How Many Votes Does It Take to Get an Oscar Nomination in 2019?

With 7,902 members now eligible to vote, the magic number to secure an Oscar nomination can range from 396 to 26, depending on the category

There are currently 7,902 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are eligible to vote for the Oscars.

That number is according to a branch count prepared by the Academy for the 2018 voting season, which began on Monday with the opening of nomination voting. It marks an increase of 644 potential voters over last year, when a record 928 potential members were invited to join.

(The number of voters didn’t increase by 928 because some members died over the course of the year, not every potential member accepted the Academy invitation and some were admitted into the non-voting Associate Members category.)

And now that we know the number of voters, we can determine how many votes it takes to secure a nomination in the 24 Oscars categories. The number ranges from a high of 396 for Best Picture to a low of 26 for Best Costume Design.

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 because of a lack of support.

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 began on Monday, January 7, and closes one week later, on January 14. Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22.

Here’s the breakdown of what it’ll take to land a nomination in each category:

Best Picture
The Academy’s entire voting membership, 7,902, is eligible to cast ballots in this category. If they all do so, that means 719 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 719 votes, and also ones whose first choice received fewer than 79 votes.

After that redistribution, any film with more than 5 percent of the vote — which is to say, any film with at least 396 votes — will become a nominee.

Best Director
There are 519 voters in the Directors Branch, which means that 87 votes will guarantee a nomination.

Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress
With 1,305 voters in by far the Academy’s largest branch, it’ll take 218 votes to get you a Oscars nomination in one of the acting categories.

Best Animated Feature
The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch has 659 members, a 94-member jump that is the largest increase of any branch. Normally mean that 110 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.” This year, that meant they needed to see 13 of the 25 eligible films, eight of them specifically assigned — though unlike in past years, they did not need to see the films in theaters. The number required to land a nomination depends entirely on how many members participate in that process.

Best Cinematography
The branch has 264 current members. That means 44 first-place votes secures a nomination.

Best Costume Design
With 153 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 26 votes, fewer than any other category.

Best Documentary Feature
After a first round of voting narrows the field to a 15-film shortlist, the 400 documentary branch members pick their five favorites. If they all cast ballots, it’ll take 67 votes to be nominated.

Best Documentary Short
The same 400 members of the doc branch are eligible to vote once the doc-short contenders have been narrowed to a 10-film short list 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 67.

Best Film Editing
With 323 members of the Film Editors Branch, you need 54 votes to secure a nod.

Best Foreign-Language Film
This category is also open to volunteer members from all branches of the Academy, and it’s impossible to determine how many will participate. The first round of voting, which produced six of the nine films on the short list, was open to members in the Los Angeles area and is typically thought to include a few hundred voters.

But the second round — once the province of small, carefully chosen committees — is now open to any member who can attend screenings in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or London, and to international members who can watch the shortlisted films on the Academy’s members website. The magic number will depend entirely on how many participate.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The fact that the category only has three nominees helps counterbalance the fact that the branch has only 189 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 48 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 56.

Best Production Design
The branch has 322 members, so 54 votes will get you a nomination.

Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
With 487 members in the Sound Branch, the nomination threshold is 85 votes.

Best Visual Effects
There are 497 members of the branch, which would mean a magic number of 83 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 short list of 10. Clips from those films of no more than 10 minutes in length are then screened for members of the branch’s nominating committee, which is open to all branch members and is 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 employs 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 445 members, meaning it requires 75 votes to guarantee a writing nomination.

Best Animated Short, Best Live-Action Short
The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch has 659 members, all of whom are eligible to score the qualifying films to determine two 10-film short lists. If they’ve seen all the short-listed films, they can vote for the final five nominees. Members of the Directors Branch are also invited to participate in voting in the Best Live-Action Short category.

In the unlikely event that the entire branch (and the entire Directors Branch) participates, that would mean a magic number of 110 votes in animation and 197 in live-action. But in reality, it’s likely far lower.

We’ll know the results of all of this on Jan. 22, when Oscar nominations are announced.

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