How Are Academy Awards Voted On?

Held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater each year, the Oscars are a glamorous occasion for movie stars and film creators to strut the red carpet and win awards for their work. The 94th Academy Awards will air from 8-11 p.m. EST on March 27, 2022. So who exactly decides which movies and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences win which awards?

According to the Academy website, members can vote on either paper ballots or submit their decisions online. (They note that most people vote online these days.) Voters belong to one of 24 categories, depending on their job (via Variety). If the member is an actor, they will nominate actors, writers will nominate writers, and so on. Other categories include makeup and hair, music, production, casting, visual effects, and more. The exception is that all members are allowed to pick their choice for the Best Picture nomination. Academy voting isn't necessarily anonymous, but voting is kept secret to ensure fairness, according to Inverse.

How secret votes are counted

The way the votes are tallied is a little convoluted, too. As Inverse reports, until 2009, the Academy used the popular votes to add up the results. But in the 13 years since then, they have switched to an "instant run-off" voting system. So now, votes are counted up, and the film or person with the least number of votes is removed from the pool. Then those films enter another round of voting. That continues until there is a winner. There's a lot of disagreement on which method is fairer.

Not every movie gets voted on in exactly the same way. International feature-length films and animated feature-length films have their own special voting rules (via The Oscars).

As Variety reports, there were 9,427 eligible voting members as of 2020. That's a significant increase from previous years; there were only around 6,200 voters in 2015. Basically, a lot of film professionals are voting for others in their industry, but we won't know for sure who is among these anonymous voters.