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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 31, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Ranking the Best Picture nominees

This weekend’s issue of Entertainment Weekly had a useful article about how the Academy calculates its votes (a somewhat chattier online version of the story is here). It’s all a little more math than I like to handle before the cocktail hour (or after, for that matter), but do read it if you’re interested in how the preferential voting system works. In a nutshell: Oscar voters get 10 slots in which to rank the 10 best picture nominees; they can leave some titles out but that decreases the impact of the ballot. When the ballots are tabulated, all of the movies getting at least one #1 vote advance to the next level, and then — well, read the article, as there’s a lot of stuff about magic numbers and weird half-percentage points, and today’s Diet Coke intake is just not up to it.
Anyway, this got me thinking how I might rank the 10 nominees (all of which I’ve seen, some more than once), if I were an Oscar voter. I’m not generally a fan of ranking movies — my annual top 10 list is always alphabetical, rather than numerical — but let’s give this a try, just for kicks. Here’s how I’d mark my ballot, at least today.
1. The King’s Speech
2. Inception
3. 127 Hours
4. Winter’s Bone
5. The Social Network
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. Black Swan
8. True Grit
9. The Fighter
10. Toy Story 3
All of these are very good movies, so if you see your favorite near the bottom, note that I’m not saying that it’s bad. But this is how I’d preferentially rank them, using the very vague criteria of “which of these movies made the biggest impact on me” — which ones transported me into their worlds, if you will, without distracting me with flaws. Again, I like all of these movies, so it’s a tricky exercise to rank them. If you’ve seen all ten, what would your Oscar ballot look like?

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