I’m not one to get exceptionally political around here, but on a date when I’m so sharply reminded that the state I currently occupy still retains the cold, insane mechanism by which the government can ultimately murder one of its own citizens… new rules to combat some of the silly bullshit that happens during the Oscar race seems awfully trivial.

What’s worse? The new “rules” seem to actually make it easier for big studios to throw their budgets around and get attention on their films.

Despite their relative inanity, let’s at least break down what they’ve put out their in their statement today (picked up via Deadline).

• The stated goal of all the new rules is to encourage Academy members to see the films in regular theatrical settings as much as possible. That’s a genuinely good ideal to push.

• All the new rules affect screenings and events after the nominations have been announced. Before then it’s a free-for-all and Fox Searchlight can throw a Shame-sponsored orgy with a Michael Fassbender Q&A if they so choose. After the nods are out… no dice.

• After nominations are released, an academy voter can still go to screenings that have Q&A’s, but not if they include any kind of party or reception before or after. We’ll come back to this though, because this rule is one that actually opens things up a bit…

• Between nomination announcements and the final closing of the polls, Academy voters can’t attend any parties/receptions/events that promote a film or a nominee involved with a film if there is no screening involved, and the nominees themselves are also forbidden from attending such events (unless they are Academy events).

• Digital and disc screeners are still permitted, but there are new regulations about materials that can accompany them and they must otherwise follow the rules.

So while that stuff may sound more limiting, the key thing to note is that before these changes academy members could not attend any screening that involved the filmmakers. So while the Academy is going after private endorsement parties and things like that, they’ve effectively opened up the gates for studios to screen their films with different combinations of directors/writers/producers/stars as much as they can afford to rope Academy eyeballs. Also, the total lack of regulations before nominations is new as well.

So stars and directors will get to hawk their wares straight to the voters a little easier now, even if it’s become shadier for Harvey to host an Iron Lady-themed Passion Party in his basement now. Thrilling stuff.

This is going to be a weird Oscar season, I will say that. With so many rules changes, so many contenders… should be fun in that completely shallow, horse-race kind of way.

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