Steve Pond Explains It All: How the Oscars Voting Process Actually Works (Video)

The Academy's preferential system can be hard to explain in print, so TheWrap's Awards Editor will demonstrate — with poker chips

How does a movie get to be named Best Picture at the Oscars? It's not just a matter of getting more votes than your competitors — that would be too easy.

Also read: Academy Vows No Best Picture Tie at the Oscars

Instead, ever since AMPAS expanded the field from five to 10 nominees in 2009, the Academy and its accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers have used an arcane process called the preferential system (or instant runoff voting), a variation of which is also used to come up with the Oscar nominations in most categories.

The system can be hard to explain, and so difficult to grasp that most Oscar voters have no idea how it works. But we know how — so here's a tutorial to explain the basics.

  • fergusontx

    Nice work, Professor Pond! Any idea what percentage of voters get “cute” with their ballot and only vote for ONE, likely wasting the vote? Seems like those voters should get your educational video.

    • Steve Pond

      I have no idea how many do that, but I know it happens. A few voters have told me they do it, expecting me to applaud their keen strategy.

  • Jack Brown

    Can there be a tie for #1 Best Picture? If there is a tie how is it broken or are all ties awarded Best Picture?

  • jacob

    Great video! Explained really well and really interesting, never even knew it worked like that!