How Oscar Awards Nominations Are Selected

It’s Oscar Awards season.

They have submitted a full list of nominees, along with best picture nominees by over 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

They sent in those nominations during the month of December. Members made their selection for which movie and which artists they felt merit being this year’s Oscar winners.

Each voting member belongs to just one of the seventeen branches of the Academy such as actors, casting directors, costumer designers, producers, and many others involved in the magic of the movies.

But who judges the nominations? How are Oscar Awards nominations evaluated?

I will open the curtain on the process for you right now so you’ll be ready for the Academy Awards night. You’ll know when the presenter reads the envelope, announcing, “And the winner is…” exactly what it took to get to that special moment.

Nomination Selection Process

The accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, oversees the ballot counting process at each stage of the nomination selection process.

  1. Academy Member Qualifications. Members of the Academy are chosen or nominated by an existing member or through being an Oscar winner. The Academy board then votes to accept or reject that person’s membership.
  2. Nominee Voting Process. A nominator first votes only within one of the seventeen categories or branches of the Academy they belong to. This means that actors can only vote for best actor awards, directors vote for best directors, writers for best writers, and film editors for best editing, and so forth.
  3. Initial Voting Criteria. Each member rank orders what they think are their five favorite and best movies. This determines the Oscar nominations for the Best Picture.
  4. Voting Submissions. They submit voting ballots using both paper-based and online balloting, with online voting now used by most Academy members.
  5. Nominee Selections. PricewaterhouseCoopers counts all the first choice ballots from the voting members for each film. When the number of nominations passes a certain threshold, this secures a nomination.
  6. Cut Off Number. PricewaterhouseCoopers determines that cut off number by totalling up the number of ballots received for a particular category and dividing it by the total possible nominees, plus one. For example, with Best Actor category they could receive 600 potential ballots. They then divide this number by six (representing five possible nominees plus one). This would make 100 ballots the magic number for becoming an official nominee.
  7. Final Balloting Process. With the nominees now identified, they list all Oscar categories on the final ballot. All Academy members can vote this time across all the categories no matter which branch they are from. They conduct the ballot process online.
  8. Tabulating the Count. They allow each Academy member only one vote for each of the categories listed. However, members are discouraged from voting for any categories they are unfamiliar with or movies they have not seen.
  9. Winning Selection. The winner of each Oscars Award category you see on awards night is the film, the actor, the costume designer, etc., with the most votes. That process reportedly takes PricewaterhouseCooper three days to complete from the ballots submitted by 6,000 plus members.
  10. Winning Nominee Presentation. Each award envelope now states the award category in big, bold letters on the outside to prevent presenter confusion or mistakes.

Recognition Reflection: When would a ballot system be most beneficial for a formal award selection process?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

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