Oscars: Pete Hammond’s Absolute Final Predictions In All 24 Categories

Read on: Deadline.

In what has been an ever-changing scenario since the race for the 91st annual Academy Awards began in earnest at the beginning of September with the fall festival trifecta of Venice, Telluride and Toronto, the hunt for Oscar has been as confounding and…

The Key to Winning the Best Picture Oscar: Stitching Together a Compromise

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A version of this story about the Best Picture race first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

“Roma” has won at the Directors Guild, BAFTA and the Critics’ Choice Awards, but Hollywood is full of people who don’t want to see Netflix win the Best Picture Oscar.

“Green Book” won at the Golden Globes and at the all-important Producers Guild Awards, but some voters think it’s too old fashioned and have trouble with past scandals (or tempests in teapots, depending on your point of view) involving its director and co-writer.

“BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “The Favourite,” “Vice,” “A Star Is Born,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” – they’re all embraced in some circles, but they’re also divisive movies that have strong detractors.

Also Read: Oscar Voting Begins: Why You Can’t Game the Best Picture Ballot System and 4 More Myths Exploded

And in that climate, we’re not into the final voting period in a Best Picture race that will depend on one movie becoming the compromise candidate, stitching together a consensus in a time that’s more about division than unity.

This year’s Oscar race, after all, has been rife with mudslinging, outrage-stoking, Twitter-mining and the like. So it came as no surprise that the nominations revealed an Academy electorate as deeply divided as that other electorate that exists outside the showbiz bubble.

For one thing, the eight Best Picture nominees include three films that have grossed more than $200 million in the U.S., something that has only happened once before — and the average gross of this year’s nominees at the time of nomination was more than $180 million, the highest total in the history of the category.

(This average doesn’t include “Roma,” since Netflix doesn’t report grosses — but even if you grant it a minimal gross and then recalculate, the average stays comfortably ahead of the previous high, 2009’s $151 million.)

Also Read: Academy Sparks Outrage for Dumping 4 Oscar Categories to Commercial Breaks: ‘I Am So Pissed Off’

This, it seems, is the year when the Oscars didn’t need that popular award after all, the year when blockbuster movies like “Black Panther,” “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” were nominated without any help from a dodgy new category that was announced and then quickly (and permanently, one can hope) tabled.

But it’s also the year when the two films with the most Oscar nominations, “Roma” and “The Favourite,” are the two lowest-grossing nominees–one a black-and-white Spanish-language film, the other a new provocation from the twisted Greek auteur responsible for “Dogtooth” and “The Lobster.” (Yes, “The Favourite” is prettier and less surreal, but no less weird and acidic at its core.)

Meanwhile, voters have embraced both Spike Lee’s incendiary “BlacKkKlansman” and Peter Farrelly’s conciliatory “Green Book,” two films about racial tensions that couldn’t be more dissimilar. They’ve gone for big American studio hits, from the one that’s beloved by critics (“Black Panther”) to the one that’s hated by critics (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), but they’ve also sprinkled more foreign-language films throughout the nominations than at any time in the last decade.

It’s hardly surprising that the nominations stubbornly resist pigeonholing and cover such a huge range, particularly since the Academy has added more than 1,600 members, many of them international film professionals, over the last three years.

Also Read: Richard E. Grant is Unapologetically Ecstatic Over His Oscar Nomination (Video)

But here’s the tricky thing: The preferential (or ranked-choice) system of counting final ballots in the Best Picture category is designed to find a consensus favorite, not simply identify the film with the most No. 1 votes. Members rank the nominees in order of preference, and the ballots of the film with the fewest votes are redistributed to each voter’s No. 2 choice. This goes on round after round, with votes sliding further down the ballots, until one film ends up with more than 50 percent of the vote.

The key to this year’s muddy Best Picture race is that in this time of division and acrimony, one of the nominees will somehow stitch together a compromise, forging a consensus between “BlacKkKlansman” fans and “Green Book” devotees, between “Roma” people and “Bohemian Rhapsody” people, between those who love the vices on display in “The Favourite” and those who love the vices on display in “Vice.”

