In a thank-you letter emailed to members, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences  CEO Dawn Hudson announced that not only have voting nPete Hammondumbers for the 87th Annual Academy Awards set turnout records, this year also set marks for online voting participation. The Academy never gives out specific numbers on anything, but it’s well known that the number of those voting online has been growing each year since the Acad’s rather disastrous implementation of the process in 2012. Paper ballots now are selected by a minority of members.

Polls closed at 5 PM PT on Tuesday, and the Academy seemingly made a Herculean effort in trying to get the vote out, even enlisting emails from Oscar winners including oscar-statuetteHalle Berry, Anna Paquin and Mary Poppins composer Richard M. Sherman that were designed to remind voters to do just that — vote. Hudson also sent emails to members, as did Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who also recorded robo calls, reminiscent of a political campaign to ensure a big turnout. And apparently most of the 6,292 eligible voters indeed did turn out to cast a ballot in what should be one of the most unpredictable and nail-biting Oscarcasts in recent years. Categories such as Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Original and Adapted Screenplay are considered too close to call at this point. This could be a case where every vote truly does count.

Meanwhile, the weather gods apparently are working closely with the Academy as new forecasts say there will be no rain falling on this “meat parade”Neil-Patrick-Harris-Jimmy-Kimmel-February-2015 (as George C. Scott famously called it when he announced he would turn down his Oscar nomination for Patton in 1970 — he won anyway) when the Red Carpet really gets rolling Sunday afternoon. Not one to take chances, though, the Academy has that carpet covered wall to wall with plastic right now to make sure it is perfect for the big event. And appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris promised big surprises — and some people we aren’t expecting — to show up on the telecast. He indicated that he will do some things no past host has done before. The mind reels.