I’m now starting to feel a little better about the 10 Best Picture nominees thing. In the wake of its decision to double the number of films that earn the Oscars’ biggest nod from five to 10, the Academy has decided to change the way it determines the Best Picture winner, according to the veteran Oscar journalist Steve Pond over at The Wrap. And I have to say, I’m totally on board with this move. It’s a little complicated, but let me try to explain: In the past, once the nominees were announced, Academy members voted only for the one film they thought should win the award, and the film with the most votes won. But with so many nominees next year, it’s feasible that a movie could have won Best Picture with only 11 percent of the vote, which seems crazy. So now, once the 10 nominees are named, voters will rank the films from 1 to 10. All the No. 1 votes will be counted, and if no film has more than 50 percent of the vote (which will certainly be the case), the last-place film will be eliminated and the voters who voted for that film will have their No. 2 votes counted instead. That process will continue until one film has a majority of the votes. As Pond points out, there is a chance that the film that ends up winning won’t actually have the most No. 1 votes, but will instead emerge the victor in the second, third, or fourth rounds. But I’d rather see that happen than have a Best Picture with a paltry 11 percent of the vote.
The upshot here is that Oscar campaigners who used to try to cultivate a small cult of fans for their films will now need to canvass more broadly to snag those all-important No. 2 and No. 3 rankings as well. In other words, when it comes to individual Oscar ballots, winning is no longer everything.