The Producers Guild of America Awards have an enviable track record at presaging the eventual Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards. The guild and the academy have agreed on 16 of the most recent 23 Best Picture champs, including the last five in a row. (Read our preview of this year's PGA race here.)
This precursor prize picks a winner using the same kind of counting as the Oscars -- the preferential ballot. While the academy also uses this method to determine nominees in most other races (e.g., acting, directing, writing), the winners of those categories are decided by pure popular vote.
And that popular vote was the way the Best Picture winner was decided at the Oscars from 1946 to 2008. In 2009, when the academy went to 10 Best Picture nominees for the first time since 1943 and the preferential system of voting was reintroduced. The academy believes this "best allows the collective judgment of all voting members to be most accurately represented." The PGA followed suit expanding its field to 10 and using the preferential ballot.
Last year, the academy shifted to a sliding scale of Best Picture nominees that falls somewhere between five and 10, as decided by a complicated system of counting. However, the PGA has stuck with 10 nominees for Best Picture.
Of this year's PGA contenders, eight of them are also in the running for the top Academy Award -- "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty." Rounding out the roster at the PGA are "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Skyfall." The guild snubbed the French-language "Amour," which netted a Best Picture nod from the academy.
The preferential method was first used by the Oscars in 1934 when there were 12 Best Picture nominees (there had been between three and 10 in the first six years of the Academy Awards) and was used the following year when there were again 12 nominees, from 1936 to 1943 when there were 10 nominees, and in both 1944 and 1945 when there were just five contenders.
Voters rank the Best Picture nominees. If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first place votes, it will win Best Picture. If, as is more likely, no nominee reaches this threshold, the film with the fewest first place votes is eliminated, with its ballots being reapportioned to the second place choice.
Should no film cross the required 50% + one ballot threshold, the film with the fewest first place votes is again eliminated, with its ballots being apportioned to the next choice still in play (i.e., if the second place choice is no longer in the running, then the ballot would be reapportioned to the third place choice and so on.)
This process of elimination and reapportion continues until one film reaches at least 50% + one ballots. That is the Best Picture. While passionate support gets a film nominated, it is the consensus choice that prevails as the winner.
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Read more about entry and rules here. Make your initial Oscar predictions now. Change them later as often as you wish up until Oscar Day. Below, meet our past winners of recent award prediction contests.
Oscar Nominations: New York state resident Tim Kressner (gufa54) won $1,000 for reaping the highest percentage (78%) when predicting Academy Award noms. Watch our video chat with him here and learn his strategy for making picks. See the leaderboard here. See Kressner's predix here.
Golden Globes (Film): Mario Gomez, a med studen in Mexico, won our contest with the highest percentage of correct picks (86%) and highest point score (2,693). See our video chat with him here. Two other contestants also scored 86%: lulo1989 and eastwest. Tom O'Neil reaped best Experts' score. David Schnelwar had top score among our Editors. See the leaderboard here to see if you made the top tier.
Critics Choice Nominations: Bryce H scored an impressive 83% when sizing up 20 categories. That was one percentage point ahead of our smartest Editor, Daniel Montgomery. Our top Expert was also one of our Editors, Paul Sheehan, who reaped 74%. To see how you performed, check out our leaderboard plus the score section of your account page.
Golden Globe (Film) Nominations: Jonathan was our top User, reaping a staggering 86% when forecasting the lineup of 10 categories. That put him six percentage points ahead of our best Expert -- Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) -- and eight ahead of our leading Editor, Daniel Montogomery. Did you made the cut on the leaderboard score breakdown?
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Winners: Christian aced all rivals, scoring 82%. That was almost 20 percentage points ahead of our top Expert (Edward Douglas of ComingSoon ) and Editor (Matt Noble), both of whom earned scores of 64%. Christian foresaw that surprise screenplay win for "Before Midnight." See leaderboard.