Last chance Academy members — and you know who you are.
Voting for the 86th Annual Academy Awards closes today at 5 PM PT, but because of the Academy’s 2-year-old venture into online voting, members who opted in for that option actually have the luxury of time today getting their ballots in. Of course, if you are one of those members who chose the old-fashioned paper ballot and still haven’t voted for this year’s Oscars, you have only one alternative: It must be hand-delivered to the LA offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers at 601 S. Figueroa Street by that 5 PM cutoff.
There are no hard figures on just how many voters wait until the last day, but they are probably the same people seen dropping off their taxes at 11:59 PM on April 15th. I do know of a number of members who waited until this weekend to vote, particularly since this is the first year all 24 categories are open to everyone and the Academy sent out an elaborate 13-disc set of DVDs of Documentary Features, Foreign Language Film nominees and the Shorts. That’s a lot to get through. One consultant told me they estimate that anywhere from 5%-10% of the voters waited until the last 24 hours, even surmising that Monday may have been the single biggest day based on anecdotal evidence and past history. “Several members I spoke with thanked me for reminding them. They had forgotten believe it or not,” this person said. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson have continued to work diligently to turn out the vote. “I voted. We’ve gotten voicemails, emails etc. They are doing a terrific job of making sure everyone does it by the deadline this week and I credit Cheryl for that, ” said one member in an email to me after they finally cast their ballot Sunday.
The studios certainly have not stopped campaigning even though we are finally down to the last day. There are still well-placed TV spots for contenders in the LA and NY markets, particularly the top three Best Picture contenders (Gravity had several spots yesterday including one during Seth Meyers’ show debut Monday night. So did American Hustle, while 12 Years A Slave ran a long spot during Good Morning America this morning to name just a few examples). The local newspaper ads haven’t stopped yet, either. In this morning’s Los Angeles Times you could see expensive Oscar ads for the likes of Hustle, Philomena, 20 Feet From Stardom and a full page for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’s sole nomination — Best Song for U2’s “Ordinary Love” — with a reprint of the complete lyrics. Slave, which was released in October, also took out a full-page ad to court last-minute voters with a slight variation of their “It’s Time” campaign — with the slogan now adding the words “to experience ’12 Years A Slave'”. You think? If some Academy members haven’t “experienced” it yet they better get moving — fast.
“It’s so much closer than people think,” one consultant told me this morning. “I believe you go right down to the wire in categories where you think you have a chance.” The blitz of TV and print ads in the final hours certainly makes you think that in this very competitive year a lot of people do indeed think they still have that “chance.”