This year, perhaps, that’ll be more important than who won the major guild awards, which have gone to three different films for only the fifth time in the last 20 years.

In a year in which people in and out of Hollywood have little interest in compromising, one of these films is going to be the compromise candidate. We don’t know which one, and I can’t see how, but it’s going to happen.

To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire Oscar issue, click here.

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The Road To Oscar: How Each 2018 Best Picture Nominee Got Here

Read on: Deadline.

There can only be one winner, but each of the Best Picture nominees overcame creative, financial and logistical hurdles to get this close to the finish line. Here are their war stories.
Black Panther
Fifty years ago, the phrase ‘Black Panther’ carried …

Is ‘Black Panther’ About Survivor’s Remorse? (Podcast)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

What if Eric Killmonger isn’t only a supervillain, but also a victim of undiagnosed trauma, abandoned by the rest of his family? That take on “Black Panther” is at the heart of our latest “Low Key” podcast, which you can listen to on Apple or right here:

On each episode of “Low Key,” Keith Dennie, Aaron Lanton and I discuss pop cultural issues we think have been overlooked. This week, Keith and Aaron talk about subtleties of the Best Picture contender that white viewers may have missed — including how Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) represents black men left behind.

We start out the episode wondering whether we should take the Best Picture Oscar nomination for “Black Panther” at face value: Are Oscar voters making up for past snubs of superhero films, like “Dark Knight”? Or making an effort at recognizing more diverse films?

Could it be that Oscar voters simply love “Black Panther” as much as we do?

With nearly a year of hindsight, we also talk the true meaning of “Black Panther.” The key figure may not be Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), but rather his antagonist, Killmonger. Does Killmonger symbolize radical revolutionaries, as it might appear at first glance?

Also Read: Move Over, Fyre Festival: Woodstock ’99 Was Even Worse (Podcast)

“He’s more than just a revolutionary. He’s somebody’s that’s suffering from post-traumatic syndrome,” Keith says.

(He may be too good a character to leave behind: an ET segment this week fueled hopes that Killmonger might return for “Black Panther 2.”)

“Black Panther” begins in 1992, when Wakanda’s king, T’Chaka, who fights for Wakanda in the guise of Black Panther, confronts his brother N’Jobu. N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) has stolen from the kingdom, in order to fight for revolution abroad. While T’Chaka (John Kani) attempts to bring his brother home, things go awry, and T’Chaka, to his own horror, kills N’Jobu.

N’Jobu’s death leaves his son, Eric, to grow up abandoned in Oakland, California. He trains to become an accomplished killer. When T’Chaka dies and his son, T’Challa, becomes king of Wakanda, Killmonger strikes, seeking the revenge he has plotted for decades.

Aaron explains on “Low Key” that Eric can be taken to represent other black people who feel abandoned.

“When you’re watching it, and you are a black person in the middle class, I can’t even explain to you the kind of survivor’s guilt you’re feeling,” Aaron says. “You feel like you’re Wakanda. … If you are of the second-generation of people who started going to college — for a lot of us you’re the first generation of people going to college — Killmonger, in some ways, represents what you’re afraid could happen to the people who have not had the opportunities you’ve had — who you know.”

It’s a thought-provoking conversation. I learned a lot, and appreciated “Black Panther” more than I did when we started. If you like the episode, please tell someone, give us five stars on Apple, or do whatever you can do.

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Oscars’ Best Picture Category Needs Fixing – Here’s an Easy Way to Do It

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A  version of this story first appeared in the Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue of TheWrap’s Oscars magazine.

Will this be a thin year in the Best Picture race? In some ways, it looks as if it might. We know the usual suspects– “Roma” and “A Star Is Born,” “Green Book” and “First Man” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Black Panther” and “BlacKkKlansman,” “The Favourite” and a few others — but there’s precious little on that list that doesn’t have some kind of vulnerability, and even less off that list that seems positioned to grab a spot.

