Oscars' best picture race to factor in rankings

Academy ushers in preferential voting for 10 nominees

Adding another hurdle to this year's Oscar race, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will use a preferential voting system in tallying the final vote for best picture, where 10 nominees will be competing.

In all other categories, the victory goes to the performer or crafts¬person who earns the most votes, because members vote for one choice among the five nominees.

In the case of best picture, however, voters will be asked to rank their preference from 1 to 10, with 1 being best. It's the same preferential voting system that the Academy uses in its nominating process, but it hasn't been used in best picture voting since 1945.

The Academy has opted to use the preferential system in the best picture race because it realized that with a field of 10 nominees, a winner could emerge with just slightly more than 580 votes out of the potential voting pool of 5,800 members.

More awards coverage  
The preferential system is designed to measure depth of support, since second- and third-place choices can be just as important as first-place choices. "PricewaterhouseCoopers will then be able to establish the best picture recipient with the strongest support of a majority of our electorate," Academy president Tom Sherak said.

Under the system, ballots are first separated according to first-place choices. If one film wins a majority among all first-place votes, it's the winner.

If not, the film with the fewest number of first-place votes is eliminated and the No. 2 choices on those ballots are redistributed among the remaining films. The process continues until one film has picked up a majority of votes.

The process creates an added obstancle for Oscars campaigners, who will have to work to ensure they pick up as much wide support from Academy members as possible, because earning the gold trophy won't be a simple matter of amassing the most No. 1 votes.

As strategists absorbed the news, there was no immediate consensus on whether the preferential system might favor one type of film over another.

The answer might not come until the 82nd Annual Academy Awards on March 7.
comments powered by Disqus