In his new The Wrap Oscar column “The Odds,” Steve Pond reveals new voting rules to accompany the top ten best picture Oscar contenders. 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. This seems like a reasonable–if arcane–solution. And one that will change the way Oscar campaigners have sought to persuade voters to choose their number one favorite. That’s less important now. The top five favorites will now become key.
Instead of just voting for one nominee, the way Academy members have 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 never, until now, 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.
It sounds crazy, but there’s good reason to make the change at a time when dividing the vote among an expanded slate of 10 nominees could otherwise allow a film to win with fewer than 1,000 votes (out of the nearly 6,000 voting members).