How does Oscars voting work? This is how winners are decided

Streaming HUBMarch 12, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The road to the Oscars winds through a long awards season that culminates with Sunday’s Academy Awards. We take you through the process of getting that golden statuette in the hands of a winner – here’s how Oscar voting works:

Who Votes on the Oscars?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has over 10,000 members, divided into 17 branches. All Academy members must be involved in the film business in some form, but membership is not limited to creatives—there are also branches for executives and marketing and public relations professionals.

While nominations are mostly decided by members of the respective branch (e.g. directors are nominated by directors), all voting members may nominate films for Best Picture. Once the nominee is decided, all voting members are eligible to cast their ballot in any category.

In recent years, the Academy has taken steps to diversify its membership, especially after receiving criticism for all-white acting nominees. It adds new members once a year.

When does Oscar voting happen?

Voting takes place over a few days not long before the ceremony – in 2023, voting began on March 2 and ended on March 7, five days before the big night.

How are votes cast?

While the final results can sometimes be controversial, there’s no risk of hanging – voting takes place entirely online.

The tabulation is simple for most categories – the candidate who receives the most votes wins.

Best Picture, on the other hand, employs ranked-choice voting (also known as preferential voting). Voters order the candidates by preference; If a film arrives in the first round with more than 50% of the first place votes, it is the winner. But if none of the films meet that threshold, the fewest first-place votes are discarded—the votes of those who voted that film first will be transferred to their second choice. And this goes on till a film gets majority.

It sounds complicated, we know, but proponents of ranked-choice voting argue that it’s more representative, especially among a larger field of nominees.

Who knows them before the winners are announced?

According to the academy’s website, only two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners know the results in advance. PwC is the accounting firm that tabulated the votes. Each participant with a full set of winners’ envelopes is stationed in a wing of the Dolby Theater during the ceremony. He is accused of handing over the sealed envelope to the winner.

Notoriously, in 2017, a PwC accountant handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, resulting in the “La La Land”/”Moonlight” Best Picture fiasco.


For more coverage of the Academy Awards, visit


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