More New Changes to the 2010 Oscar Race

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Earlier this year came the announcement that the 2010 Oscars will have 10 nominees, rather than the usual 5. Now we learn that the way the winner is chosen is completely different as well. In the past of the five nominees, the voters are asked to choose their number one. This year voters will be asked to rank them with a number 1 through 10, with each rank worthy of a point. The film with the most points gets the nomination.

From The Wrap:

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).

“There are certain mathematical dangers with more nominees,” says the Academy’s executive director, Bruce Davis, who revealed the new rule exclusively to TheWrap. “You could really get a fragmentation to the point where a picture with 18 or 20 percent of the vote could win, and the board didn’t want that to happen.”

Voters will be asked to rank the 10 best picture nominees in order of preference, one through 10. Davis says that the category will be listed on a special section of the Oscar ballot, detachable from the rest so that a separate team of PricewaterhouseCoopers staffers can undertake the more complicated tabulation process.

Initially, PwC will separate the ballots into 10 stacks, based on the top choice on each voter’s ballot. If one nominee has more than 50 percent of the vote (unlikely, but conceivable some years), we have a winner.

But if no film has a majority, then the film ranked first on the fewest number of ballots will be eliminated.  Its ballots will then be redistributed into the remaining piles, based on whichever film is ranked second on those ballots.

If those second-place votes are enough to push one of the other nominees over the 50 percent threshold, the count ends. If not, the smallest of the nine remaining piles is likewise redistributed. Then the smallest of the eight piles, then the smallest of the seven…

Eventually, one film will wind up with more than 50 percent.

I actually quite like this system. More than likely the film that gets the most number 1 votes will end up the winner, but I like that it depends on how high the film is ranked overall. This means that some films that completely polarize voters (like I imagine 2005’s Crash did) might not end up the winner.

What do you think of the Academy’s new changes?

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  • Mac Wilson

    A sea change in Oscar voting. It’ll take me a few days to wrap my head around this.

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