And yet I keep thinking of a different kind of Oscars race, one in which Pawel Pawlikowski’s luminous “Cold War” has a real chance, along with the Coen brothers’ brilliantly dark and wickedly funny “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and Paul Greengrass’ harrowing but triumphant “22 July,” and Jason Reitman’s smart and dense “The Front Runner.”

Why couldn’t “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” get into the Best Picture race the way animated predecessors like “Up” and “Toy Story 3” did? And if Morgan Neville’s loving Mr. Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” prompted more tears than just about any other 2018 film, if Bing Liu’s wrenching “Minding the Gap” would win the L.A. Film Critics’ award for editing, why shouldn’t they be real contenders outside the doc category as well?

Also Read: Golden Globes Shatters Diversity Record: 4 of 10 Best Picture Nominees Have Non-White Directors

You probably have your own list of films that ought to be in the running — but if you’re a voter, you probably won’t write them down on your ballot for fear that you’ll be wasting your vote. (A few of the films I mentioned were on my Critics’ Choice Awards ballot — and if I was throwing my votes away, so be it.)

But it wasn’t too long ago — 2010, in fact — when Oscars voters might have felt comfortable adding long shots to their Best Picture ballot, and maybe even helping one or two of them get nominated.

That’s because in 2009 and 2010, the Academy had a Best Picture category that included a flat 10 films, and a Best Picture ballot that included 10 lines on which voters could list their choices. Sure, the preferential system of vote counting in the nomination round meant that lower choices seldom came into play — but the lines were there, and I have to think that it encouraged Academy voters to think expansively, not narrowly.

Those two years saw a pair of Pixar films land Best Picture nominations, along with dark horses like “District 9” and “Winter’s Bone” and “A Serious Man.” And then the Academy decided to tinker with the process so as not to dilute the value of a Best Picture nomination, instituting a system that produced a variable number of nominations — nine nominees five times, eight nominees twice.

And crucially, with that change came a shrinking of the ballot, as Academy members went back to having five slots to fill on their ballots, not 10. Maybe the change didn’t alter what was nominated too dramatically, but it necessarily narrowed voters’ focus. And to what end? To keep out “The Florida Project” or “Carol” or “Straight Outta Compton”?

Also Read: Golden Globes: Marvel Scores First Best Picture Drama Nod for ‘Black Panther’

As the Academy now toys with the idea of introducing an Oscar devoted just to “popular” films and as it invites a record number of new members each year, it’s time to recognize that inclusion in the Best Picture category is not a bad thing. If five nominees isn’t enough, there is no longer any real justification for not going to 10 — and that means there’s no justification for not giving voters a full 10 slots on their ballots, whether they want to fill them all or not.

Obviously, the Board of Governors isn’t going to vote to change the rules in time for this year’s Oscars. But in the aftermath of the this year’s show, when the board sits down to consider rule changes for next year and beyond, it’s worth recognizing that the suspense that was supposed to be generated by not knowing whether there will be eight or nine nominees is pretty much nonexistent, and brings with it a real downside.

Enough with the silliness of variable nominees, AMPAS. You’ve done it for seven years, it hasn’t saved the Academy from big embarrassments and its very existence narrows the thinking of people who ought to be embracing all that filmmakers have to offer.

Give voters a reason and a way to think beyond the usual suspects, please.

To read more from TheWrap’s Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue, click here.

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Marvel Focuses on a ‘Black Panther’ Best Picture Oscar Nod, Despite New Popular Film Category

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Looking to nab a Best Picture nomination for “Black Panther,” Disney has hired veteran Oscar strategist Cynthia Swartz to oversee the campaign, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Disney and its superhero phenomenon “Black Panther” have been at the heart of much of the conversation surrounding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ addition of a “popular film” category.

Views on the film’s awards potential went from: maybe it could be a best picture nominee, to concern it would be shoehorned into a popular film category created to boost the telecast’s sagging ratings by including more commercial hits.

But Marvel Studios still has its eyes set on best picture.

