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  • This year a grand technicolor film about showbiz is a favorite for best picture at the Oscars.

  • Yes, it was well regarded amongst critics and audiences around the country.

  • But is "La La Land" hands down the best film of the year?

  • Is it good enough to beat out films like "Moonlight" that are widely considered more daring and unique?

  • History says yes.

  • Because the Oscar voting process favors mediocrity.

  • Back in 2009 the the Academy switched from a straight popular vote to instant runoff voting or preferential voting.

  • The Academy wanted to better ensure that the film with the broadest support won.

  • But the other side of that coin is that bold, polarizing films get pushed to the side.

  • At its most basic level, instant runoff voting involves ranking a number of choices rather than choosing just one.

  • Then the choice with the fewest votes is removed.

  • And then those votes for that candidate have their votes counted according to their second-favorite candidate.

  • Then the candidate that now has the fewest votes is removed, and so on.

  • It goes all the way until a candidate has 50 percent plus one of the vote.

  • This applies to both the nominations process - although that does get a little weedy - and the process of selecting a best picture winner.

  • So, how would instant runoff voting ultimately play out in a real-life scenario?

  • Let’s look at 2011 where "The King’s Speech" beat out: "127 Hours," "The Fighter," "Black Swan," "Winter's Bone," "True Grit," "Inception," "Toy Story 3," "The Social Network," and "The Kids are Alright."

  • All these films were probably first-place picks on a lot of ballots and dead last on others.

  • It’s very possible that the passionate fan bases of each of these films all had "The King’s speech" ranked second or third.

  • When their first-place vote wasn’t enough to stay in the game their second-place votes were counted and re-added to the mix, ultimately allowing "The King’s Speech" to come from behind.

  • Because "The King’s Speech" had the broadest support rather than the most passionate support, it took home the prize.

  • The new voting system seems to favor a certain type of film.

  • Weve had instant runoff voting at the Oscars for six years, uh, and fully half of those years have been movies about the movies.

  • And I would count "The King’s Speech" as being sort of adjacent to that.

  • "The King's Speech is about getting training in speech and elocution and all things actors have to go through.

  • Think "Birdman," "Argo," "The Artist."

  • The Academy is made of 6,687 film industry professionals who probably enjoy movies about themselves.

  • They might not rank a film about showbiz as number one, but many might place it second or third, which is precisely where it's most dangerous.

  • In 2005 before instant runoff voting was instituted, "Crash" won best picture.

  • It’s a film people either despise or love.

  • I think we really want those movies that inspire extreme reactions one way or the other.

  • Sometimes the movie wins that you hate, but sometimes the movie wins that you love.

  • I’d rather see that than the movie that everyone was just kind of okay with.

  • In fact, "Crash" beat out a film that might have easily have won in today's instant runoff system: A period film about entertainment directed by Hollywood royalty, George Clooney. "Good Night, And Good Luck."

This year a grand technicolor film about showbiz is a favorite for best picture at the Oscars.

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