# Best Picture Voting Explained: How the Oscars Count the Votes

AMPAS voting has opened, and it's important for members to fill out their ballots fully.

Oscar voting is kicking off, and 366 films are vying for the Academy’s attention for best picture, in addition to their selections in their respective branches. One important note to Academy members: Fill out your ballots in full.

Every Academy member votes for best picture, outside of their respective branch association. For best picture, the member is invited to list up to five films in preferential order. In the days of paper ballots, there were horror stories of voters writing the same film five times on their entries, but those days are gone with electronic voting. However, listing five films is crucially important based on the Academy tabulation methods, which involves a lot of math. As we remain in the final year of the “sliding scale,” where the results can produce any number of nominees between five and 10, simply put, all lines matter.

Depending on how many voters participate this year, a mathematical formula determines what is needed to be a best picture nominee. For the sake of understanding, unless you’re John Nash (played by Russell Crowe in the Oscar-winner “A Beautiful Mind”), we’ll label this the “Best Picture Number,” or “BPN.” PwC oversees the entire process. After all the votes are cast, the BPN is determined by dividing the total number of ballots by 11, which is the number of available nominations plus one. Any film that receives an amount of No. 1 votes that surpasses the BPN is automatically a nominee. Believe it or not, based on how many films are released each year, there aren’t always many movies.

Happy Oscars to all those who celebrate.

This year’s race looks all but locked up for A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” but upsets can happen such as “Moonlight” (2016) over “12 Years a Slave,” but how do such upsets occur?

Variety explains.

To help create a visual, let’s use last year’s crop of 2019 best picture nominees: “1917,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Parasite.”

Without knowing for certain, let’s assume four of the films reached a required 50 BPN — “1917,” “The Irishman,” “Joker” and “Parasite.”