I’ve been waiting for Steve Pond’s write-up on the whole Oscar’s math paradigm. To me, it’s gobbledegook. Anyway, so here is Steve:
But in the final count, you need 50 percent of the votes, plus one. You need consensus, not passion. A polarizing film, even if it gets more first-place votes than any other, will have a hard time winning.
After I tallied the critics‚Äô Top 10 lists to determine a slate of nominees, I went one step further and kept going to determine a winner. ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker,‚Äù which led from the first round, won easily, with 66 votes in the final round to 33 for ‚ÄúUp in the Air.‚Äù
But of those 66 ballots that cast votes for ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker,‚Äù only 26 of them had the film listed in the number-one spot. The rest were from elsewhere on the ballot ‚Äì mostly the number two and three slots, plus a few from lower down.
If that holds true when PricewaterhouseCoopers tallies up the final Oscar ballots, it means that the winning film will get fewer than half its votes in the number-one spot. Which means the key to winning is not having more number-one votes than anybody else, but being in the top two or three on the ballots where you‚Äôre not listed as number one.
To reach 50 percent, the wining film is going to need to pick up hundreds, most likely thousands, of number-two and number-three votes.
And while I think ‚ÄúAvatar‚Äù will have no problem picking up lots of number-ones ‚Äì if I had to guess, I‚Äôd say it‚Äôll have a significant lead after the initial count ‚Äì I think it might run into trouble with the number-two and number-three votes, in a way that top contenders like ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker‚Äù and ‚ÄúUp in the Air‚Äù and ‚ÄúInglourious Basterds‚Äù won‚Äôt.
The key, I think, is to look at the other films that‚Äôll likely be nominated, and ask this: If a voter‚Äôs favorite film is ‚ÄúAn Education,‚Äù or ‚ÄúUp,‚Äù or ‚ÄúInvitcus,‚Äù or ‚ÄúPrecious,‚Äù or ‚ÄúDistrict 9,‚Äù which film is likelier to be next on their list ‚Äì ‚ÄúAvatar,‚Äù ‚ÄúThe Hurt Locker,‚Äù ‚ÄúUp in the Air,‚Äù ‚ÄúInglourious Basterds‚Äù or ‚ÄúPrecious?‚Äù
Of those top contenders, it strikes me that ‚ÄúAvatar‚Äù is by far the most polarizing, and the most likely to be low-ranked by people who don‚Äôt put it at the top of their ballot. People who love it, love it ‚Äì but it also has detractors, and those detractors have more than a month to rally their forces against the perceived juggernaut.
Okay, that hurt my brain, even more than helping my daughter with her 6th grade math. But here is my thought – tell me if I’m on the money. Avatar might have been number one. But maybe it isn’t anymore. Maybe it’s nestled in the top ten somewhere, on everyone’s ballot, but not number one? It’s possible.
And I’ll add Ladylurks explanation as well:
As I understand it, all categories except for BP will remain the same. But since they didn‚Äôt want the BP winner to possibly have only 10-15% of the total votes, they decided to go preferential in that category. So now they will place all ballots in 10 piles based on the #1 votes. The nominee with the smallest pile is eliminated and those ballots get redistributed based on the #2 votes, and so on, until one film has 50% +1, or until there are only two films left standing (when obviously one will have more than 50%). So every #1 vote for D9 or Trek will eventually end up in Avatar‚Äôs pile, assuming that person also voted for Avatar above HL, IB or UITA.
Tom O‚ÄôNeil is saying (and I have no idea if it‚Äôs true) that the PGA also went preferential for BP this year. If so, that could be a very good sign for Hurt Locker‚Äôs chance at the Oscars.
So, Steve Pond says that Avatar could still get the most number one votes and still not win. This is the part my thick head doesn’t get. Why not? Why wouldn’t the film with the most number 1 votes win? I know there is a reason, but my brain scars won’t help me get it.