On the Los Angeles Times website, Tom O'Neil offers a fascinating look at the voting behind the National Society of Film Critics Awards. As I reported in yesterday's post on the group's honorees, it took six ballots for Capote to be chosen as best picture - the details of the voting, however, are fascinating. The first ballot is conducted either in person or by proxy, so the vote of each member, whether they're at the meeting or not (this year's was held in New York, at Sardi's restaurant). After those 55 votes were counted, A History of Violence was in first place, but its lead over Brokeback Mountain was not substantial enough to give it an outright victory. As a result, a second vote was taken, but this time only the 26 critics at the meet were allowed to vote. In round two, those present listed their three favorites (awarding three points to the one at the top of their personal list) of the five films that received the most votes in round one: Violence, Brokeback, 2046, Capote, and The World. Still with me?

After the second round, A History of Violence had taken a substantial lead over Brokeback Mountain, but it still didn't have enough points to win (a winner must have the most points and be listed on the majority of ballots). If no winner has been chosen by the fifth round, the rules stipulate that only the top thee vote-getters - in this case, A History of Violence, 2046, and Capote - compete; after that vote, 2046 had the fewest points and was dropped. So, in round six, the remaining voters simply chose between the works of Bennett Miller and David Cronenberg. As we know, Capote won - but the victory was by a single vote.

O'Neil's article also lists the vote totals (and number of ballot) for the other major categories and is worth a read - it's not often we're allowed a behind-the-scenes look at how the winners of major awards are selected.