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.
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.