After realizing that with an expanded field of ten Best Picture nominees a film could potentially win Oscar’s top prize with just slightly more than 10 percent of the vote, the Academy yesterday announced the details of its new balloting system for the category: This year, voters will rank all ten nominated movies in order of preference, ensuring a winner “with the strongest support of a majority of our electorate,” instead of just one with a small plurality, says AMPAS prez Tom Sherak. Sounds reasonable to us. So who gets an unfair advantage?
We freely admit to knowing nothing, but the change obviously favors populist, non-divisive, consensus-building films over niche-y, controversial, argument-starting ones. So if Pixar’s Up is the only blockbuster nominated among darker, smaller-budget art-house fare (and the expensive but murder-y Lovely Bones, maybe), then does it have the edge?
Also, the switch presumably helps the movies seen by the most voters — so might this give an advantage to those released earlier in the year? Supposedly, the Weinstein Company’s Oscar strategy for Inglourious Basterds was to schedule it for August, then flood voters’ and journalists’ mailboxes with inexpensive, un-watermarked screeners around the time of the movie’s DVD release, at year’s end (other campaigners, whose films hit theaters in the fall, will have to shell out for costlier watermarked screeners, for fear of leakage). So if Up gets shafted, maybe this is a win for The Hurt Locker? Stay tuned, we guess!