for you, music categories – and I still don’t really care that much who wins it each year.

  • Ian

    I’m glad they finally changed up the song category. Hopefully this will allow for more campaigning and songs people actually care about will get in.

  • Amanda

    So is the still a limit to songs per movie?

  • Maxim

    Should have settled on 3-4 songs instead. Also, Production Design is too industrial sounding. Art Direction sounds much nicer and creative sounding.

    Seems like a questionably decision.

  • Jonny

    Thank sweet baby Jesus that the music branch came to their senses and revised their awful, awful voting system for original song. I assume this means voters won’t be able to sabotage potential nominees by giving them low rankings.

    And for everyone who thinks the song category is a waste of time, I present this opinion: music has been an integral part of the movies since they first put sound in the movies. Sure, it’s produced some awful results over the last few years, but I’ll gladly take a decade of mediocre songs if every once in a while I get Over the Rainbow, Moon River, The Way We Were, Streets of Philadelphia, Lose Yourself, or Falling Slowly – not to mention the multiple winners from the Disney animated movies of the 90’s. Just because it hasn’t been done well recently doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. A well written, carefully placed song can elevate a film just as much as any other creative aspect can. Hopefully this rule change means that those great songs will get a shot at the big show. End rant.

  • Jonny

    @Maxim, as I understand it, the production designer is the one who actually gets the award (along with the set decorator), so to me, the change in name makes perfect sense, even if it doesn’t actually change anything substantial.

  • kefer

    I want to personally congratulate MYSELF for influencing AMPAS with these rule changes. I have been advocating both of these changes for a long time.

    Five nominees makes sense in BEST SONG category. Oh, “if we could turn back time” . . . Cher and Mary K. Blige could have performed their songs from “Burlesque” and “The Help”. Wouldn’t those performances been worth watching? ? ? (instead of inanimate puppet creatures mouthing the award-winning tunes).

    And Production Design is a more encompassing title. The main honcho supervising art direction/set decoration is, after all, called the “Production Designer”. So I agree wholeheartedly with this change as well.

    Who says AMPAS doesn’t look at this site? I think we’ve got some pull in the decision-making, you guys. Does anybody out there have any more changes/suggestions they would like to put forth for AMPAS?

  • keifer

    Jesus, I was so excited about responding to these rule changes that I misspelled my own name ! !

    Sasha, can you correct for me? Thanks.

  • The Great Dane

    @Amanda: The rules don’t say that there is a “two song” limit from one film. All it says (still) is that the song must be original and written specifically for the film, that the lyrics must be audible when the song is featured in the film, and if the song only appears in the end credits, it MUST be the first piece of music during those credits.

    Yes, finally they changed those rules! It was the only category where you could vote AGAINST something, giving “the enemy” a 1 out of 10 and then ruining their chances of a nomination. At least this way is fair.

    Now we just need the makeup award to be increased to 5, then most of the categories are “equal”.

    Whoever created those “score the songs from 1 to 10, and only the songs with a combined 8,1 score or higher will be nominated” should have been fired. It just didn’t make sense. WHY should ONE category have a “quality score limit” when others don’t? Glad to see it “back as it was”. 🙂

  • The Great Dane

    Glad to see they also got rid of the limit of only “two songs allowed from one film”.

    These specific limitations are SO ridiculous! Why should there be a limit to “two songs” from one film, when there isn’t a limit of “two nominations from one film” in the Acting categories?

    I know the reason was after Dreamgirls and Enchanted failed to win the Oscar after having been nominated 3 times each in the Song Category. The fear was that the deserved winning film would cancel itself out with too many nominations, but the same could be said for the Acting categories. Regardless, if the three best songs/performances/whatever of the year is from ONE film, they shoold (and thankfully now CAN) be nominated in stead of making place for inferior work.

    Now they just have to clear up the “an actor can’t be nominated twice in one category, but a director can”. Remove that limitation to the Acting categories! If an actor gives the two best leading or two best supporting performances of the year, they deserve to get a double nomination. Removing it will also help us all against category fraud, which specifically happens when an actor has two contending performances out in one year (to name a few: DiCaprio for Departed and Blood Diamond, Winslet for The Reader and Revolutionary Road, Foxx for Ray and Collateral, to name a few). Departed wasn’t a supporting performance, and Oscar thankfully did not put him there. Ditto for Winslet. But Foxx, which is probably the biggest category fraud of all time (not counting child performances, usually put in Supporting). He was in every scene in Collateral, the story was from his point of view. He was the ONLY true lead – and they managed to fake him into a Supporting Nomination, surpassing Ethan Hawke’s performace in Training Day as the worst case of category fraud in decades.

  • steve50

    “Members will be asked to watch the clips and then vote….”

    So this remains the only category where a selection is actually encouraged out of context and it doesn’t matter whether or not the song worked better with the rest of the entire piece than its competitors (like past winners Somewhere Over the Rainbow or When You Wish Upon a Star did, but most do not).

    It’s still a dicey category and I’d prefer they change focus to Adapted Score where they could reward the most effective use of music, song or otherwise. Best Song is like “best hat”.

  • steve50

    @the great dane – big agreement with you on multiple acting noms, especially if they could make the number of noms a bit larger.

    The nomination alone would be an honour when an actor, who has had a truly stellar year, can be properly recognized and not submitted to a Sophie’s Choice process.

  • YAY! Best Song gets some help. Movies and music go together like peanut butter and chocolate. 🙂 I was sick of people saying they should get rid of the category. There were a couple of songs I loved from movies in the last few years and I don’t think the people submitted them. Maybe they broke the rules, I couldn’t keep up but they were never on the nominating lists. I still don’t like the “must be written specifically for the film” thing. If I made a movie and had an old song sitting in my desk that worked with the film and I used it, I think it should count. As long as it wasn’t used or released before. You know what I mean. That’s what happened to “Come What May” and it always made me mad.

