Just as the final phase of Oscar voting begins today with specially selected uber committees in Los Angeles and New York picking the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film (out of 9 finalists), Academy CEO Dawn Hudson has announced to her membership that the Academy broke their own voter turnout record. At one point it had seemed to me there might be a smaller turnout since many members told me they hadn’t voted until earlier this week. In fact several mentioned getting frequent phone messages and emails in the last few days urging them to vote. Apparently it had an effect because in a emailed letter this morning that Deadline has acquired Hudson told a different story. “Thank you for voting for the Oscars nominations. Because of you, our polls closed on Wednesday with record voter turnout,” it read. After urging them to watch the nominations announcement next Thursday by President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and actor Chris Hemsworth she concluded, ” It’s been an incredible year of movies, and thanks again for taking the time to watch and vote”.
The Academy isn’t revealing just exactly what percentage of the 6028 eligible members actually cast ballots, but it’s good to know in a very competitive year that they turned out in larger numbers. Last year, the first year of online voting, then-President Hawk Koch told me it was also a record turnout so the trajectory according to the Academy is up. Although I heard scattered reports of difficulty for a voter or two with the online voting system, the Academy streamlined it this year and from all I can tell it’s nowhere near the difficulties some had last season. One top studio executive who waited to vote until Wednesday morning , just under the deadline later that day, emailed me this: “Just wanted to let you know that I voted electronically this morning and the process went smoothly and seamlessly. Bravo Academy!” What a difference a year makes. This same exec had called me on the last day of nomination balloting last year in a mad panic saying he couldn’t get into the system. Eventually he called Academy officials, with just a couple of hours before deadline, and was allowed to fax to Price Waterhouse Coopers a paper ballot they messengered over.
Nominations are announced at 5:38AM January 16th.