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In the 89th annual Academy Awards, nine films were competing for Best Picture. However, in most other categories there are five or less nominations, with Best Makeup and Hairstyling having the least at three.

Why is there such a disparity in the number of nominations? Surely there were more films that could have been competitive in these categories?

  • Best Picture changed from 5 to 10 a few years ago. – GendoIkari Feb 27 '17 at 16:46
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That's just how it is. Best picture is capped at 10 nominees and the other categories are capped at five, though some of the categories will occasionally have only three.

On June 24, 2009, AMPAS announced that the number of films to be nominated in the Best Picture award category would increase from five to ten, starting with the 82nd Academy Awards (2009). The expansion was a throwback to the Academy's early years in the 1930s and 1940s, when eight to twelve films were nominated each year. "Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize," AMPAS President Sid Ganis said in a press conference. "I can't wait to see what that list of 10 looks like when the nominees are announced in February."

From the general page:

In all major categories, a variant of the single transferable vote is used, with each member casting a ballot with up to five nominees (ten for Best Picture) ranked preferentially.

It's worth noting that there are a maximum of ten films. It's pretty rare that they actually have ten. They've done so since the 2009 update to the rules in 2009 and 2010 only. Since then, they've generally had nine with a couple of years having only eight.

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    The reason there are sometimes less than ten is that films still need to reach a percentage of the vote threshold to become a nominee. – Ross Feb 27 '17 at 17:15

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