OSCARS 2021

Who votes & how do they vote for the winning movies in the Oscar Awards?

The 93rd annual Academy Awards will be handing out golden Oscar statuettes 25 April, but what’s the process to decide who wins and who decides the winners.

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Who votes & how do they vote for the winning movies in the Oscar Awards?
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The Oscars are never short on controversy with people taking issue with just about every aspect of the annual event. One of the perennial complaints involves which actor or movie wins in each category. So who decides the winners, and how are the winners chosen?

The Oscar nominations are selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Voting for nominations begins in late December, and all votes are tallied by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and then normally announced mid-January. This year the nominations were announced 15 March due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Who are the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

The membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has grown dramatically over the past five years. In 2015 there were 6,261 members eligible to vote, compared with 9,427 as of 16 December 2020 according to Variety.

This has been in reponse to criticism the Academy has received for being an old white man’s club. According to a 2013 survey conducted by The Los Angeles Times, Oscar voters were on average 63 years old. 76% of them were men, and 93% of them were white. Although the academy has been bringing in a more diverse group of members the going is slow.

If a person has feature film credits they could apply to join the AMPAS. They then need to be approved by the branch's executive committee and then finally submitted to the AMPAS board for acceptance into the Academy.

How do they decide the nominations for the Oscars?

Each member belongs to one of 17 branches; Actors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, editors, makeup artists/hairstylists, music, producers, production design, short films/feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

Most categories are nominated by the members of the corresponding branch; actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors, and so on. All members can nominate the Best Picture and other catergories have special rules.

Who decides who wins the Oscar?

All members can vote in the finals in all Oscar categories. With the exception of the Best Picture, voting members get only one vote per category. Because the field for Best Picture is so big, in 2021 there are eight, the AMPAS uses preferential voting. The members put their choices in order of preference and then when PWC tallies the votes, the votes are weighted. Lacking a resounding preference by the voters, the number one choice doesn’t necessarily win if in the event the number two receives an overwhelming vote from the members.

Once the final tally is done only two PWC partners know the results until the envelopes are opened onstage during the Oscars ceremony 25 April.