Voting for the Academy Awards

Mailing Nominations Ballots

Each November, an election campaign commences that rivals, at least in Hollywood, the passions and sometimes the excesses of the quadrennial race for the nation’s presidency.

It’s the race for the Academy Award nomination.

Because the Academy numbers among its members the most gifted and skilled artists and craftsmen in the motion picture world, its Award stands alone as a symbol of superior achievement.

And because of the Academy’s successful efforts to eliminate splashy gimmicks and gifts, the “race” to be nominated consists principally of attempts by studios, independent distributors and publicists to make sure that each of the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sees their film. It means special screenings for Academy members, free admission to commercial runs of a film, and the mailing of DVDs.

The Academy aggressively monitors Award campaigning and has issued regulations that limit company mailings to those items that actually assist members in their efforts to assess the artistic and technical merits of a film.

The Nominations Process

Nomination ballots are mailed to the Academy’s active members in late December and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting firm, in January.

Regular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in up to 25 categories. Members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominated film editors, etc. However within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees.

All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

The results of nomination balloting are announced at a 5:30 a.m. (PT) press conference the third week of January at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Final Balloting Process

Final ballots are mailed to voting members in late-January and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers the Tuesday prior to Oscar Sunday for final tabulation.

The Academy’s entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, and Foreign Language Film – members can vote only after attesting they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.

After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the famous envelopes are opened onstage during the Academy Awards presentation.

The Voting Process

Caleb Deschanel

Academy member and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel discusses the Academy Awards voting process.

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