2023 Oscar nominations: How many votes do you need in each of the 23 categories?

Every year, the academy updates its branch totals in anticipation of voting for Oscar nominations. This year’s balloting kicks off on January 12 and runs just six days. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 24 and the 95th annual Academy Awards take place on March 12.

This year, a record 9,579 academy members can take part in deciding the Oscars. That is up by 92 from last year’s total tally of 9,487 members. And it represents a jump of  64% from the 5,856 voters who were eligible to take part in 2014. That uptick in membership was the result of the decision by the academy to do away with the cap that allowed only for replacement of those members who had died or declined to renew.

We know the introduction of online voting has increased participation to record levels. Assuming all academy members take part in the process, we can calculate the “Initial Magic Number” of votes needed for a nomination in the various categories.

Eight categories — Animated Feature, International Feature, Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound, Visual Effects, and the three Shorts (Animated, Documentary, Live-Action) — require attendance at special screenings and those various methods of nomination are detailed at the bottom of this post.

For all other categories except Best Picture (which will have 10 nominees and uses a different method of counting), this “Initial Magic Number” is calculated by dividing the number of ballots cast by six and adding one (i.e., if five contenders each get this number of first-place votes, it is mathematically impossible for a sixth to do so — read a detailed description of this method of counting).

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BEST PICTURE
All 9,579 members can cast ballots for Best Picture
“Initial Magic Number”: 871
(Read a detailed description of this method of counting.)

Five branches vote only in this race (and can take part in the selection process for Animated Feature and Foreign-Language Feature if they so choose):

Casting Directors Branch: 154 members (up from 150)
Executive Branch: 694 members (up from 681)
Marketing and Public Relations Branch: 614 members (up from 605)
Members-At-Large: members 556 (up from 554)
Producers Branch: members 648 (up from 634)

These branches total 2,656 members or 28% of the academy rolls who have no Oscar category to call their own. Last year, 2,534 members were Academy Awards orphans.

SEE 2023 Oscar Best Picture nominations: Voting and ballot counting explained in three easy steps

BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Actors Branch: 1,302 members (down from 1,336)
“Initial Magic Number”: 218

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE 
Documentary Branch: 648 members (up from 618)
“Initial Magic Number”: 109
Each branch member receives DVD screeners of the 144 entries and is assigned to watch one-fifth of these but are encouraged to view as many as they can. Members list their top 15 picks on a preferential ballot and those results are compiled and produce a short list of 15 contenders. All members are encouraged to watch the films on this list that they have not yet seen and cast preferential ballots with their top five choices.

BEST DIRECTOR
Directors Branch: 573 members (up from 568)
“Initial Magic Number”: 96

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Writers Branch: 510 members (up from 504)
“Initial Magic Number”: 86

SEE 2023 Oscar nominations: Voting and ballot counting explained in three easy steps

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Designers Branch: 390 members (up from 387)
“Initial Magic Number”: 66

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE, BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Music Branch: 388 members (up from 383)
“Initial Magic Number”: 65
A reminder list of the eligible scores and a DVD with excerpts of the eligible songs is sent to the branch members. Members list their top picks on a preferential ballot and those results are compiled and produce a short list of 15 contenders in each category.

BEST FILM EDITING
Film Editors Branch: 376 members (up from 375)
“Initial Magic Number”: 63

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 
Cinematographers Branch: 290 members (same)
“Initial Magic Number”: 49

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Costume Designers Branch: 169 members (down from 171)
“Initial Magic Number”: 29

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Eight categories have special rules as detailed below:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Voting on this award is restricted to academy members from any branch who volunteer to be on the screening committee and attest to having watched their assigned entries. Members rank their top five choices and a multi-step system of counting winnows the various contenders down to the final five nominees.

BEST ANIMATED SHORTBEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
Short Films and Feature Animation Branch: 867 members (up from 844)
Voting on these two awards is done in two stages. First, branch members who volunteer to be on the screening committees watched the animated and live-action shorts submitted. Members scored each film from 6 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and the 15 highest ranked above 7.5 go on to the second stage. All members of the branch are invited to screenings of these semi-finalists and a preferential ballot will determine the five nominees.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Documentary Branch: 648 members (up from 618)
Voting on this award is done in two stages. First, branch members who volunteered to be on the screening committee watched the documentary shorts submitted. Members scored each film from 6 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and the 15 highest ranked above 7.5 go on to the second stage. All members of the branch will be invited to screenings of these semi-finalists and a preferential ballot will determine the five nominees.

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BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Voting on this award is restricted to academy members from any branch who volunteer to be on the screening committee and watch upwards of a dozen of the 93 submissions for Foreign Language Film over a two-month period. They scored them from 6 to 10 and their top 15 vote-getters will made it to the next round. Those who can attest to seeing all the semi-finalists can vote for the final five nominees. The entire academy membership will get screeners of the five nominated films and can vote for the winner.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Makeup & Hairstyling Branch: 236 members (up from 231)
Nominations are determined in two stages. First, upwards of 15 members of the branch who attend special screenings cast preferential ballots with the top 10 vote-getters moving on to the second stage. Those members from the first stage and any other members who either attend screenings of excerpts from these 10 semi-finalists or attest that they have seen them cast preferential ballots and the top five films are nominated.

BEST SOUND
Sound Branch: 549 members (down from 550)
The executive committee of the branch determines the 10 semi-finalists. All members of the branch are invited to a screening of excerpts from these 10 films at which potential nominees may discuss their work. Ballots are counted using a system of re-weighted range voting to determine the five nominees.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual Effects Branch: 615 members (up from 606)
The executive committee of the branch determines the 10 semi-finalists. All members of the branch are invited to a screening of excerpts from these 10 films at which potential nominees may discuss their work. Ballots are counted using a system of re-weighted range voting to determine the five nominees.

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