Ballots are being sent out to all 5,856 voting members of the Academy.

As usual, this time of year, we open up the comments to readers who would like to put out their Christmas Oscar wish.

For example: “Dear Oscar, hear my plea…It’s a long shot at best but if Ava DuVernay is nominated in the original screenplay category she will become the first African American female writer and director to be nominated there. There might not have been a better performance this year than Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. And Richard Gere has never been nominated for an Oscar. A well known character actress named Ann Dowd gave one of the best supporting performances of the year.”

Breakdown of branches after the cut.

This is our breakdown but the numbers are slightly off:

Actors Branch: 1,172 (100,000 in SAG)
Art Directors Branch: 367 (2,006 in ADG)
Cinematographers Branch: 206
Directors Branch: 369 (14,500 in DGA)
Documentary Branch: 166
Executives Branch: 443
Film Editors Branch: 224 (104,000-plus in the Editors Guild)
Makeup Artists & Hairstylists Branch: 121
Music Branch: 232
Producers Branch: 450 (4,700 in the PGA)
Public Relations Branch: 368
Short Films and Feature Animation Branch: 349
Sound Branch: 401
Visual Effects Branch: 294
Writers Branch: 376 (19,354 in WGA West, 3K in WGA east)
At Large: 246
Total: 5,784 voting members

When you see how many actors are in the Academy you understand why the SAG ensemble nod is so all-important to determining Best Picture.  Many believe that if there is a split this year between Picture and Director it will show up at the SAG awards. The Help won there last year, of course, and didn’t win Best Picture.  But getting a nomination there is crucial. Zero Dark Thirty has an obstacle because of it, though it’s not insurmountable.  Nothing ever is. Stats are made to be broken. The stats are about as reliable as polls. Polls can be wrong but usually they are right.

Only 369 ballots in the directors branch – that is a tiny number compared to the 14,500 in the DGA.