The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has announced that the Oscars will be returning to a firm 10 Best Picture nominees for the 2022 ceremony honoring 2021 films. The change does not affect the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards, which will maintain the fluctuating number of between five and 10 nominees.
Additionally, AMPAS is teaming with the Producers Guild of America to create a task force of industry leaders, appointed by Academy president David Rubin, and including A2020 Committee Chair DeVon Franklin, to implement and develop new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31 of this year. Again, this doesn’t affect the upcoming Oscars ceremony, which remains scheduled for Feb. 28, 2021. I wholeheartedly applaud the Academy’s efforts to diversify not just its own membership, but the industry as a whole, though I’ll reserve any judgment until the Academy unveils those standards later this summer
Meanwhile, AMPAS is implementing several other initiatives, including a series of Academy Dialogue panels that will discuss race in Hollywood, and requiring mandatory unconscious bias training on an annual basis for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and AMPAS employees, which will also be offered to all 9000-plus members. The current Board of Governors completed such training back in January. This is part of the new Academy Aperture 2025 initiative that arose after A2020 reportedly surpassed its goal to diversify the Academy’s membership, adding more women and people of color to its voting ranks. AMPAS plans to establish an Office of Representation, Inclusion, and Equity to oversee Aperture 2025, and that office will be led by Academy COO Christine Simmons in partnership with Lorenza Munoz, who manages membership relations. New members will be invited to join the Academy next month. The Academy will also make it a priority to highlight diversity at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is slated to finally open its doors on Dec. 14.
“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine— our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
“Through the dedication, focus, and concerted effort of our Board of Governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed the goals of our A2020 initiative. But to truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” said Rubin. “Academy leadership and our Board are committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”
The Academy also announced a cap on terms limits for Academy governors, and said it will create a quarterly viewing process through their streaming site that is designed to “level the playing field” and make all movies easier to see year-round rather than wait for the crunch of awards season. Of course, the Academy doesn’t control release dates, so expect that “crunch” to continue. All the above really means is that rather than wait for “screener season,” Academy members will be able to watch films from the first half of the year on the screener site during the first half of the year.
The Board of Governors term limits aren’t terribly exciting, but we can shed more light on the series of panels called Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us. They’ll be available for members and the public, with conversations about race, ethnicity, history, opportunity, and the art of filmmaking. Programs will include a conversation hosted by Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg on the lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films. The Academy will also present conversations on the systemic changes that need to occur in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color, and to help create a new narrative for recovery.
As for the Academy museum, AMPAS is “committed to building an anti-racist, inclusive organization that will contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema, and build authentic relationships with diverse communities. The Academy Museum will also create spaces that highlight and prioritize the experience of traditionally underrepresented or marginalized people while advancing the understanding, celebration, preservation, and accessibility of movies through its business practices, exhibitions, screenings, programs, initiatives, and collections.”
The museum will work in active partnership with the recently expanded Inclusion Advisory Committee, comprising more than 20 filmmakers and executives, to help develop public programs, exhibitions, and collections that confront racism, champion the work of diverse artists, and expose historical omissions.
Finally, with regards to the Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity, all Academy, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive and Academy Museum staff will have access to newly created Employee Resource Groups to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond, as the Academy continues efforts to increase representation within its membership. The Academy isn’t just about the Oscars, as the organization has year-round programs including:
- Academy Grants Program – The Academy’s FilmCraft and FilmWatch grants were established to identify and empower future filmmakers, cultivate new and diverse talent, promote motion pictures as an art form, and provide a platform or underrepresented artists. Earlier this year, the Academy donated an additional $2 million in funds to 96 organizations that support filmmakers and reach audiences from underserved communities.
- Academy Gold – Academy Gold is an industry talent development, diversity and inclusion initiative, with a focus on underrepresented communities, to provide individuals access and resources to achieving their career pathways in filmmaking.
- Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative – Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative includes member-focused global events designed to connect and empower women in the filmmaking community and enable them to share their stories and celebrate inclusion. The initiative also includes the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women, which funds an annual grant for female filmmakers beginning their careers.
- Academy International Inclusion Initiative – The Academy International Inclusion Initiative aims to bring together a global community of artists by establishing long-term relationships with international film festivals and cultural exchange programs with established and emerging filmmaking communities.
- Student Academy Awards – The Student Academy Awards, established in 1972, provide a platform for emerging global talent by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work.
- Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting – The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is an international screenwriting competition established to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters. Winners are chosen through an extensive, professional script-reading process that also includes Academy-trained readers, with many from underrepresented communities.
For a list of films that could be in the awards mix this year, click here.