We now know how many Academy members are eligible to vote for the upcoming Oscars: 7,258.
And because the Academy’s newly-compiled branch count tells us the number of voters, we can also figure out how many votes it’ll take to get a nomination in most of the 24 categories — which ranges from a high of 363 (Best Picture) to a low of 22 (Best Costume Design).
The Academy’s preferential system of counting nomination votes, coupled with rules that limit voting in most categories to the members of the appropriate AMPAS branch, means that you can land a nomination with less than 100 votes everywhere except Best Picture and the four acting categories.
Acting will take 203 votes, Best Picture 363.
Mind you, we’re talking about first-place votes here. Under the Oscars preferential system, a voter typically lists his or her top five choices in order of preference — but the vote only goes to the film ranked first on each ballot, unless that film has already secured a nomination or been eliminated from contention.
In that case, the ballot will count for the voter’s second choice, or for the highest-ranked film on the ballot that’s still in the running.
Nomination voting begins on Friday, January 5, and closes one week later, on January 12. Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 23.
Here’s the breakdown of what it’ll take to land a nomination in each category:
The Academy’s entire voting membership, 7,258, is eligible to cast ballots in this category. If they all do so, that means 660 No. 1 votes will guarantee you a nomination after the initial ballot count.
But to satisfy the unique Best Picture rules that provide anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees, the accountants from PwC then redistribute ballots whose first choice received significantly more than 660 votes, and also ones whose first choice received fewer than 73 votes.
After that redistribution, any film with more than five percent of the vote — which is to say, any film with at least 363 votes — will become a nominee.
There are 512 voters in the Directors Branch, which means that 86 votes will guarantee a nomination.
Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress
With 1,218 voters in by far the Academy’s largest branch, it’ll take 203 votes to get you a Oscars nomination in one of the acting categories.
Best Animated Feature
The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch has 565 members, which would normally mean that 95 votes would guarantee a nomination. But voting in this category is open to all Academy members in and outside the branch, as long as they see “a minimum percentage of submitted eligible films as defined by then-current procedures.” (In recent years, that has meant they’d need to see 17 or 18 of the 26 eligible films in theaters.)
The old method of giving each film a numerical score has been jettisoned; now, members simply vote for their five favorites in order of preference.
The branch has 246 current members. That means 42 first-place votes lands a nomination.
Best Costume Design
With 117 members, costume designers make up the smallest Academy branch that votes for its own award. (The Casting Directors Branch is smaller, but there’s no casting award at the Oscars — the branch’s members can only vote to nominate Best Picture.) So a costume-design nomination can be secured with only 22 votes, fewer than any other category.
Best Documentary Feature
After a first round of voting narrows the field to a 15-film shortlist, the 320 members pick their five favorites. If they all cast ballots, it’ll take 54 votes to be nominated.
Best Documentary Short
The same 320 members of the doc branch are eligible to vote once the doc-short contenders have been narrowed to a 10-film shortlist by special committees. It’s highly unlikely that everyone in the branch will watch the eligible shorts and vote — but if they were to do that, the magic number would again be 54.
Best Film Editing
With 298 members of the Film Editors Branch, you need 50 votes to secure a nod.
Best Foreign-Language Film
We have no idea what the magic number is this year. In fact, nobody does.
That’s because the process used to narrow the field from the nine shortlisted films to the five nominees has changed significantly, and even the Academy doesn’t know how many members will participate. Where in the past the Phase 2 committees in Los Angeles, New York and London were small, hand-picked groups, this year all members in San Francisco, New York and London have been invited to see screenings of the shortlisted films and participate in the vote.
And more importantly, international members who live outside of London can view the nine films on the Academy’s secure members’ website and also vote to nominate in the one Oscars category devoted to films made outside the U.S.
With more than 1,500 international members, the number of participants could be a few dozen or it could be several hundred, with the magic number varying wildly depending on how many people take the time to watch the films.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The fact that the category only has three nominees helps counterbalance the fact that the branch has only 183 members. Voting is restricted to members who attend a special presentation of clips, or members who have seen all seven shortlisted films. If every member of the branch participates in one of those ways, it would take 46 votes to secure a nomination.
Best Original Score, Best Original Song
The Music Branch consists of 305 members, which puts the magic number for a nomination at 51.
Best Production Design
The branch has 308 members, so 52 votes will get you a nomination.
Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
With 487 members in the Sound Branch, the nomination threshold is 82 votes.
Best Visual Effects
There are 450 members of the branch, which would mean a magic number of 75 if the VFX branch calculated nominations the way most of the other branches do. But it doesn’t.
An executive committee first narrows the field down to 20 films, and then to a shortlist of 10. Clips from those films of no more than 10 minutes in length are then screened for members of the branch, followed by brief discussions with the VFX artists responsible for the work.
Members who attend this Oscars “bakeoff” then cast ballots to select the five nominees – but instead of the preferential system, the branch uses reweighted range voting, which uses ranked scores and lessens the impact of ballots from voters whose first choice has already secured a nomination. It’s too complicated to assign a simple “magic number.”
Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay
The Writers Branch has 422 members, meaning it requires 71 votes to guarantee a writing nomination.
Best Animated Short, Best Live-Action Short
The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch has 565 members, all of whom are eligible to score the qualifying films to determine two 10-film shortlists. If they’ve seen all the shortlisted films, they can vote for the final five nominees.
In the unlikely event that the entire branch participates, that would mean a magic number of 95 votes. But in reality, it’s likely far lower.