Good Morning Oscar, Feb. 11: Preferential Treatment

Pundits discover the preferential system, and try to figure out what it’ll mean to the Best Picture race

Last Updated: February 11, 2010 @ 8:07 AM

In this morning’s roundup of Oscar news ‘n’ notes from around the web, pundits discover the preferential system, and try to figure out what it’ll mean to the Best Picture race.

The Associated Press uses the Academy’s ballot mailing as an excuse to look at the preferential system that’ll be used to tally the final Best Picture votes. Sandy Cohen delivers a pretty straightforward account of the process, and quotes PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Rick Rosas as essentially dismissing the idea that the film with the most Number One votes could somehow lose. Hey, he’s counted a lot more Oscar ballots than I have, but I know that scenario definitely can occur. (The AP via Yahoo! News)

Vanity Fair, meanwhile, also discovers preferential voting, with John Lopez apparently deciding that because he didn’t know about it before, neither did any other entertainment reporters. “[N]o one seemed to notice that the Academy also switched to a preferential voting system for the best-picture category,” he wrote, and then referenced a February 3 piece at the Envelope. “That is, until Steven Zeitchik at the L.A. Times exposed the system … ” As the person who broke the news about the voting change back in August, and then wrote repeatedly about how it works and what it means, including an explanation of how the movie with the most Number One votes could lose that ran five months before Zeitchik’s explanation of how the movie with the most Number One votes could lose, I find myself a little annoyed. But I do like the demonstration – complete with a mock vote rigged to let “Inglourious Basterds” win – of how the system really is a fair way to determine the overall feeling of the electorate. “Whoever wins,” Lopez writes, “we are about to get the best sense we’ve ever had of what the Academy really thinks.” (Vanity Fair)

Harvey Weinstein tells Pete Hammond that “Inglourious Basterds” is going to win Best Picture. Why? Preferential voting, that’s why. Plus a big Weinstein Company promotional push that includes ads, Q&As, screenings, parties, lunches and all the other stuff Harvey does so well. (Notes on a Season)

Ad Age looks at how the Oscars have discovered social media this year with an aggressive strategy that includes a Facebook page, more exclusive content on Oscar.com, and an Oscars iPhone app. “For a really conservative organization, we’re trying to push the envelope into new media and new strategies,” the Academy’s marketing director tells Andrew Hampp. But while producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman (a frequent Tweeter) would like to integrate Twitter and Facebook into the telecast, that won’t be happening. Maybe next year. (Advertising Age)

Guy Lodge talks to the director of “the finest film to be nominated in any category at this year’s Academy Awards,” which he says is Jacques Audiard’s Foreign-Language nominee “A Prophet.” The director says he’s interested in exploring “the idea of what makes a hero in the real world” … and that if he had it to do over again, he’d give the movie a different title and avoid the religious implications. (In Contention)

If you were to list all the directors ever nominated for Academy Awards in alphabetical order, Woody Allen would come first and Fred Zinneman would be last. If this information is important to you – or if you’d like to find out that, for instance, no director whose name starts with V or I has ever won an Oscar – Sijmen’s Oscar Experiment has just the chart for you.  Plus they’ve got the same thing with actors, from F. Murray Abraham to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Fun fact: the only two Oscar-nominated actors whose names start with Z were “Chicago” co-stars Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger. (Sijmen’s Oscar Experiment)