That’s it. It’s done.
Oscar voting officially closed today at 5:00pm Pacific. Now begins the vote tabulation process, by which the representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers will determine the recipients of those iconic Oscar statuettes. Twenty-three of the 24 categories will be determined simply enough – the nominee who receives the most votes wins.
As we all know – and feverishly discuss, this year in even greater depth than most – Best Picture is the one category that will not be determined by popular vote, instead through however many rounds of preferential vote-counting it takes for one of the eight nominated films to garner a “number one vote” on 50% +1 of the ballots cast. Even as familiar as it is to me now, it’s still quite a mouthful (or paragraph full) to explain.
But regardless of the variable complexity of the vote-counting process, we are now at that stage when the campaign, such as we’ve been religiously following it for the past six (6!) months, is over. Everything else is behind-the-scenes at this point. The votes are counted, the envelopes are stuffed, the winning names are engraved on the statuettes, and the answers are placed in a briefcase that is handcuffed to some poor bastard’s wrist and sequestered until the start of the ceremony.
Okay, that last part was greatly exaggerated.
But you get the point. From here on out, there isn’t much new to add to the conversation. Sure, there are a few stray “precursors” still to be doled out – the Costume Designers Guild announces winners tonight, the Motion Picture Sound Editors hand out the Golden Reel Awards on Saturday, and of course the Spirit Awards go down on the same day, with booze flowing – but nothing can now be viewed as any sort of influencer over the Academy vote.
And really, it’s not as though we have much substantial to go on, anyway. The Best Picture race is a stalemate, the most evenly split and therefore impossible to nail down in recent memory. A recent influx of wins for The Revenant would seem to tip the smart money in its direction, but even if the film does walk away with a Best Picture win, it won’t be something that was clearly written in the stars by the Award Prognostication Gods. Nothing, in fact, has been spelled out for us this season, even though the race seemed to tip in three different directions from one point to the next – starting with Spotlight out of the festival gate, then shifting to The Big Short after its PGA win, and now many have settled on Revenant, and since it is the most recently dubbed “frontrunner,” that may have indeed swayed some last-minute ballots and delivered Best Picture for Alejandro G. Inarritu’s film.
Yet, even though you’ll likely see the vast majority of pundit predictions lean toward a Revenant win – as smart a bet as any other – no one can be sure of anything. If any of the “Big Three” guilds had gone in a different direction, we’d have much more clarity. Had The Big Short won Best Cast at SAG in addition to its PGA win, it would be treated as a foregone conclusion for a Best Picture win. Same rule applies if Spotlight had taken PGA in addition to its SAG win. Had The Revenant claimed PGA in addition to DGA, that would’ve been the most damning evidence of all. But none of those things happened. And so here we are, as clueless as we’ve ever been five days away from the Oscar ceremony.
At this point, we are essentially treading water. We can parse vague stats in an attempt to explain our Best Picture prediction logic. We can ponder the possibilities of The Big Short claiming Best Editing over Mad Max, or Winslet beating out Vikander in Supporting Actress, or even a George Miller upset in Best Director. But that’s all it would be – pondering.
Five more days to ponder. Over-ponder. And then, on Sunday, the least inevitable results in modern Oscar history.