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industry news

Academy Awards unwraps new voting system details

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Under the new method that the Academy Awards will utilize to determine which film is the Best Picture during next year's ceremony, the movie that receives the most votes for being number one could still lose to a film that has more votes being second choice amongst Oscar voters.

It may sound nutty at first but here's how the new system will work. When the 5,800 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences get their voter cards for Best Picture next year, instead of simply marking an X beside which film of the five nominees they believe is Best Picture, now they must rank the expanded list of 10 Best Picture candidates from their top pick to their least-favorite movie. What that means is potentially more people could select Film B as their second-favorite Best Picture choice than Film A which might have more votes for #1 than Film B, but if more voters place Film B in second spot it could become Best Picture.

It's a radical rethinking of the way Best Pictures have been chosen in the past and it's going to make studios have to rethink their Oscar marketing campaigns as we enter the 2008-2009 awards season. A dark horse underdog that everyone likes second or third best could capture Best Picture over a head-to-head competition for top vote on the ballot.

"The system has long been used in the round of voting which determines the nominees in most categories, but it has not been used on the final ballot for best picture since 1945," AMPAS explained in a statement released yesterday. "With 10 nominees, the preferential system is one that best allows the collective judgment of all voting members to be most accurately represented."

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting body that handles tabluation of the Oscar votes, will look at the returned cards submitted by Oscar members and see if a film gets more than 50% of the popular vote for first-place. If it does it will be crowned Best Picture. If no film has greater than 50% of the first place vote, the body will eliminate films that have lesser number of votes until they determine which one has the greater share of the popular vote. A voter's top choice for Best Picture will be given a value of 1 while the least-favorite film is given a value of 10.

-Variety, AMPAS.

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