Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited on NPR to talk about the adapted screenplay race. It surprised host Rachel Martin that the screenplay race, it turned out, wasn’t so much about the individual screenplays as it was about the Best Picture category. This is probably the hardest thing to grasp about the way Oscars vote. Everybody votes for everything when it comes to picking the winners in the various categories. So you have actors voting for cinematography, editors voting for screenplay, costumers voting for animation, publicists voting for actors — and everyone votes for Best Picture. The truly best indicator of what the professional industry thinks are really the guild awards.
She was also surprised to hear that those voting for adapted screenplay don’t have to have seen all of the films nominated. Heck, the year Brokeback lost to Crash many Academy members came out and admitted they didn’t see the movie. This year, if you polled Academy members I bet you’d find that there are those voting members who still have to have seen all nine of the nominees. Voting is buzz and perception. When you fall in love with a pretty girl across the room not only do you not see anyone else but you don’t even want to look at anyone else. Such is the conundrum of choosing “best.”