But in the Best Picture category — which used to be listed in the middle of the Oscar ballot, but will now be in a separate, detachable section — voters will be asked to rank the nominees in order of preference, one through 10. Those ballots will then be tallied using the preferential system (for a full-blown explanation, click here) in which the film with the fewest Number One votes will be eliminated, and its votes redistributed based on the film listed second on those ballots. Eventually, one film will wind up with more than 50 percent of the vote, and will be named the Academy’s Best Picture of 2009.
The Best Picture nominations will be ranked choice voting this year, something we here in Tacoma know a lot about. With such a broad field, this makes a lot of sense. It also shouldn’t fall prey to the danger of RCV with a lot of unknown names because all the movies should have very high name recognition.
In a sense, every voter will be able to create a Top Ten List, and the most-respected on all those lists will be deemed the winner. It’s certainly possible that this will push the ballots toward mediocrity, or at the very least, toward the movie most people have seen. But Best Picture has gone to some of those films before, so perhaps this won’t be that different.