How does the Oscar voting work? This is how the winners are determined

LOS ANGELES — The road to an Oscar winds through a long awards season, culminating in Sunday’s Academy Awards. We’ll walk you through the process of getting this golden statuette into a winner’s hand – here’s how Oscar voting works:

Who votes on the Oscars?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has more than 10,000 members divided into 17 branches. All academy members must be involved in the film business in some way, but membership isn’t limited to creatives — there are branches for executives and marketing and PR professionals as well.

While members of the respective division usually decide on the nominations (directors nominate directors, for example), all voting members can nominate films for the best film. Once the nominees are determined, all voting members are entitled to cast their votes in each category.

In recent years, the academy has taken steps to diversify its membership, particularly after receiving criticism for a spate of all-white acting nominees. New members join once a year.


Voting occurs on a few days not too long before the ceremony — in 2023, voting opened on March 2nd and ended on March 7th, five days before the big night.


While the final results can be controversial at times, there’s no danger of hanging Chads – the voting takes place entirely online.

Most categories are easy to set up – the candidate with the most votes wins.

The best picture, on the other hand, uses a ranked vote (also known as a preferential vote). Voters rank the nominees by preference; If a film receives more than 50% of the first place votes in the first round, it is the winner. But if no film reaches that threshold, the one with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated — the votes of the people who ranked that film first roll over to their second choice. And so it goes on until some film wins the majority.

It sounds complicated, we know, but proponents of ranked voting argue that it’s more representative, especially in a large field of nominees.


According to the Academy website, only two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners know the results in advance. PwC is the accounting firm that tabulates the votes. Each partner will be stationed in the wings of the Dolby Theater during the ceremony with a complete set of winner’s envelopes. You will be instructed to deliver the sealed envelope to the winner.

In 2017, a PwC accountant gave Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope, leading to the La La Land/Moonlight best picture fiasco.


For more information on the Academy Awards, visit

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