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Academy to use preferential voting to pick best picture

August 31, 2009 |  4:05 pm

Get out the calculator -- Oscar voting just got more complicated.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today took the long expected step to ensure that this year's best picture winner won't be hated by 90% of its members by going with a preferential voting system for members.

In a preferential voting system, votes for the least popular first choice movie are eliminated and those members' second choices are taken into account. The process continues until a nominee receives more than 50% of the votes.

Academy spokesperson Leslie Unger confirmed that the organization will apply the same preferential voting system it uses in the Oscar nomination process to best picture voting starting this winter. The news was first reported by The Wrap.

Such a move has been in the works since the Academy decided in June to expand the number of best picture nominees from five to 10. At the time, Academy Vice President Hawk Koch said that there would be a change in the voting process, stating, "We want to make sure that 11% does not win the best picture."

Under the old system, members simply voted for their first choice. With 10 nominees, that would mean a movie with one vote more than 10% could theoretically be named best picture.

Other categories will continue to utilize the traditional single-vote process to pick winners.

The change marks the first time that the Academy has used preferential voting for best picture since at least 1944, when it reduced the number of nominees from 10 to five.

Update (6:10 PM): Unger clarified that in fact that last time preferential voting was used to select the best picture was in 1945.

--Ben Fritz

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