A guy who was right in the thick of today’s New York Film Critics Circle balloting (which took almost five hours to complete) shares the following: “For four ballots the Best Picture vote was essentially a tie between American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, and then Hustle finally won in a run-off vote against Slave. So it basically took five ballots. (N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick reports it actually took six ballots, although one of these was “disqualified on a technicality.”)

Inside Llewyn Davis was a contender all day long but it didn’t have the votes. At least it did better than The Wolf of Wall Street, which didn’t compete vigorously in any category.

“The Best Supporting Actress vote went on for three ballots, and was a very close match between Hustle‘s Jennifer Lawrence and 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita N’yongo. Nebraska‘s June Squibb was in there but not very strongly.

“The Best Director voting went intially for Steve McQueen, David O’Russell, Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen brothers but McQueen and Russell were very close with the most support…and then McQueen took it on the fourth ballot.

“There was no strong challenge against Cate Blanchett for Best Actress although there was some support for Adele “whatsername” (i.e., Exarchopoulos) and Hustle‘s Amy Adams.

Robert Redford‘s Best Actor trophy was decided on a second ballot. The bulk of the first-ballot votes went to Redford and Slave‘s Chiweitel Ejiofor. A certain level of support was also there for Oscar Isaac, Bruce Dern and Matthew McConaughey.

Dallas Buyer’s Club‘s Jared Leto took Best Supporting Actor on the second ballot. His closest competitors were 12 Years A Slave‘s Michael Fassbender and Spring BreakersJames Franco. Jonah Hill got a couple of votes but nothing to shout about.

“After the Best Screenplay win for Eric Singer and David O. Russell’s American Hustle, the runner-up was Before Midnight followed by Spike Jonze‘s Her screenplay and the Coen brothers’Inside Llewyn Davis.

Sarah Polley‘s Stories We Tell was a third ballot win for Best Non-Fiction. The Act of Killing and 20 Feet From Stardom were the runners-up.

“There was no formidable competition for the Best Cinematography award won by Inside Llewyn Davis‘s Bruno Delbonnel. The strongest runners-up were for Gravity and Nebraska. The Wolf of Wall Street got one or two votes.

The Wolf of Wall Street was not a contender for Best Picture or in any other category,” he says.

“There never any debate or discussion about anything — people just come in and vote. The first ballot and then if there’s no winner it goes to a weighted second ballot (3, 2, 1). Then the proxies drop out on the third ballot. And the fourth ballot is a run-off between the top two.”

30 or 31 people actually showed up. The others voted by proxy.