Share

More Numbers Explainers – Oscar’s Math

I think I just don’t have any room left in my brain’s hard drive to tackle this thing, that must explain why I choose not to think about it. Good thing others are. The folks over at Film School Rejects have worked it all out – thanks to reader Loyal who brought it to our attention. They’ve clarified in a way a dolt like me almost understands. Starting with:

The Problem

The reason for the new system is fairly simple. With 10 Best Picture nominees, and (for the sake of simplification) 6,000 votes, it would technically only take 601 votes for a movie to win Best Picture (if one film got 599 votes, and the eight others all got 600). That movie would have a clear plurality which is all that was required to win under the old system. The problem with this is fairly obvious and two-fold:

  • A movie earning just over 10% of the Academy‚Äôs favor winning is absurd. And, in my even-more-absurd example, the film wins with just one vote. Not exactly a huge margin of meaningful victory.

We know it’s happened before. We just know it. They continue:

Under the new system, Academy members will rank all 10 Best Picture nominees just like you did in high school when you chose Class Clown and Most Likely to End Up Homeless. The rankings will all be tallied, and the ballots will be arranged in 10 stacks corresponding to which film was chosen as #1 on them. For example, the ballots that list No Country for Old Men as the best film are over there by the water cooler, and the ballots listing Juno as #1 are to your left near the break room.

Okay, I think I’m getting it now. I’m definitely getting a clearer picture. Then:

If one film has a simple majority (over 50% of the members ranking it #1) then it’s declared the winner. This is possible, but highly unlikely to happen in the first round.

Right. Unless it’s Slumdog, Schindler’s List or Titanic. So then:

If no film has a simple majority, the smallest stack (and therefore the film with the fewest #1 rankings) gets removed and redistributed according to what movie was voted #2 on it. This process is repeated until a film has more than 50% of the votes. Theoretically, a film would need a large amount of #1s, #2s, #3s, and possibly #4s in order to take the Gold.

Make sense? Didn’t think so. Hopefully, a sample ballot will help!

No, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that Best Picture is not the number one vote of most members. Isn’t this going to make the BP winner have to be, by default, the most “popular,” deepening AMPAS’ problems? The most popular isn’t always the best. At least before voters were kind of cowed into voting for the “best” over the most popular. Under the new system Wall-E could have taken it.

Okay, so then they work up a sample ballot and from thence, at last a clear understanding with how it works. I still don’t understand, though, why people can’t just vote for one clear winner and the one with the most votes wins.

Thanks Film School Rejects!

Leave a Comment

Warning: Do not abuse your right to comment here. You will be deleted.