It seems as if the Motion Picture Academy has finally realized that there are usually more than three films per year with great visual effects.  As a result, they’ve expanded the potential nominees for the Best Visual Effects category from a max three nominees annually to five.  Additionally, they have reset the minimum of an animated feature to 40 minutes rather than the previous minimum of 70 minutes in order to be considered in the Best Animated Film category.

Since 1963, when the special effects award was discontinued and
separate categories for achievements in visual effects and sound
effects were established, the only period during which it was
possible to have five visual effects nominees was 1977 through
1979. In only one of those years, 1979, were five achievements
actually recognized. Between 1980 and 1995, two or three
productions could be nominated; since 1996 the rules have dictated
there be exactly three nominees.
 

And for animated features, the previous 70-minute threshold for an animated feature had left a
gap for ani films that ran between 40 and 70 minutes, effectively
preventing them from being able to qualify as either features or
shorts.
  Also, as movies like a A Christmas Carol” and Avatar break new
ground with motion- and performance-capture techniques, the Academy
has ruled that motion-capture alone is not an animation technique,
stipulating that animated films must be created frame by
frame.


I think this is a good thing, especially for animation.  Now there can be more films eligilble to lose to Pixar every year.

via THR.com