Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oscar Math

Just one week after Shaun White, Linsdey Vonn and Evan Lysacek left our living rooms, Hollywood actors arrive in full glamor for a sparkling Oscar Ceremony.

This year, voting rules for the Best Movie have been changed and the results may be full of surprises. It used to be that the Best Movie category had five nominees and every member of the academy chose one. The movie that received the most votes was the winner. Now, you have to sit down just to listen to new rules, as your head may start spinning.
This year there are ten nominees in the Best Movie category. Members of the academy rank nominees in order of preference. Judges sort all the ballots into ten piles based on the first place selection. If one movie gets more than 50% of all first-place votes: it is the winner. If not, then the movie that received the least amount of first-place votes is eliminated. Its ballots are then redistributed into the remaining piles according to the movie that is ranked second on each of these ballots. If those second-place votes are enough to push one of the other nominees over the 50% threshold, the count ends. If not, the smallest of the nine remaining piles is likewise redistributed. Then the smallest of the eight piles, then the smallest of the seven…

Can you devise a scenario when a movie favored least in the old counting system will be the winner this year?

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Kim said...

No, because the least favorite among top vote getters is the first eliminated. Even if a movie got ALL the 2nd place votes, if it comes in last among 1st place votes, it's out.

BUT... you didn't say what happens if there's a tie in 1st place votes -- perhaps there could be two movies that both received a low 1st place vote count, so then perhaps the academy would eliminate the one with the lowest 2nd place vote count.

So let's take this scenario: the 1st place votes are distributed (using last year's scheme) 27/25/20/14/14

Of the two 14s, 1 gets 86 second place vote, the other gets none. We eliminate the one that got none, and distribute its 14 votes to the other movie that got 14 votes. It now has its own 14 plus 14 from the eliminated movie. Next we eliminate the movie that got 20 votes, and give its 20 votes to the movie that originally just had 14. Now it has 14+14+20=48 votes. Finally, we eliminate the movie that got 25 votes, and give all its votes to the movie that had 14 to start, and now it has 73, and it's the winner.

Maria said...

So, the answer is "Yes"
This is brilliant, Kim.
Apparently the new voting system was designed to give more exposure to such underdogs. Well, they also admit that having 10 nominees instead of 5 should increase the number of Oscar ceremony viewers. I am going to watch it, no matter what.
Wondering who is the host this year.

Maria said...

It seems that the new Oscar Math did open a door for the new winner. NYTimes wrote that:
"The Hurt Locker,” independently financed and slow to secure a distributor, had a production budget less than one-tenth that of the nearly $250 million “Avatar,” which has so far earned roughly 50 times as much at the domestic box office. Were it to take the best picture prize, “The Hurt Locker” would be the lowest-grossing winner ever.

“Avatar,” preceded by waves of hype, landed on thousands of screens around the world and started vacuuming up money and attention from its very first day. “The Hurt Locker” started out almost 18 months ago on the festival circuit, generating great excitement among critics and journalists at the Venice and Toronto festivals. When no studio wanted to take a chance on a tough, violent, demanding drama about the Iraq war, Summit Entertainment picked up the movie and released it, to great acclaim but not much business, in the middle of the summer popcorn season.

A great ugly duckling story!
I wonder how the votes were split out, but we may never know...

Anonymous said...

We can be sure the devil invented this scoring system!

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