Over two months ago, it was announced that the Best Picture category at the Oscars™ was expanding from five to ten nominees, making it more likely for those “close, but no cigar” movies (such as The Dark Knight last year) to get a Best Picture nomination the next time the Oscars roll around.

Now, another significant piece of news has surfaced, claiming that the voting system for Best Picture has been changed as well.

What’s almost always been the case (up until this point), is that Academy voters vote for one movie out of those nominated, and logically whichever movie gets the most votes wins the award for Best Picture. Simple and effective, right? Well, the new system is similar to the way the NOMINEES are chosen: instead of voting for just one movie, the voters will now rank the ten nominees in order of preference, and the result will be tallied using a rather complicated preferential system.

“Complicated” is the correct description, but keep your wits about you and try to get your head around THIS: the new voting system could mean that even though a certain film was the first choice of a (large) number of voters, it could still be nudged off that top spot by another film that got less votes for number one, but more votes for number two or three on the voter’s preferential list.

Told you it was complicated…

I’m sure most of you don’t want to have your head twisted by technical Oscar voting details, but if any of you are interested you can head over to FilmSchoolRejects who did a fantastic job explaining it all.

The reason for this change by the Academy is to eliminate the chance that a certain movie could win by only getting, for example, 18% of the votes. Even though he doesn’t say it in as many words, the Academy executive director, Bruce Davis, says that he doesn’t want a vote percentage that low to determine which movie is Best Picture.

The aim is to get a majority vote, which would have been (in most years) a mathematical impossibility under the old “tick the box next to what you think is the Best Picture” system. Since the nominee slate has been expanded from five to ten, the votes would have potentially been so sporadic that a lower percentage could mean a film wins Best Picture, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, just isn’t right.

I have to say I’m torn on this Academy move: On the one hand the old system was simple, easy to understand and effective when there were five nominees. This new system will inevitably cause some confusion for Academy voters, who now have to get used to a new way of working. As FSR notes, there may even be some ballots not counted because they weren’t filled out correctly (we’ve ALL done that ourselves with forms and applications!).

However, on the other hand I think this sort of a move is completely justified, because, as stated, with the nominees list expanded, the old system doesn’t work anymore. If there is going to be ten nominees (and I’ve already explained that I don’t think there should be that many), a change to the voting system IS needed.

What do you think about the new voting system that is being implemented by the Academy?

Sources: FilmSchoolRejects, TheWrap and FirstShowing

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