  • Two things which have continually bugged me about the Oscars:

    – The consistently mediocre selection of songs nominated for Original Song due to the voting process, rewarding middle-of-the-road songs which appealed to many but excited few.

    – The fact that production designers had to make do with an award for Art Direction, when art direction is not another term for production design, but another job entirely.


  • Bailey

    Glad to see some changes to Best Song, but it just bugs me thinking that “Safe and Sound,” Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars’ incredible song for The Hunger Games can’t be nominated (it didn’t appear in the film and wasn’t the first in the end credits). It would be one of the most popular winners in years, along with “Falling Slowly.” Just my .02!

  • William Chase

    Such a shame there will be no song from ‘The Hunger Games’ AMAZING soundtrack nominated. And it will be such a missed opportunity if ‘Learn Me Right’ from ‘Brave’ is nominated and they don’t let Birdy and Mumford and Sons perform during the ceremony…

  • William Chase
  • BlueFox94

    Guys, all the previous rules (i.e. Limit 2 songs per film, song must be in body or first in credits, etc.) are still in effect. At the bottom under IV. VOTING

  • MovieDearest

    Section IV, line D: “A maximum of two songs may be nominated from any one film. If more than two songs from a film are in contention, the two songs with the most votes will be the nominees.”

  • JoeS

    I’d just assume toss the category all together. Other than Oscar pools and a (very) occasional worthy nominee, it should be put out to pasture, along with Best Make-Up and Best Sound Effects Editing.
    I agree with the posting about clips out of context. If the song isn’t integral to a film (as in DREAMGIRLS, ONCE, DANCER IN THE DARK), it shouldn’t be eligible. And, the dreaded End Credits songs should be be ruled ineligble from the get go! If there aren’t at least 3 worthy songs that fit the above criteria – the award goes silent for that year.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Production Design makes sense. Original Song’s 5 nominees should be 0.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “Movies and music go together like peanut butter and chocolate. 🙂 I was sick of people saying they should get rid of the category.”

    Comments like this make me feel sick.

    MUSIC is VERY important in film. SONGS have NONE of that importance. Try to see the difference next time. OK?

  • rufussondheim

    Everyone loves a montage!

  • Mel

    I don’t know. The songs in movies have always been something I remembered and I felt added something to it for me personally. Can you imagine The Big Chill without the songs?

    When I was a kid I would bet 80% of the cassettes I bought were movie soundtracks and the performances of the nominated songs was always something I looked forward to during the Oscars broadcast.

  • Tero, lose the tone. I do know the difference. If you don’t agree with me fine but don’t be a jerk about it. I was talking about individual songs within or at the end of a movie. In recent years Jason Segel wrote a few that I would have nominated from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek and they never made it in. They were SONGS. You know the approximately five minute thingies people can buy for $.99 on iTunes. In fact, I own the Infant Sorrow CD.

    I like SONGS from movies like “Eye of the Tiger”, “Last Dance”, the Flash Gordon theme, the theme from 9 to 5, “The Way We Were”, “Do You Know Where You’re Going To”, nearly all of the Bond themes, “Endless Love”, “Against All Odds”, “Man in Motion” (St. Elmo’s Fire), “The NeverEnding Story” and on and on… I can’t think of those songs without thinking of the movie and vice versa. And thinking of soundtracks that are wall to wall songs, and not traditional scores, like SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and FOOTLOOSE I don’t understand dismissing the importance of songs in film.

  • BBBerlin

    2011 was a fantastic year for Movie Songs, and imagine the spectacle and glam on Oscar stage if “Star Spangled Man” from ‘Cpt. America’ had been performed, along with Elton John & Gaga (Gnomeo & Juliet), Sinead O’Connor (Albert Nobbs), Jonsi (We Bought a Zoo) and Zaz (Hugo).

    Instead there were two Cartoon tunes no one cared about, and the funny one won.

  • The Great Dane

    Damn, two song limit STILL in effect? When will they stop having limitations in some categories? Please just have the same rules for ALL categories!!

  • steve50

    The trapdoor opened in this category when they failed to nominate Goldfinger in 1965. Since then, enough good original songs have been ignored – many of which have been mentioned above – to make the category completely irrelevant.

    With only 4 or 5 exceptions, any win since that year means little as far as film history goes and even less to the music industry which has its own awards.

    With only a couple of “hits” in almost 50 years (usually of a specific genre that you would hear in a dentist’s waiting room), “best song” is a dinosaur of a category.

  • Mark

    If these rules had been in place last year, Glenn Close would have won her first Oscar, not as an Actress – but with Brian Byrne – for Original Song.
    I’m convinced of it.

  • With only a couple of “hits” in almost 50 years

    Without trying I named several number one hits.

  • I would rather the AMPAS improved the rules so that songs that people have actually heard before (and some consider good) have a chance at a nomination. Correct me if I’m wrong, single voters carry a lot of influence during the balloting process, no?

  • Wait, they expanded the Best Song category?

    They should have killed it.

    In the 30s and 40s Best Song nomimees are practically the great American songbook. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, you had lasting pop songs that were hits and everybody knew. Lately …..

  • K. Bowen

    “Glad to see some changes to Best Song, but it just bugs me thinking that “Safe and Sound,” Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars’ incredible song for The Hunger Games can’t be nominated (it didn’t appear in the film and wasn’t the first in the end credits).”

    Really, it can’t? That’s the first song from a movie that I’ve heard on the radio in years.

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