Motion picture academy expands Best Picture field, alters voting rules

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Director Danny Boyle and actress Rubina Ali (holding two of the Academy Award statues that 'Slumdog Millionaire' won) at the 81st Annual Academy Award.

The organization that runs the Academy Awards plans to use a form of preferential voting to choose the winner in next year’s expanded Best Picture field. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall runs down the process.

In recent years, many Best Picture contenders have been movies most people haven’t seen – while some very popular films, like The Dark Knight, weren’t nominated. To boost fan interest and TV ratings for the annual Oscar broadcast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doubled the number of movies eligible for its top award.

Now it’s changing the voting rules in that category so academy members may rank their favorites from 1 to 10. The movie with the most high-ranking votes will win, in a system that gives added weight to the number two and number three picks.

It’s a form of instant-runoff voting, in which people rank multiple candidates in order of preference. Cities including San Francisco have used this form of voting in some elections for years to eliminate expensive, low-turnout runoffs. Low voter turnout isn’t an issue with the Oscars, where this form of voting will apply only to the 10 Best Picture nominees.

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