Also Read: ‘Black Panther’ Becomes 3rd Film Ever to Hit $700 Million at Domestic Box Office

“Black Panther,” which opened in February and has since grossed $1.3 billion worldwide, won plaudits from audiences and film critics alike, and has sparked academic conversations about race, the lasting ripple effects of slavery and border politics.

In an attempt to boost sagging ratings for the Oscars, the Academy has taken dramatic and likely controversial steps to overhaul the annual awards ceremony. Among the steps, the creation of a category designed to salute “outstanding achievement in popular film.”

The new category comes with a risk. If it is seen as a second Best Picture category for movies that people have actually seen, it could dilute the prestige of the real Best Picture category, and hurt the credibility of the Academy.

Also Read: OscarsSoPopular: Why Risky Academy Makeover Could Lead to Confusion – and Revolt

Before the academy decided to shake up the awards ceremony and add the popular film category, many people in Hollywood thought “Black Panther” stood a good chance to become the first superhero film nominated for best picture.

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” earned eight nominations back in 2009, and ended up winning two Oscars. But the film’s omission in the best picture category caused an uproar among fans, and is widely considered the reason the academy expanded the best picture category to as many 10 films from the traditional five nominees.

The idea was that this could open the door for more blockbuster movies, though, that hasn’t really been the case.

Also Read: John Bailey Wins Second Term as Academy President

One Oscar consultant told The Times: “Right now, I think [academy Chief Executive] Dawn Hudson would crawl in a hole if ‘Black Panther’ gets snubbed for best picture and winds up landing in the popular film category. The funny thing is that Dawn would be way more disappointed than anyone at Marvel.”

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How Denzel Washington Saved the 2017 Oscars (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The 2017 Oscars already exist in infamy for their “Moonlight”-“La La Land” Best Picture snafu, but the awards show was rescued from ending on an even more awkward note by an unlikely hero: Denzel Washington.

Washington guested on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday, when the ABC late-night talk show host publicly thanked “The Equalizer 2” star for saving his butt.

“I was confused, as was everyone — except for you,” Jimmy Kimmel recalled that fateful night, his first effort as Academy Awards emcee. “I didn’t know what exactly to do, and I looked out in the audience and you were looking at me and you… point at Barry Jenkins, the director of ‘Moonlight,’ and you go, ‘Bring him to the mic.’”

Also Read: Kimmel: Trump Picked Kavanaugh Because He’s ‘the White Man for the Job’

“And I was like, ‘Uh, yeah, OK’ and then I went and got Barry,” the comedian continued. “You saved me and the Oscars.”

“I didn’t win an Oscar, I just saved the Oscars,” Washington countered.

Chill, Denzel, you’ve got two of those awards.

Also Read: ‘The Iceman Cometh’ Broadway Review: Denzel Washington Is on a Mission

Watch their conversation on the video above.

Back then, an envelope mishap led presenter Warren Beatty to call up Lionsgate musical “La La Land” for the 2017 awards show’s top honor — which actually belonged to A24 picture “Moonlight.

Washington’s new movie “The Equalizer 2” hits theaters on Friday, July 20.

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A movie has a hell of a journey on its way to being named Best Picture

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Every year, the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards inspires passionate debate among film fans. Which movie is overrated? Which movie do the critics seem to love? Which one did you actually see and therefore deserves to win? But, as a new video from Vanity Fair explains, before any of these films can even get…

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The Advantages and Challenges of the Oscar Best Picture Line-Up

Read on: Variety.

When the best picture nominees were announced, there were surprises on both sides. Some are disappointed that players such as “The Big Sick” and “The Florida Project” did not make the list, while others were thrilled that bubble films including “Darkest Hour” and “The Post” did. We take a look at the final nine nominees […]

CNN Inherits Oscars’ Best Picture Snafu Burden

Read on: Deadline.

