Thanks to Kris Tapley for tipping us off to this really awesome math experiment undertaken by The Wrap’s Steve Pond. He actually took all of the top ten lists from Movie City News and ran them through as Oscar might rank them (of course, keeping in mind that critics aren’t Academy voters and they differ in both their tastes and their obligations to see or not see “everything). Nonetheless:
Note: I used the Top 10 lists that are included on the site‚Äôs ‚ÄúList of Lists‚Äù pages ‚Äì which, when you leave off the critics who don‚Äôt rank their choices (sorry, Roger Ebert), number just over 120. Several dozen more lists are now incorporated into a chart on a different MCN page, but without an easy way to view those lists, it would have been too time-consuming to add them to the mix.
More after the cut.
I put the lists in stacks, I moved them around, I eliminated the weakest competitors and redistributed the ballots, all in keeping with the complicated rules for preferential tallying.
I ended up with a slate of 10 Best Picture nominees (yes, ‚ÄúAvatar‚Äù was on it), and then I looked back at the ballots to see how the count had played out.
Bear in mind that under the preferential system, you list multiple films but you‚Äôre really just casting a single vote for a single film. (And if ‚ÄúA Single Man‚Äù is the single film that gets your single vote ‚Ä¶ well, it‚Äôs enough to make your head spin.)
If your number-one choice needs your vote, that‚Äôs where it goes. If your top choice is eliminated for not having enough support, or conversely if it has so many votes that it doesn‚Äôt need yours, then the rest of your ballot comes into play.
And here‚Äôs the deal with my count: in two-thirds of the cases, 81 out of 122 ballots, all or part of the vote went to the critic‚Äôs first choice. But second, third and fifth choices also counted fairly often (rarely fourth choices, though there‚Äôs no good reason for that), and a dozen voters actually helped out candidates with their sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth choices.
Richard Roeper, for instance, unknowingly cast his vote for ‚ÄúFantastic Mr. Fox,‚Äù which was listed seventh on his ballot. Eric Kohn of indieWIRE did the same for ‚ÄúA Serious Man,‚Äù which he‚Äôd put in his eighth slot.
You have to go to Steve’s page to read the whole thing — but here is how it all came out:
1. ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker‚Äù
2. ‚ÄúUp in the Air‚Äù
3. ‚ÄúA Serious Man‚Äù
4. ‚ÄúInglourious Basterds‚Äù
6. ‚ÄúFantastic Mr. Fox‚Äù
8. ‚Äú35 Shots of Rum‚Äù
10. ‚ÄúThe White Ribbon‚Äù
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that The Hurt Locker would top these lists. The day these ten are Oscar’s Best Picture ten is the day pigs sprout wings and fly – nonetheless, it helped me understand how it all works. The point Pond makes with his piece is that members should still fill in all the way down to ten because who knows what might get picked up, particularly if your number one and two choices are films that are assured a nod.