Arts and Culture

Academy Awards: How the Winners Win


Staff Writer

  To everyone outside the closed Hollywood circuit, the Oscars are the most exclusive star-studded event in all of Tinsel Town. What most moviegoers do not realize is that the Awards also have an exceptionally elusive voting process decided upon by the Hollywood elite, or the “Academy.” So how do the Academy Award nominees nab the gilded and surprisingly heavy (about 8.5 pounds) statuette? The Vanity Fair YouTube Channel and “” helped me break down the process.

  The Academy is made up of over 6,000 highly regarded Hollywood professionals who have been working in the industry for the past decade. Anyone ranging from head makeup artists to heavily sought after directors can be part of the Academy. For the majority of the categories, each member votes within their area of expertise (directors vote for Best Director, etc.) –– except for Best Picture, which can be voted on by any member of the Academy––and whichever nominee cashes in the most votes wins .

   The Best Picture category has a very complex voting system. It is not solely based on each member’s top choice, but is instead done by preference. Each member of the Academy ranks each nominee from one to 10, one being the first choice. Each ballot counts as one point, and the top pick on that member’s ballot is given to that film accordingly. If a film acquires 50 percent plus one vote, then they take home the statuette, but this rarely ever happens on the first go, so then the points from the film with the lowest points are given to the second choice on that member’s ballot. This process continues until one film breaks 50 percent.

   Let me break this down into something more manageable: take this year’s nominees (“Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star is Born,” and “Vice”). Let’s say that “The Favourite” gains the least amount of points on the first try: The ballot counters would look back onto the ballots of those who chose that movie as their first choice and give their point to their second choice (let’s say the majority of those who put down “The Favourite” as number one put “BlacKkKlansman” as second on their ballot). Where “BlacKkKlansman” used to only have 45 percent of the votes, because of the preference system, the movie would now have more than 50 percent of the votes and would win Best Picture.

   Now you can sit down, grab some popcorn, and watch the Oscars knowing that a lot more goes into the process other than booking a relevant and politically correct comedian to host (sorry, Kevin Hart) or ensuring that the correct envelope is opened for that particular category so that another “La La Land”/”Moonlight” Best Picture mix up doesn’t happen again.

The 2019 Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Feb. 24. Image courtesy of