Critics Choice – roughly 200-300 members, ten choices for Best Picture, ten Best Pictures named.
National Board of Review – roughly 100 members, ten choices for Best Picture, ten Best Pictures named.
AFI – roughly 30 members or so, ten choices for Best Picture, ten Best Pictures named.
SAG-150,000 voters, five choices for Best Picture, plurality ballot (most votes).
DGA-15,000 or so, five choices for Best Picture, plurality ballot (most votes).
Oscar voters — 6,000 or so members. 5 choices for Best Picture – preferential ballot.
Producers Guild, 6,000 or so members, 10 choices for Best Picture – preferential ballot
The only two groups that, as far as I know, use the preferential ballot are the Oscars and the Producers Guild. The Oscars give members only five choices for Best Picture. The spillover is included.
Why that matters: The AFI usually gets at the most 7 or 8 matching Oscar’s Best Picture. We know that Zootopia isn’t getting in. The three locks appear to still be:
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
After that, it gets a little sketchy. You have a lot of potential nominees but after seeing Carol shut out, and Inside Llewyn Davis shut out and Nightcrawler/Foxcatcher/Gone Girl shut out, we can’t possibly know which of these films will, in fact, make it through and which ones NOT named will get in.
These are the three that didn’t make their list:
But any of them that gets the SAG ensemble nomination, which Loving – at the very least – might, that is a stronger indicator that it is beloved on a broader scale.
The Academy gets five and not ten, which means they tend to pick films they PASSIONATELY love rather than those they do not passionately love. Darker films have a hard time. We don’t know but we think they might go for Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, Silence, Sully, etc., but we just can’t know for sure. Moreover, we can’t even be sure once we see the PGA. We can get a pretty good idea by looking at crossover between PGA/DGA and SAG but we’re a ways off from that.
All of this to say that rumors of any film’s demise, at this stage of the race, are greatly exaggerated.