Oscar Watch: New Voting Method Hurts Marginal Academy Ballots

by Anne Thompson
June 23, 2011 6:04 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
Steve Pond's mathematical appraisal of the change in Academy voting compares last year's method of voting for top ten best pictures and the new approach that forces each movie to meet a standard of popularity. (He's using a sample of critic votes to make his case.) Thus, if certain films don't grab a percentage of top-place votes, they won't make it into contention during one single elimination round. Pond is suggesting that with the new voting rules, Academy votes for movies such as Biutiful and even Oscar-contenders True Grit and The Kids Are All Right might not have even been considered last year. Departing Academy executive director Bruce Davis doesn't argue with him.

Pond argues that about 25 % of ballots, ones with marginal top three choices, will be thrown out this way, as opposed to about 10% in the last two years. But the numbers Pond comes up with are less dramatic if you compare the new voting method with the one that existed before the Academy added ten best picture slots. Back in the good old days, Oscar voters chose their top five films--not ten. While it's certainly better not to have Oscar voters stretch to include movies they don't truly admire to fill out their ballot, I'd like the Academy to go back to voting for five. Pronto.

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More: Awards, Oscars

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