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Critics' Choice Recount: 10 Oscars Best Picture Nominees?

Oscar contendersFor the first time ever, TheWrap’s recount of Critics’ Choice Awards ballots using the Oscars system produced a full slate of nominees

TheWrap’s annual recount of the Critics’ Choice Awards ballots using the Oscars’ preferential system has produced a real surprise this year: 10 Best Picture nominees.

On the surface that shouldn’t come as a shock, since the Academy’s system is designed to result in anywhere between five and 10 nominees. But in 12 years of use and testing by AMPAS and in four previous years of simulations with Critics’ Choice ballots, it never came up with 10.

Until now.

Before the system was instituted by the Academy in 2011, the Oscars team at PricewaterhouseCoopers went back and recounted eight previous years of voting to test how it would have worked. According to AMPAS, they found years of five, six, seven, eight and nine nominees, but never a year of 10. And in the four years in which it has been used, it has produced nine nominees three times and eight nominees once.

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In fact, some Oscar-watchers were recently tweeting about how it had been mathematically proven that you could never have a year of 10 nominees.

But that’s not true. For the past four years, the Broadcast Film Critics Association has allowed its accountant, Debby Britton of CMM, LLC, to recount the Critics’ Choice Awards best-pic ballots for TheWrap using the Oscar system.

The recount yielded eight nominees every year – until this year, when it suddenly produced a full slate of 10.

That doesn’t mean the Oscars voters will follow suit; the two organizations only matched exactly last year, when the Oscar-style system produced eight Critics’ Choice nominations, and the Academy came up with the same number. The other three years, Critics’ Choice had eight and the Oscars nine.

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But the lesson of this year’s Critics’ Choice voting could conceivably apply to the Oscars as well: A larger-than-usual number of films got votes, but a smaller-than-usual number of them had strong support.

That’s the kind of year it would take to generate the maximum number of nominees, though it’s a given that the 6, 200 Oscar voters may not see the cinema of 2015 in the same way that the 300-odd Critics’ Choice voters do.

But it’s an intriguing scenario, at any rate, and one that may quicken the pulse of a few studios and consultants anxious to claim that 10th slot.

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Here’s how the Critics’ Choice recount broke down. It’ll also serve to illustrate how the Oscar best-pic vote works, which means things are about to get complicated.

The Critics’ Choice voters nominated these 10 films for Best Picture, listed here in order of their total number of nominations:

“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”

(“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was later added to the Critics’ Choice Best Picture roster, but it was not part of the vote that was recounted.)

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