CNN fell victim to Oscars Best Picture Snafu curse Tuesday morning when 2018 nominees were unveiled , incorrectly listing on-air more than one movie not actually nominated in that prestige category.
The Actual List of Oscar noms for Best Picture, announced Tuesday morning, are:
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Just after noms were announced in many categories…

Jimmy Kimmel Seeks Therapy For Best-Picture Trauma In New Oscar Promo

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“I dream about it every night,” Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel tells his “therapist” about last year’s Academy Awards Best Picture snafu.
“I’ve tried to get passed it…I think I’m losing my mind. And the worst part is, they want me to do it again! Kimmel says in the new promo for the upcoming Oscars ceremony, released just after noms were announced Tuesday morning.
Making his Oscar-hosting debut last year at the 89th Academy Awards, the seamless show was marred by a monstrous…

Why Oscars Could Produce Only 7 Best Picture Nominees This Year

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Could this be the year with the fewest Oscars Best Picture nominations since the Academy went to a variable number of nominees in 2011?

With a system designed to create anywhere between five and 10 nominees, there’s no way to tell until Academy members vote and the ballots are tallied.

But TheWrap’s annual Oscars-style recount of the Critics’ Choice Awards ballots came up with an intriguing result this year: If the Academy’s preferential-style counting had been used on the Critics’ Choice best-picture ballots, it only would have produced seven nominees.

That’s fewer than the Oscars system has ever produced in the up-to-10 era, and fewer than we’ve ever come up with in six years of supervising an Oscar-style recount of the Critics’ Choice ballots.

Also Read: ‘The Shape of Water’ Dominates Critics’ Choice Nominations

While the Critics’ Choice Awards are one of the more accurate Oscar predictors, the recounts that we’ve undertaken since 2011 seldom agree exactly with the Academy’s results: The first three years, for instance, the CCA recount produced eight nominees while the Academy nominated nine. The two matched exactly in 2014 with eight, but in 2015 the Critics’ Choice recount produced a full 10 nominees, while Oscar voters only came up with eight.

So history suggests that we’ll have eight or nine Oscar nominees again this year — but in a year in which a large number of films have only a shallow amount of support, as they did with the members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association who vote for the Critics’ Choice Awards, it’s possible to depress the number of nominees.

Here’s how the Critics’ Choice recount broke down, as performed by BFCA accountant Debby Britton from CMM, LLP under instructions provided by TheWrap. It’ll also serve to illustrate how the Oscar Best Picture vote works. (Sorry, things will get complicated now.)

For informational purposes, the Critics’ Choice actual voting system gives nominations to the top 10 vote-getters, which are listed here in order of their total number of nominations:

Fourteen nominations: “The Shape of Water”
Eight nominations: “Call Me by Your Name,” “Dunkirk,” “Lady Bird,” “The Post”
Six nominations: “The Big Sick,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Five nominations: “Get Out”
Four nominations: “Darkest Hour”
Three nominations: “The Florida Project”

Also Read: SAG Awards: The Complete List of Nominees

STEP 1: The Initial Count
The BFCA consists of 332 writers and critics for radio, television and internet outlets. (TheWrap’s Steve Pond and Matt Donnelly are both members.) All are eligible to vote for the Critics’ Choice Awards.

An Oscars-style count begins by counting the total number of ballots cast and finding the “magic number” required to guarantee a nomination. That is done by dividing the total number of ballots by 11 (the number of available nominations, plus one). Example: If 300 critics voted, the number would be 27.3. If the result is a whole number, you add 1; if it’s a decimal, you go up to the next highest whole number, in this hypothetical case, 28.

(The reason that’s the magic number is that 28 votes guarantees you’ll finish in the top 10, because it’s impossible for 11 films to each have that many votes if only 300 ballots are cast. In Oscar voting, the magic number for Best Picture will be closer to 600.)

On the ballot, BFCA voters were asked to rank their top five films in order of preference — but at this stage of the count, we’re only concerned with No. 1 choices. Any film that is not the first choice of at least one voter is eliminated from contention, regardless of how many No. 2 or No. 3 votes it receives.

According to Britton, 38 of this year’s films received first-place votes and remained in the running. That’s the same number as when we last did this recount two years ago, but 10 more than received first-place votes the previous year, and the most that have ever done so during the six years we’ve conducted this recount.

