1. The need for the Board to vote to “activate” the category each year was eliminated, though a minimum number of eligible releases — eight — is still required for a competitive category (in other words, if I understand this correctly, the Animated Feature category is now permanent with no need for the Board to vote on its existence year after year.)
2. If there are eight-to-twelve features that year “two or three of them may be nominated” (previously, a minimum of 3 films would be nominated. This new rule allows the possibility of only 2 films to run against each other – in theory a third, “lesser film”, could be dropped).
3. If 13 to 15 films qualify, a maximum of four films can be nominated (this is a good new tweak, allowing for more than three films to be nominated if less than 16 animated features are released).
4. If 16 animated features are released and qualify, a maximum of five may be nominated (the tweak here allows the committee to nominate less than five films, if they so decide).
The optimist in me feels that these new tweaks won’t change the potential nominees much. To sum up: If 8-12 films qualify, three will be nominated. If 13-15 films qualify, four will be nominated. And if over 16 films qualify, five will be nominated. Read more about the new rule changes in the Academy press release here.