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Oscars Preferential Voting System for Best Picture Winner

Ray Milland Jane Wyman The Lost Weekend
Ray Milland, Jane Wyman in Billy Wilder’s 1945 drama The Lost Weekend (bottom). The first and last best picture Oscar winners by way of the preferential voting system.
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The winner of the 2010 best picture Oscar will be determined through the preferential voting system, which in the last six or so decades has been used to determine the Academy Award nominees in most categories.

According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ press release, the preferential voting system will be used because it “is [the] one that best allows the collective judgment of all voting members to be most accurately represented.” (In theory, perhaps. In practice it may be a different matter altogether. See more information on the preferential voting system.)

The chief reason for this change has been the Academy’s Board of Governors’ recent decision to extend the Best Picture category from five to 10 nominees. The preferential voting system was used to select the best picture Oscar winners from 1934 to 1945. There were 12 best picture nominees in 1934 and 1935; 10 from 1936 to 1943; and 5 in 1944 and 1945. From that time on, Academy members could pick only one film as the year’s best; the winner would be the film that received the highest number of votes.

The 2010 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The 2010 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 7, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it’ll be televised live by ABC.

Academy donation to Telluride Film Festival

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded a $50,000 grant to underwrite the 2009 edition of the Telluride Film Festival’s Guest Director program, which this year will feature Alexander Payne, among whose credits are ElectionAbout Schmidt, and Sideways.

This is the second consecutive year that the Academy has funded the program. In 2008, the festival’s guest director was Slovenian political philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Zizek.

Previous guest directors at the Telluride Film Festival include Academy Award-nominated writer-director Peter Bogdanovich, director Jean-Pierre Gorin, film curator and archivist Edith Kramer, Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris, author Salman Rushdie, Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier.

As per the Academy’s press release, the Academy Foundation — the Academy’s cultural and educational wing — annually grants more than $1 million to film scholars, cultural organizations and film festivals both in the US and abroad, all that in addition to the presentation of screenings and other public programs throughout the year.

The 2009 Telluride Film Festival runs Sept. 4–7.

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