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Oscars by the Numbers

Steve Pond over at The Wrap has done a handy cheat sheet to figure out how many votes per branch in the Academy a film needs to reach the “magic number.” In total, a film only needs about 300 number one votes to be nominated for Best Picture.  Read Pond’s piece, which is very detailed but I’ve boiled down the numbers with the magic number for each in parenthesis:

Best Picture explained:

The entire Academy votes to nominate for this award – including the Executive, Producers and Public Relations branches and Members-at-Large, none of whom nominate in any other categories. That means 6,028 potential voters. In this category, there are two different magic numbers: the one required to clinch a nomination after the first round of counting, which is about 8.9 percent of the ballots cast, and the five-percent threshold that will secure a nomination after the redistribution rounds are complete. If every eligible voter casts a ballot, the first-round number will be 549 votes, while the ultimate number to shoot for is only 301.

The magic number reached is approximate, obviously, since who knows how many will ultimately vote. This is based on the total number in each branch.  Some of the voting procedures are different for each category – more about this in Pond’s piece.

Actors – 1,176 – (max of 197 votes needed to secure a nod)
Sound – 418 (70 is the magic number)
Writers – 378 (63 is the magic number but other writers can vote sometimes so it could be higher)
Directors – 377 (63 votes is the magic number)
Animation - 366 (would be 61, but open to other members if they see 13 animated features)
Visual Effects – 323 (specialized)
Music – 240 (41 is the magic number)
Editing – 230 (39 is the magic number)
Cinematographers – 228 (39 is the magic number)
Documentary – 210 (35 is the magic number)
Makeup & Hairstyle – 135 (specialized)
Costume Designers – 108 (only about 18 votes needed to secure a nod)
Casting – 54 <–no category yet

6 Comments on this Post

  1. Great to know for when I set up the simulation ballot.

  2. Christophe

    Indeeed, multitaskers (Sofia Coppola, James Cameron and many others) get to vote in several categories and not just in their respective branch’s category, and well, we don’t know exactly how many voters actually vote, so only God (and pwc accountants) knows how many votes are needed to reach the magic number.

    Also, the Animated Feature category has its own special rule: voters must see at least 66% of all eligible films and grade them between 6 and 10. To be nominated a film must reach an average grade of 7,5 and be among the 5 best-rated films of course. So NO magic number here!

  3. In total, a film only needs about 300 number one votes to be nominated for Best Picture.

    In total, most of the best films of the year won’t even be seen by 300 members, never mind receive 300 votes, never mind receive 300 number one votes.

    Heck, a lot of them won’t even be seen by 3 members.

  4. Bryce Forestieri

    They should reform this. I’m not advocating something too radical, but a few less actors and a few more directors, writers, cinematographers, editors. Even though the cinematographers have one of the best records of mostly awarding worthy efforts (not perfect though) they still have too many delusions of club exclusivity, seniority, and they’re all pals (i.e., all know each other, loyalty) which sometimes can result in such injustices like the obvious best work of the year being snubbed if it comes from a no-name (see Mihai Mălaimare, Jr.’s work in THE MASTER). Also my theory is that actors in average have more pedestrian taste than YA technician so that’s your argument for a few less actors, but I agree that actors should be the largest branch just not by this much.

  5. Bryce, Malaimare’s snub was probably even worse than Anderson’s snub for screenplay. It’s as bad as Inception missing editing and many other notable snubs. I never thought of the whole “club exclusivity” thing before but I agree with your reform.

  6. If there’s one reform I would make with AMPAS it is this: I have maintained for years and I still maintain that the Public Relations branch of AMPAS should be ELIMINATED altogether.

    I’ve been on this soapbox for years.

    This is the Academy of Motion Picture ARTS and SCIENCES. (D.W. Griffith puzzled: “What art? What science?”)

    There’s nothing artistic about selling a film – that makes AMPAS all about money. And there’s nothing scientific about publicizing a film – figuring out a film’s demographics helps in making the money once the film is distributed, but it says nothing about and does nothing to exemplify a film’s worth in and of itself.

    Sorry . . . but if they are members, then I’m a stickler for the fact that they should belong to one of the branches. The PR and “Members at Large” aspect of AMPAS just cheapens the whole organization, in my view.

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