There is much debate on Twitter happening over the idea that the Academy’s preferential system, where they have five nomination slots that produce a random count between 5 and 10 (theoretically). I’m the lone wolf who believes it’s near impossible to have that happen. The reason I think this is that it would have happened by now. So far, we’ve had 9 nominees all but last year, where we had 8. Three years of 9, one year of 8. The Academy took a decade and ran their preferential system to see what came out of it. They never came up with 10. I said it was “mathematically impossible” to have broad support overall to match the necessary numbers to create the ideal situation for 10. I say this partly to fend off people thinking that there are 10 nominees for Best Picture when there aren’t, and I say it because ultimately I’m a pessimist by nature. Well, I was unanimously shut down by various people who kept saying “it’s possible.” Ryan Adams, in fact, has long maintained that it’s possible. So far, I’ve been right about it. But maybe this will be the year that changes.
Steve Pond counted the Critics Choice ballots as he does every year over at the Wrap to figure out and explain the confusing preferential balloting system. Every year his experiment has produced 8 nominees to the Academy’s 9. One off. The only match was last year’s 8 and 8. That means that Steve’s experiment has, 100% of the time, producing 8. Until this year, where it miraculously leaped ahead to 10.
Steve says “there’s something different about this year.” He believes that difference is more broad support overall. That could partly explain why the SAG nomination committee seemed so off the general consensus leading up to it. There is no doubt that there are a lot of good movies this year, great movies even, that could offer a spreading of the wealth more than in years where several major films dominate.
Still, you have to wonder if this is real or not. The BFCA voters are a different species from Oscar voters, who have been conditioned since the 1940s to think about five best films, not ten. That means, there are likely still to have five most popular films this year in their minds – five movies most of them are passionate about. But wouldn’t it be cool if there were ten? It would be REALLY cool. I will not get my hopes up because my usual philosophy after following the Oscars or 17 years is to expect the worst and hope for the best.
Steve lays this all out really well and offers up a great explanation for any of you trying to figure it out:
After determining the total number of ballots cast, you begin by finding the “magic number” required to guarantee a nomination. That is done by dividing the total number of ballots by 11 (the number of available nominations, plus one). Example: If 250 critics voted, the number would be 22.7. If the result is a whole number, you add 1; if it’s a decimal, you go up to the next highest whole number, in this hypothetical case 23.
On the ballot, BFCA voters were asked to rank their top five films in order of preference – but at this stage of the count, we’re only concerned with No. 1 choices. Any film that is not the first choice of at least one voter is eliminated from contention, regardless of how many No. 2 or No. 3 votes it receives.
According to Britton, 38 of this year’s films received first-place votes and remained in the running. That’s 10 more than received first-place votes last year, and the most that have ever done so during the five years we’ve conducted this recount.
He goes on to write:
Any film with more than the magic number of first-place votes becomes an automatic nominee. Only one film did so this year, whereas three had done so the last two years in a row. (Feel free to guess which one was a first-round nominee: I suspect it’s “Spotlight,” though it could be “The Martian,” “Mad Max” or “Carol.”)
He goes on to explain things that are outside my range of being able to understand them but you should read it. He closes with:
Of the 38 films that received first-place votes, here’s the breakdown:
First-round nomination, redistributed under surplus rule: 1 film
Second-round nomination: 3 films
Third-round nomination: 6 films
Not nominated, not redistributed: 7 films
Fell below one percent, redistributed: 21 films
They ended up with 10 nominees. The thing that must be remembered is that Steve’s experiment has not produced a matching number except one year, last. I suspect that’s because of the small number of voting members (two hundred or so) compared with the Academy’s 6,000. But he does sense that there could be more broad support for many different films. Also keep in mind that even when the Academy had ten nominees, they still split with the consensus, and even the Producers Guild, by nominating a film outside of it, like The Blind Side. That means even if we all think which films they like best, we might not be entirely right.
You can gauge which films were most popular with BFCA by how many films got the most nominations. Steve theorizes that Spotlight was the one that took the number one spot first. I suspect it was Mad Max, which came in with the most nominations, 13. Carol, The Martian and The Revenant all had 9 nominations. So you can figure, on Steve’s list, those were all in. So that leaves us with, so far:
Mad Max: Fury Road
We can safely add:
We’re pretty sure we can add:
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
That leaves us with 8 right now.
The BFCA also added:
That’s ten. Now, we have to figure Star Wars in because it will get a Producers Guild nomination.
Now, we have to think about SAG and Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation and Trumbo. Beasts was never going to be a BFCA choice. It wasn’t a critics’ darling in the least. But that SAG ensemble nom is huge. Ditto and probably even more so for Straight Outta Compton.
I would swap out Sicario for Straight Outta Compton or Beasts of No Nation, with an eye on passionately loved Brooklyn and also loved, Star Wars.