On the preferential system

Posted by · 6:36 pm · February 9th, 2010

BallotWe’ve said it before, but the preferential balloting aspect of this year’s Best Picture race has been somewhat neglected by the media and the insistent positioning of the race as “Avatar” vs. “The Hurt Locker.” I see in one corner of the web that Anne Thompson is still calling that the battle “all the way,” with no mention of how the new schematic totally changes that perception.

Elsewhere, it’s catching on.  In his latest Notes on a Season column, Pete Hammond posits, as I did in this space last week, that Pixar’s “Up” could be a potential beneficiary of the system as it could be in the number two or three position on a great many ballots.  Intriguingly, he also finds a Fox exec willing to say the same thing about “Avatar,” a film clearly more polarizing than a number of it’s co-nominees.

Hendrick Hertzberg is also coming around to things at The New Yorker, noting that few people who have seen “The Hurt Locker” actively dislike it, which is of course why it’s our likely victor.  Even though Hertzberg is coming from the “Avatar” versus “The Hurt Locker” side of things, at least he’s posing the argument.

Meanwhile, at Movieline, Mark Lisanti skewers both the process and the obsession over it. Here’s an excerpt from his scenario:

If Avatar is listed in the number one slot, the ballot is placed in a pile labeled “Easily Distracted By Groundbreaking Visuals, Record-Setting Box Office, And Six-Legged Horses,” where it will be sneered at by the accountants maintaining the much smaller An Education and A Serious Man piles, then urinated upon by the supervisor assigned to the Inglourious Basterds pile.

Oh, and this one MUST be passed along:

If Inglourious Basterds is in the bottom half of a ballot, it’s awarded a five-spot “Weinstein bonus” per vote. Any accountant failing to apply the bonus will awake the next morning to find the scalped head of a Nazi on his pillow, and FOR YOUR RE-CONSIDERATION scrawled in pig’s blood on the bedroom wall.

One thing is for certain.  No Academy member is likely to give all of this a second’s thought, meaning that a great many people will be unknowingly assisting the films they don’t put at the top of their ballot.  But hey, knowledge is power.

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 2-09-2010 at 7:40 pm

    bill said...

    ha i wish the weinsteins would do that, im rooting for basterds or up
    hurt locker or avatar would be fine
    a serious man wouyld be agreat suprise!
    nay on the rest!

  • 2 2-09-2010 at 8:19 pm

    Jessica said...

    Unless something aside from Avatar or The Hurt Locker wins, will never know if the preferential voting changed the outcome from the usual horse race.

  • 3 2-09-2010 at 9:09 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Yeah, I actually think Hurt Locker looks to have jumped to a pretty significant lead in the BP race and it is the new voting system that is keeping things interesting.

    Also, and maybe there is nothing to this, but I wonder if this balloting system hurts any frontrunner; for instance I could see voters pulling for an Avatar or Inglorious Basterds upset intentionally putting Hurt Locker near the bottom of their ballot in order to help their cause.

  • 4 2-09-2010 at 9:18 pm

    cineJAB said...

    am I the only one more disappointed about A Serious Man getting a nomination than I am about The Blind Side?

  • 5 2-09-2010 at 9:27 pm

    deets said...

    I think ‘Up’ has no chance. I see too many actors being biased against the fact that there are no live performances. but maybe I’ll eat my words.

  • 6 2-09-2010 at 11:42 pm

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    cineJAB, no you’re not

  • 7 2-10-2010 at 12:19 am

    Angelica Timothy said...

    don’t be such morons A serious man is a masterpiece, and The blind side is a piece of shit!

  • 8 2-10-2010 at 3:31 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    So the high betting odds for anything besides The Hurt Locker or Avatar are not really justified and warrant serious bets?

  • 9 2-10-2010 at 3:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Personally, I can’t say I’d put money on anything else.

  • 10 2-10-2010 at 3:53 am

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    Thank you for calling me a moron, Angelica.

    Can anyone tell me what the hell was “A Serious Man” about? I love the Coens, but I was very disappointing. The filmaking is impecable, but I just didn’t know what the hell was the movie about. It was even very Jewish for my taste and I live in a Jewish country (the only one there is) with a Jewish boyfriend.

  • 11 2-10-2010 at 6:18 am

    Morgan said...

    What is all the fuss about “Up”? It’s 20-minutes of heartbreaking marriage montage tacked on to a fairly tedious story about a Boy Scout, a giant bird and a talking dog. It isn’t even Pixar’s best effort, much less a Best Picture candidate.

  • 12 2-10-2010 at 6:33 am

    voland said...

    A Serious Man is one of the best movies of all the nominees.

  • 13 2-10-2010 at 7:07 am

    Joe said...

    “A Serious Man” is about how a Jewish man struggles to find meaning in his life. It is an allegory about what we use to find meaning in our own lives – or conclude that life is meaningless.
    “Up” is about how an old man struggles to find meaning in his life after his wife dies. This would have been a perfectly reasonable story; unfortunately, it devolves into a story about how within 10 minutes, one old man finds a silly-but-cute-looking rare bird that another old man has been searching for decades.
    Random senselessness ensues in both films. However, I think it’s purposeful in “A Serious Man”, while it’s just plain senseless in “Up”.

  • 14 2-10-2010 at 7:19 am

    Chris said...

    The real question I have is do voters really passionately love The Hurt Locker? Or is it a case of jealousy towards Avatar and voting against it? Either way ultimately Oscar voters go with what they love and not their head which is why I fully expect either Inglourious Basterds or Up in the Air to be the upset Best Picture winner.

  • 15 2-10-2010 at 7:49 am

    The Dude said...

    “The real question I have is do voters really passionately love The Hurt Locker?”

    Yes, they do, as well as most people that saw it.

  • 16 2-10-2010 at 12:04 pm

    Ali said...

    Personally I did not think a Serious Man was a very good film.