Oscar Votes 123: Birdman Wins Best Picture

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Birdman Wins Best Picture

In the days leading up to Oscars night, there was no runaway front runner for Best Picture that emerged (as reported by FairVote’s blog). With eight deserving nominees to choose from, problems like vote splitting could have been a concern if the Academy was still using a plurality voting system to determine the Best Picture winner. But, thankfully, the multi-winner form of ranked choice voting has been used for this category since 2009. How did this impact results?

Prior to the ceremony, Walt Hickey of fivethirtyeight.com observed “the film that wins Sunday night might not have been everyone’s first choice, but it will have had the most fans across the Academy.” His observation was an apt one, as the results of our OPA Oscars poll declared “Boyhood” the winner and the Academy ultimately chose “Birdman” as the winner, both of which seemed to have the largest bases of support going into Oscars night.

Moreover, “Birdman” gained support even though its box office sales were low, demonstrating that ranked choice voting allows for votes that are based on the general support a movie garners rather than its ticket sales/box office appeal. As the New York Times stated: “Despite relatively meager domestic ticket sales of $37.8 million, ‘Birdman’ had been the favorite to win best picture, having swept the top prize at banquet after banquet leading up to the Oscars.”

Another Oscars season has come and gone, and ranked choice voting once again provided a Best Picture winner that had broad support from voters without compromising the intensity of the race. Visit FairVote’s ranked choice voting page to learn more about its application in political elections.

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