The Academy Makes Changes to the Best Picture Voting Rules
by Alex Billington
August 31, 2009
Back in June, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced that there would be 10 Best Picture nominees instead of 5 at the upcoming 82nd Academy Awards being held next February. To this day still, that decision causes heated debates among film fanatics, mainly because we don't yet know the kind of impact it will have, and every week we see new movies that have the potential to make it in as a nominee (District 9? Inglourious Basterds?). However, the Academy has announced new voting rules today for members that may effect the final outcome in a big way. It's confusing, but we'll do our best to explain.
Here's an explanation of the new voting rules courtesy of The Wrap. Read on for why it makes a difference.
Instead of just voting for one nominee, the way Academy members have almost always done on the final ballot, voters will be asked to rank all 10 nominees in order of preference — and the results will be tallied using the complicated preferential system, which has been used for decades during the nominating process but almost never on the final ballot.
As a result, a film could be the first choice of the largest number of voters, but find itself nudged out of the top prize by another movie that got fewer number one votes but more twos and threes.
The goal, says Academy executive director Bruce Davis, is to eliminate the possibility that one of the films could win with less than 18% of the vote. One of the issues that increasing the nominees to 10 presents is that, initially, members voting for one movie would vote so sporadically, that it would only take 18% for one movie to win - and that wouldn't be a proper representation of the Academy's choice for Best Picture (they want a majority). That's why this change was made, in order to eliminate that extreme possibility, with the Academy members ranking all 10 of the movies instead, then using a bit of math to determine the winner.
Our friends at Film School Rejects have a fantastic write-up on the new voting rules and both the good and bad. "The major problems have to do with voters themselves," Cole says, but "there are still going to be tight races, still going to be upsets and surprises, and still going to be some genuine winners." Everyone will argue about this for months and months, and even after the Best Picture winner is chosen next year, I'm sure a few people will still argue about it. That's just the nature of the Oscars, but it's also why they're so exciting. Right now I'm just looking forward to seeing what 10 movies end up getting nominated. Bring on the Oscars!