How does the nomination and voting process for the Oscars work?
Regular Oscars are presented for individual or collective achievements in about two dozen categories. Members from each branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories — actors nominate actors, for example, while film editors nominate film editors, each member selecting up to five nominees. For the animated feature film and foreign-language film categories, multi-branch screening committees vote on the nominees.
All 5,755 voting members are eligible to choose their top 10 best picture nominees.
Once the nominations are made, all voting members can cast ballots for winners in all categories, although in five categories — animated short film, live-action short film, documentary feature, documentary short subject and foreign-language film — members must attest that they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.
Most categories have five nominees, but for best picture, which has 10, there's a preferential voting system. For this, voters are asked to rank their best-picture choices from 1 to 10 (though they are not required to complete the ballot in full). Then the ballots are gathered and separated into piles according to voters' first choices. Each movie gets its own pile — the film that appears most frequently as a first-place choice will have the largest stack, the movie with the next-most first-place votes will have the second-largest, and so forth. Then each stack is counted.