How Do The Academy Awards Actually Work?

The Academy Awards are not so slowly creeping up and predictions and favourites have begun to roll in from left, right and centre, but, do you actually know how the Academy votes for the nominees?

Let us inform you all!

Firstly, there is a standard but very extensive shortlisting procedure conducted through balloting schemes, producing a list of people and movie seen worthy for a nomination. After this, the 6300 members of the Academy cast their votes and the the most popular, will become the nominees for each individual category.

To become part of this esteemed Academy, you have be in the glamorous business and must have  “high level of quality and distinction” in each members individual’s field. For example, actors must have three credited roles and directors must have at least two credits. It’s a given that each member of the Academy is extremely able and talented in their fields. Members can also be nominated or sponsored.

Sadly for the multitalented members for the academy, each member can only be part of one brach within the academy. Brad Pitt can only belong the acting branch and not the producing branch. These branches become important since each member can only vote within their branch. However, all members of the academy are entitled to vote for the Best Picture nominees.

There are tight rules which the Academy must obey when nominating films and people. For a film to be nominated, the film’s producer must have submitted an “Official Screen Credits.” ensuring that criteria has been met. In order to be considered, the film should be over forty minutes, have been screened in LA with paid admission for a minimum of seven days and finally it should have a theatrical premiere.

For the final determination of nominees, ballots are sent out and voters are allowed to list a maximum of five names, listed in order of their preference.

Here’s a clip of Jennifer Lawrence’s experience with the Academy ballots.

It comes as quite a shock that this entire process is actually organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accountancy firm that has in fact handled this for the last eighty years! The firm is responsible for mailing out the ballots of eligible nominees in December.

Once all the ballots have been sent back, PwC begins to sift through all the votes and determine which of the eligible nominees become official. They firstly have to find the number of votes required to make an eligible, an official. ”

To determine the magic number, PwC takes the total number of ballots received for a particular category and divides it by the total possible nominees plus one. An easy example is to take 600 potential ballots for the Best Actor category, divide that by 6 (5 possible nominees plus 1), thus making the magic number for the category 100 ballots to become an official nominee.”

They then begin to count. Even though we are in the twenty-first century this counting is still done manually. This process still isn’t as simple as it seems. The first nominee to reach the ‘magic number’ claims the first spot as a nominee and the ballots that name that nominee as their first choice, are set aside, leaving four spaces in that category. Ballots are sent out again based on people’s second choices but actors in the race retain their votes from the initial round. This complicated procedure continues until all five spaces have been taken. It’s clear that PwC deserves a round of applause!

The nominations this year will be announced on Thursday the fourteenth of January and the actual evening will take place, as usual, in Beverly Hills. From the day the nominations are announced to the big day, the members of the Academy are allowed to  vote on each category and once again PwC counts up the votes to finalise the winner!

We know that all you film fanatics are eagerly awaiting the nominees so go ahead and tweet us your thoughts @CelebMix !


(Information credit to Mental Floss UK, the official Oscars website, Telegraph, wikipedia.)

Written by CelebMix