In all the hullabaloo over the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision to increase the Best Picture Oscar nominees from five to 10 next year, something else has gotten lost in the shuffle: They tinkered with the Best Song category, too. And the new rules mean that there could be a year with no Best Song category at all!

Here's how it works (with thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for some of the details). During the nomination process, the 233 members of the Academy's music branch rate each eligible song on a scale of 1 to 10. The five songs with the top average scores get the actual nomination, with 8.25 as the cutoff. If only three or four songs rate 8.25 or higher, that's all the nominations there are. But the question has always been: What if fewer than three songs get an average score of 8.25? So far, it hasn't come up, although you can see that it almost did last year, when there were only three nominees in the category. That means those were the only three songs that rated 8.25 or higher -- sorry, fans of Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler."

The Academy has now answered this loophole very simply. If two or more songs score higher than 8.25, then everything's cool. If only one song scores high enough, then that song and whatever the next highest scorer was will be the two lone nominees (and no one will know which had the lower score, because of course that would influence the voting). And if no songs score above 8.25? Then the category is scrapped that year.
categories Oscars, Cinematical