When Ben Affleck announced that "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" had tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild Awards Sunday, he sent a shock wave through Hollywood.
Since then, the members of the PGA and motion picture academy -- each of whom number about 6,000 -- have ranked their respective Best Picture nominees. If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first-place votes, it will be named 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 at this point, 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 on a ballot 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. This year, two films -- "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" -- had the exact same number of ballots which ranked each higher than the other. These were a combination of original number one votes and subsequent reallocations from films that were dropped.
While this may seem mathematically improbable, you can be sure that the accountants repeated the counting process several times when they determined that two pictures were tied for the top award.
Could we have a tie at the Oscars too?
Absolutely. While it has happened with other categories -- which are decided by a popular vote that awards the Oscar to the nominee who tops the most ballots -- there is no reason it couldn't occur in the Best Picture race as well. [Below, relive that moment from 1968 when Ingrid Bergman was left momentarily speechless when she opened the Best Actress envelope and saw two names -- Katharine Hepburn ("The Lion in Winter") and Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl").]
What will win Best Picture at this year's Oscars?
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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.