Any film with more than the magic number of first-place votes becomes an automatic nominee. Four films did so this year, a relatively large number to make the cut so quickly. (HFPA leadership would not allow Britton to reveal which films made the cut in each round.)

Also Read: Golden Globes 2018: The Complete List of Nominees

STEP 2: The Surplus Rule
The next step starts by determining whether any films received enough votes to trigger an Academy wrinkle called the surplus rule. This was created so voters wouldn’t be wasting their vote if they put a massively popular film at the top of their ballot. If any film that gets 10 percent more votes than it needs, vote-counters reallocate the unneeded portion of each vote to the film ranked second on the ballot.

For instance: If “The Shape of Water” needed 28 votes to be nominated but it got 56, it really only required 50 percent of each of its votes to secure a slot. So on every ballot that included that film in the top spot, 50 percent of the vote would be shifted to the film ranked second on that ballot. If it got 20 percent more votes than it needed, then that 20 percent would be shifted to the No. 2 choice on each “Shape of Water” ballot.

If the No. 2 choice was no longer in the running because the film didn’t get any No. 1 votes and was already eliminated, or conversely because it had already secured a nomination, the accountants would go to the ballot’s highest-ranked film still in play.

This year, Britton said, two of the four films that clinched a first-round nomination also went into surplus. And once the surplus votes were reallocated, two more films passed the magic number to bring the total number of nominees to six.

STEP 3: Redistribution
At this point, any film picked No. 1 on fewer than 1 percent of the ballots is eliminated. (That probably means any movie with only one or two first-place votes, depending on how many BFCA members cast ballots.)

Of the 32 films still in play after the first four films secured nominations, Britton said that 20 fell below this 1 percent line. That’s an extremely large number of films to be eliminated at this stage. In past Critics’ Choice recounts, about half of the remaining films were typically knocked out of contention at this point, but this year almost two-thirds were — indicating that while a large number of movies got votes, their support was thin.

Ballots for those 20 films were then reallocated, with their full votes going to each critic’s No. 2 choice. Again, if that second choice had already been eliminated or had already secured a nomination, the vote would have gone to the highest-ranked film still in the running. If none of the 12 films remaining in contention were listed on the voter’s ballot, that ballot was discarded.

Also Read: Golden Globes Nominees Reactions: 32 of Hollywood’s Most ‘Honored,’ ‘Grateful’ and ‘Thrilled’ (Updating)

STEP 4: The 5 Percent Rule
Once the less-than-1-percent ballots were reallocated, every film that had more than 5 percent of the vote became a Best Picture nominee. Every film with less than that did not. (In our hypothetical example with 300 voters, 15 first-place votes would be enough to secure a nomination.)

When Britton ran those numbers, only one of the 12 remaining films crossed the 5 percent threshold. The remaining 11 films fell between 1 percent and 5 percent, and were not nominated.

This stage marked the biggest difference from previous years, in which between two and six films always secured nominations in this final count. This year, though, support remained shallow enough that a full 82 percent of the films that got first-place votes didn’t end up with enough votes to be nominated. (During the five previous recounts, that number was between 71 percent and 76 percent.)

Also Read: Academy Adds 571 New Oscars Voters, Tops the 7,000 Mark

Given the disparity between the critics and Oscars results over the years, there’s no certainty that the same thing will happen when the Academy votes. But in a year with lots of contenders but few dominant films it’s possible that the crucial redistribution rounds may have less impact, reducing the opportunities for films to secure nominations if they don’t get them right away.

We’ll know if Oscar voters will go a similar route when nominations are announced on January 23. Before that, on January 11, the Critic’ Choice Awards winners will be announced during a ceremony that will be broadcast live from Barker Hangar in Santa Monica on the CW.

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Oscars: 341 Films Eligible For Best Picture Race

Read on: Deadline.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said today that 341 feature films are eligible in its wide-open Best Picture Oscar race.
To be in the running for consideration, features must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days. Films must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying…