http://blog.moviefone.com/images/2005/11/oscar.jpgNo part of the Academy Awards causes more annual controversy than the category for Best Foreign Film. Every year a number of movies from around the world are declared ineligible because of the Academy's rules, the most strict of which says no film can be nominated unless it is submitted by its country of origin. This rule has eliminated such recent hits as Y Tu Mamá También, Talk to Her and The Motorcycle Diaries. One of the category's restrictions has just been dropped, though. On Friday, the Academy announced they are no longer accepting only films with a predominant language that is indigenous to the film's country of origin. Before this change, an Italian film had to be in Italian, a French film had to be in French and so on. Previous submissions that were disqualified include The Warrior, Private and Caché. Of course, the film still can't have too much English in it. The Hong Kong film The Touch would still be ineligible now just as it was a few years ago. As for a film like Maria Full of Grace, which was submitted by Colombia but denied for not being "Colombian" enough, the Academy will probably still be pretty picky in their decisions.

Still far from perfect, the category will now have fewer complaints, and more popular films will be considered. Personally, I wish they would have done this at least one year earlier so that Caché could have had a chance. I bet it would have beaten Tsotsi, which certainly did not deserve the award. Now if only they can get rid of the other rules and just give the award to any film made outside the U.S. or any film not in English.

The Academy also announced changes in the voting process for the category, expanding the group that short-lists the nominees, but that news isn't nearly as significant.