Sadly, I don’t have all the time in the world.  If I did, my Century of Film pieces on War Films and 20th Century-Fox would already be posted and I wouldn’t still have over 60 films recorded off TCM waiting to be watched.  As a result, I rarely revisit old posts to make corrections and I haven’t had time to peruse all the Academy Rule Books that they have posted.  Yet, some weirdness has come up and I’ll quickly address a couple of issues that I have discovered (or, to be more precise, I did research on after they were pointed out to me).

A long time back, a commenter said that my comment on Herbert Ross not getting two Oscar nominations in 1977 was not prevented by the rules.  Ross had two films nominated for Best Picture (only the second director to do so since the drop to five Picture nominees in 1944) but was only nominated for Best Director for one of them (The Turning Point).  According to Inside Oscar, the most piss-poorly sourced book in the world (there are things in the book that are flat-out wrong and at least one of the few times they claim their source, their source is actually fictional) claimed on page 1015 “No more than one nomination per person in Best Director category” began in 1939 (presumably in response to Michael Curtiz being nominated twice the year before) but they never listed it as having ended.  In fact, on page 545, they claimed “Academy rules prevented Ross from competing against himself for Best Director.”  So, who was right, the commenter or the book?  Well, the commenter was, as can be seen by looking at the rules.  That rule didn’t exist in 1977 (I still thought it existed in 2000 and thought Soderbergh couldn’t be nominated twice but then he was).  Well, it turns out the rule stopped after 1974; in 1974, Francis Ford Coppola was prevented from competing against himself, but, possibly in response to Coppola not getting nominated with both his films, they dropped the rule the next year.

Which brings us to another rule that another commenter posted about.  That commenter questioned my post in 1983 as to whether Fanny and Alexander, widely heralded by many as the best film of the year and widely considered to be a surprise snub for Best Picture since it was nominated for 6 Oscars (and won 3) including Director and Original Screenplay (and because Bergman had a film nominated for Best Picture in 1973) was actually a snub or whether it was ineligible by Academy rules.  He pointed to the Wikipedia article on Fanny, which I thought would just have no source and be easily disproved.  But Wikipedia cited The New York Times, not a publication likely to make an error.  So I checked the Academy rules.  And sure enough, the Times, as could be expected, is correct.  In 1983, “films submitted for Best Foreign Language Film Award consideration may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, but not the Best Picture of the Year Award.”

Holy shit!  So when the hell did that happen (and why didn’t Inside Oscar say anything about that)?  Well, it turns out it happened in 1975 and it turns out that’s the year that they decided that films submitted for Best Foreign Film wouldn’t be eligible in other years as well.  Which is why Amarcord is the last film to be nominated for Foreign Film in one year and other categories in a different year.  This rule lasted for a decade.  I thought at first it ended in 1985 but in 1986, they simply moved it to the last rule of the Foreign Film category instead of the second.  But it did end the next year, although submissions would still not be eligible for Best Documentary (a rule I don’t pay much attention to since I only deal with the feature film rules) and the rule about submitted films not being eligible in other years was still kept.

In 1999, the rules were modified somewhat.  Instead of submitted films not being eligible in a subsequent year, only nominated films would not be eligible in a subsequent year.  That’s why in 2002, when City of God was not nominated for Foreign Film (which just makes the voters for Best Foreign Film in that year look like idiots, though they did nominate a solid bunch) it was still eligible the next year and earned multiple nominations.  So, if you are nominated, you’re stuck and if you’re not, you have another year.

So, at a quick glance, here’s what we’ve learned this morning.  In 1974, Coppola could only be nominated once.  In 1977, Ross could be nominated twice but wasn’t because Spielberg was and really Close Encounters should have been nominated for Best Picture anyway.

A quick list of prominent films ineligible for Best Picture from 1975 to 1986

  • Seven Beauties
  • Jacob the Liar
  • Cousin Cousine
  • That Obscure Object of Desire
  • Kagemusha
  • Fanny & Alexander
  • The Official Story
  • Decline of the American Empire

A quick list of prominent films ineligible for any other award except Foreign Film from 1975 to 1999 because they weren’t released in LA in their submission year.
note:  Not all of these were nominated; being submitted was enough.

  • The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser
  • Dersu Uzala
  • The Ascent
  • Soldier of Orange
  • The Tin Drum
  • The Last Metro
  • Mephisto
  • Wings of Desire
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Jesus of Montreal
  • Raise the Red Lantern
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • The Scent of Green Papaya
  • Belle Epoque
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Run Lola Run

A quick list of prominent films nominated for Best Foreign Film since 1999 but not eligible for any other awards because their L.A. release wasn’t in their submission year:

  • Amores Perros
  • Hero
  • Downfall
  • The Secret in Their Eyes
  • Incendies

A quick list of prominent films released since 1999 that were eligible in other categories only because they weren’t nominated for Best Foreign Film:

  • City of God
  • Osama
  • Black Book