Here is the official press release from the Academy.
It essentially says that the Best Picture race will now be a bit of a mystery, and that we will have anywhere from 5 to 10 films nominated in that category now. The voting process will determine how many films are nominated, and each nominated film must receive at least 5% of the total #1 votes for Best Picture. Apparently, if this had been in place from 2001-2008, we would've had years with 6, 7, 8, and 9 nominees. So you never know just how many films will get it now. It all depends on the amount of passion for those chosen films. Kinda cool thought, but we'll see how it plays out come nomination morning.
Also a few tweaks in the Animated Feature category. Now there is no need for the Board to "activate" the category every year (which was unnecessary to start with), and as long as there are at least 8 films released in a given year, the category will stay. But, now the amount of films determines the amount of nominees as well. It breaks down like this...
8-12 films released = 2-3 nominees possible
13-15 films released = 4 nominees possible
16+ films released = 5 nominees possible
While I think the number should just always be 5 anyway, I do like the change in the voting. If in place last year, then 1 more film would've had a chance to be nominated, most likely either Despicable Me or Tangled?
And one more change in the Visual Effects category, which makes sense. Since the nominees were bumped up from 3 to 5 last year, now the "bakeoff" of 7 has been increased to 10. Whether they still release the initial "long list" of 15 semi-finalists is unknown at this point.