More Oscar voters will be eligible to vote in a wider field of Academy Award categories, with newly introduced rules regarding foreign-language films, documentaries and shorts.
The U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which administers the prestigious annual honour, announced a rule change on Saturday: going forward, members will receive DVD copies of the finalists in the foreign-language, doc feature, doc short subject, animated short and live action short categories.
Previously, members were required to watch finalists in these categories in an actual cinema before voting.
According to academy president Hawk Koch, the move is expected to allow the entire voting membership to vote in all 24 Oscar categories.
"This change continues our efforts to expand our members' participation in all aspects of the academy's activities including, of course, voting for the Oscars," he said in a statement.
"Building on this past season's 90 per cent record voter turnout, we want to give our members as many opportunities as possible to see these great films and vote in these categories next year."
The change could be significant for Canadian filmmakers, who in recent years have seen features such as War Witch and Monsieur Lazhar become foreign-language Oscar finalists and productions such as Henry and The Danish Poet compete in short film categories.
Previously, Oscar voters — especially those outside major film centres like Los Angeles and New York — had difficulty catching the short films and doc contenders in a cinema, as the rules required, and hence could not vote in every category.
The nomination process remains unchanged.