Best picture Oscar voting changes
The voting system used for the best picture category at the Oscars has changed.
Voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will now have to rank the 10 films up for the category - including James Cameron's Avatar - in order of preference, rather than choose their favourite.
Final Oscar ballots to the 5,777 members went out on Wednesday.
The counting begins after 5pm. March 2, when all ballots are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that has tallied Oscar votes for the past 76 years, will employ an old-school method to determine support for the films in the running.
Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns, partners at PricewaterhouseCoopers, will meet in a windowless room in a secret location with the completed Oscar ballots, and separate the paper ballots into stacks based on the film listed in first place on each one.
The smallest stack will belong to the film with the fewest first-place votes. That movie is then eliminated from contention, and its votes are redistributed among the remaining stacks according to the film listed in second place on each of those ballots.
"It will effectively be an instant-runoff type election where we'll sort through the voters' first preferences, and then we'll be looking to determine which film has a 50 per cent-plus-one vote majority preference," explained Rosas.
Rosas and Oltmanns will keep redistributing votes from films with less support to those with more support until one film collects something like 2,889 ballots (if all 5,777 ballots are completed and returned) - or 50 per cent of the electorate, plus one - in its stack. The nominee that does will be the best picture winner.