Renaming the Best Foreign Language Film category as Best International Feature Film isn’t the only major change happening in that field this year.
In a letter obtained by Deadline that was just sent to all participants in the selection of finalists for Best International Film, co-chairs of the International Feature Film executive committee Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann announced that for the first time all eligible Academy members can now vote for the final five nominees. They will choose from 10 (up from nine) shortlisted films: seven now selected from the committee currently viewing all 93 entries from around the world, and three “saves” selected by the executive committee.
“This Oscars season, for the first time, we will invite all Academy members to opt in to vote on nominations for the International Feature category,” the letter said, “The shortlisted films will be made available to all Academy members to stream on the Academy Screening Room platform via the member site and our new Apple TV 4 app. In addition, the shortlisted films will be screened theatrically in Los Angeles, London and New York during nominations voting.” International Feature Shortlist screenings will take place Friday, January 3 through Sunday, January 5.
For the past few years the final five nominees selected from the then-nine-film shortlist were chosen by a small, specially curated group of heavyweight filmmakers and actors (including the likes of Meryl Streep, Donald Sutherland and others who volunteered their time) who gathered in New York, Los Angeles and London to watch the semifinalists together over the course of a weekend. Democracy seems to have taken over the process and now everyone in the Academy who wants the opportunity to directly choose those final five nominees can do so and opt in, thanks in large part to the new streaming platform which officially debuted Wednesday and now has several films available for Oscar voters to download (including one of the 93 international films entered: Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory).
“Just a reminder, the 92nd Oscars are February 9, 2020 — two weeks earlier than usual. Due to the accelerated schedule, the voting periods for both nominations and finals are shorter than in the past, and we want to make sure every member has the opportunity to see the shortlisted films and participate,” the letter concluded.