Voting changes for the Oscar's Best Picture category

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Replicas of Oscars' statues are on display in a shop in front of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California on March 1, 2010. the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony will take place at the Kodak Theater next March 7.

Today is the deadline for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to turn in their Oscar ballots. But this year, things will be a bit different when it comes to the Best Picture category.

For the first time since 1943 (the year "Casablanca" won), there are ten nominated films to choose from, instead of five.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the firm responsible for tallying the votes for the past 76 years. In order to make sure that no film wins with just a slight margin of votes, they're using an instant run-off system. That means each of the 5,777 voting members of the Academy will have to rank each of the ten films from best to... well, least best.

Starting tonight, Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns, partners at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, will meet in a windowless room in a secret location with the completed Oscar ballots. They'll separate the paper ballots into stacks based on the film listed in first place on each one.

The movie with the smallest stack will be eliminated from contention, and its votes will be redistributed among the remaining stacks according to the film listed in second place on each of those ballots. From they're they will keep redistributing votes until one film collects a majority in the stack.

It's a tricky system, but one that makes sure no film will take the Best Picture Oscar with just 11 or 12 percent of the overall vote.

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