The motion picture academy will reveal the nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards on Jan. 10. That is five days earlier than previously scheduled (and three days before the Golden Globes) and means there will be a record 45-day stretch until winners are revealed on Feb. 24.
Jumping ahead of the Golden Globes is unprecedented. Last year, there were nine days between the Globe ceremony (Jan. 15) and the announcement of the Oscar nominations (Jan. 24). As the deadline for Oscar nomination ballots was Jan. 13, the Globes did not influence the eventual Oscar nominees. However, studios could tout their Globe wins prior to the big reveal of the Oscar nominations.
This year, Oscar nomination ballots will be available online and mailed on Dec. 17 (four days after the Globe nominations are announced). They will be due by 5 p.m. PT on Jan. 3, again the earliest ever date for this deadline. To meet this cut-off, the academy is introducing electronic voting, in conjunction with its long-time accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the company Everyone Counts which has handled elections for Orgeon, Florida and Washington and also counts the US Department of Defense as a client.
The press release promises, "The Academy will make several voting resources available to members during the transition, including the installation of assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London, a 24-hour telephone help line during voting periods, and paper ballots."
Paper ballots will be the only method of nomination in eight categories due to specialized screening and processes: Animated Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling and Visual Effects.
Once the nominations are announced, the strict rules of the academy regarding screenings and campaigning kick in. Last year, those promoting a particular picture could invite Oscar voters to just two screenings with talent in attendance during this final voting period. That has been doubled to four with an additional screening allowed in London. However, there will be no nibblies at these evenings as receptions remain off limits.
The inboxes and mailboxes of Oscar voters won't be as full with the new rule limiting studios to sending just one missive per week. And those emails cannot contain any links to multimedia, other than to the official academy website. The academy nixed the notion of studios using a third party to contact voters by banning publications from sending out stand-alone promotional material.
The lead-up to nominations remains largely unregulated. Look for even more screenings, receptions and parties to crowd the calendar, especially with the nominations announcement being pushed up so early.
Final voting will take place from Feb. 8 to 5 p.m. PT on Feb. 19. Last year, this second round began on Feb. 1 and ran till Feb. 21, with winners announced on Feb. 26.
Below, the complete timetable for the 85th Annual Academy Awards.