Just how many (or few) votes do you need to land an Oscar nomination?

The 6,028 members of the motion picture academy are in the midst of filling in their ballots for Oscar nominations. The deadline for either completing these online or getting them back to the accountants is 5 pm PT on Jan. 8.

We have written in detail about the complicated counting method used to determine the Best Picture lineup here. And we have analyzed the effects of preferential voting — first introduced back in 1934 — on most of the other categories here.  

Below, we crunch the numbers to reveal the exact count of academy members in each branch and the “magic” number of them you have to win over in order to be among the nominees announced on Jan. 16. With five nominees in a category, this threshold is the members total in that branch divided by six plus one. If each of five contenders reaches this number, it is mathematically impossible for a sixth to get there. 

After the break, we delve into the workings of the three branches — Makeup & Hairstylists, Short Films & Feature Animation, and Visual Effects — that use different methods for determining their nominees. 

Overall – Best Picture: 6,028 members/549 votes
(but 5% rule dictates only 301 votes needed)

Actors: 1,196/197 votes

Sound: 418/70 votes

Writers: 378/64 votes*
* however, as past writing nominees from other branches — such as actors like Emma Thompson and directors such as David. O. Russell — can vote here too so this number may well be higher. 

Directors: 377/63 votes

Production Designers: 262/44 votes

Music: 240/41 votes

Film Editors: 230/39 votes

Cinematographers: 228/39 votes

Documentary: 210/36 votes (for Documentary Feature)*
*a special screening committee determines Documentary Short nominees, culling eight semi-finalists down to between three and five nominees using average scoring system. 

Costume Designers: 108/19 votes

The other branches — Makeup & Hairstylists, Short Films & Feature Animation, and Visual Effects — each use a different system to arrive at the nominations. 

Short Films & Feature Animation: 366 members: for Animated Feature, all academy members can take part so the magic number to find five nominees may be greater than 62; for animated and live action short categories, screening committee drawn from members of the branch determine 10 semi-finalists; all members who have seen these films score them from 6 to 10 and those receiving at least a 7.5 average score are nominees up to five in all. 

Makeup & Hairstylists: 135 members; at least 15 needed at special screening to determine seven semi-finalists; all members who have seen these films rank three and those in overall top three are nominees. 

Visual Effects: 323 members; executive committee determines 10 semi-finalists; screening committee uses reweighted range voting to find five nominees. 

What do you think is going to win Best Picture? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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