The way it works is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sets the date when the Oscars will be handed out and works backwards from there to develop its schedule. Next year's Oscar presentation is scheduled for Feb. 22, which, from what I understand, is the earliest date ever for the presentation of the Academy Awards.
The announcement of the nominees is always scheduled for the first Tuesday four weeks before the telecast. Next year that Tuesday falls on Jan. 20.
That also happens to be the day a new President of the United States is being inaugurated. Now, for some reason, neither the major presidential candidates nor the Motion Picture Academy liked my simple solution to this conundrum which was to have the president put aside his/her normal inauguration address and, instead, announce the Oscar nominees. Talk about coverage. Instead, the Academy, which, like many of its members, prefers to have a spotlight shining on it exclusively, decided to move the nomination announcement date to the following Thursday.
So now here is the updated major dates for the 81st edition of the Academy Awards:
Dec. 26: Nomination ballots mailed
Jan. 12: Deadline for nomination ballots to be returned
Jan. 22: Nominations announced
Jan. 28: Oscar selection ballots mailed
Feb. 17: Deadline for Oscar selection ballots to be returned
Feb. 22: Presentation of the gold statuettes