Nomination ballots are due on Friday, and this post is written specifically to Academy members, as well as to any grandchildren, maids or significant others who were handed a ballot because your grandparent, employer or significant other is too hip to care about such things.
If you want your ballot to have the most impact on the Oscar race, there are a few things that you should know which Academy President Tom Sherak isn’t going to tell you. He wants you to simply list your favorite films, performances or achievements in order, but you may find that you are more happy with the results if you use a little strategy.
First, remember that you are voting for the nominees at this point, not the winner. There are some competitions where the winner is chosen after a single vote, but the Oscars isn’t one of them: You get two separate votes for nominations and winners, so use each of them strategically. Casting your nomination ballot for the front-runner in the race really isn’t going to have much of an impact, since everyone else will be doing the same. Let’s face it, Harvey Weinstein already has enough votes for The Artist to be a best picture nominee, and George Clooney is going to be nominated for Best Actor regardless of whether he gets 1000 votes or 1001.
You have a much better chance of helping to shape the nominee race by imagining that you are voting for the fourth or fifth spot (in a field of five), or for that fifth through tenth spot (for best picture), and placing that candidate at the top of your ballot. Ask yourself who you would like to see nominated that is also right on the bubble. Put another way, which of your favorites has a decent enough chance that you aren’t the only person voting for them, but also is the most likely to get left out. That’s the person who needs your vote the most.