Oscars: It’s in the mail

Attention Academy voters: Wedged into your mailbox this weekend, behind delayed greeting cards and year-end charity appeals, is your ballot for the 78th annual Academy Awards nominations.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (do you really want your accounting and tabulation done by a firm that doesn’t believe in the space bar?) today dispatched precisely addressed and numbered (and probably self-destructing) ballots to 5,798 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Voters will be weighing in on 311 features that have been declared eligible for Best Picture. 311! That’s a 16.5 percent increase from 2004 and the first time in 32 years that the field has surpassed 300, for those of you not with PricewaterhouseCoopers who are keeping track of such details.
Academy officials attribute the jump to an upsurge in feature-length documentaries getting theatrical distribution — for which documentarians should face Flint, Mich., and bow to Michael Moore — and corporate reorganizations that led to the release of a large number of long-delayed films.
Whatever the reason, that’s a whole lot of films to view before ballots are due Jan. 21. And that’s 306 teams of filmmakers who will be out of the crown race when nominations are announced Jan. 31.

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