Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 4: 'Birdman' "Bored Me to Death," Carell "Blew Me Away"

An anonymous male Academy member relished getting to vote for Julianne Moore, grew tired of 'Citizenfour' and loved 'Wild Tales' so much he's seen it three times.
'Birdman'

This is a lightly-edited transcript of a conversation with an Academy member who is not associated with any of this year's nominees about his ballot. A conversation with a different member will post each day leading up to the Oscars ceremony on Feb. 22. Needless to say, their views are not necessarily endorsed by Scott Feinberg or THR.

VOTER PROFILE: A member of the Academy's 1,150-member actors branch who accumulated most of his credits in the 1970s.

➻ BEST PICTURE

I do not think that there were any egregious snubs — Foxcatcher was wonderful and I hoped it would get in, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. And I think the "controversies" were overblown. I didn't think Selma made LBJ [Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson] into a bad guy; in reality, he was a foul-mouthed politician who was protecting himself, but he still came around and ultimately did the right thing, and the film shows that. The movie suggests he was arm-twisted into doing that, and maybe he was, but he still did it, so I had no problem with that at all. And I don't know enough about the real Chris Kyle to know if they got him right or wrong. He certainly comes off like a really good, gung-ho, A1 guy. Maybe he was an asshole — he certainly was not nice to his wife, spending four tours over in the Middle East — but you know what? It's a movie and you're entitled to take artistic liberties.

Overall, I thought Selma was a very good movie, but it didn't blow me away. Birdman bored me to death, although I could appreciate that Michael Keaton was brilliant. I kept postponing watching Boyhood because I didn't think I'd like it, but when I was finally saw it I was very impressed by the amount of work and care and thought that went into it over the years while everybody else was off doing other projects — that movie, to me, embodies movie-making.

I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was a lot of fun, it was totally enjoyable and I love Wes Anderson's quirky, bizarre movies. [The] Imitation Game is a movie that I thought I was gonna like a lot more than I did like it, but I still liked it a lot and it stayed with me. The Theory of Everything is a movie that has two absolutely wonderful performances and I loved it while I was watching it, but it did not stay with me.

Whiplash just affected me. I thought it was so well done. It's a normal story, but all of the elements were working there.

MY VOTE: (1) Boyhood, (2) Whiplash, (3) American Sniper, (4) The Grand Budapest Hotel, (5) The Imitation Game

➻ BEST DIRECTOR

Boyhood was so well put-together that I have to say [Richard] Linklater — that was good filmmaking — although my next choice would have been Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher; that movie just worked for me.

MY VOTE: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

➻ BEST ACTOR

This is the toughest category of them all. They all were brilliant — these five actors were their movies. This was hard because the others were all within millimeters, but I'm gonna go with [Foxcatcher's] Steve Carell because he just blew me away. It was such an intense performance and totally unlike anything he's ever done before.

MY VOTE: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

➻ BEST ACTRESS

The immediate answer is [Still Alice's] Julianne Moore. It was such a subtle, wonderful, moving performance, and she's a delightful woman and a wonderful, wonderful actress. Gone Girl is another movie that didn't do much for me, but Rosamund [Pike, its star] was very good. I liked [Wild's] Reese Witherspoon, who I usually don't like. And Marion [Cotillard of Two Days, One Night] and Felicity [Jones of The Theory of Everything] were good. But there's no doubt that it's Julianne Moore.

MY VOTE: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

➻ BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

It's gotta be [J.K.] Simmons for Whiplash because he's what made that film, along with Miles [Teller, his costar]. I love [Foxcatcher's] Mark Ruffalo, and he definitely deserves to be there. Ethan Hawke, out of all of the elements of Boyhood, was probably the least interesting to me. Edward Norton didn't do anything for me in Birdman and may be one reason why I was so not into it. And I like Robert Duvall and The Judge, but not nearly as much as Simmons or Ruffalo.

Read more Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 1

MY VOTE: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

➻ BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

I'm gonna go for [Boyhood's] Patricia Arquette. I really liked her throughout the movie and I felt like she grew wonderfully well throughout it. Emma Stone, who I'm in lust with — I've always been — did not do it for me in Birdman; really nothing did in that movie except for Michael Keaton. I love [Into the Woods'] Meryl Streep and it looked like she was having so much fun. [Wild's] Laura Dern was very good. And [The Imitation Game's] Keira Knightley, who I'm hot and cold about, I liked very much. But it's Patricia Arquette's year.

MY VOTE: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

➻ BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Inherent Vice is another movie that just didn't do anything for me, so drop that one. Theory of Everything was a nice movie but it didn't hold up for me. Of the other three, I didn't really know how to choose. I wanted to vote for Whiplash, but American Sniper and The Imitation Game were damn well written movies. I went with Sniper — I thought it was a grander story.

MY VOTE: American Sniper

➻ BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

A tough one. Boyhood's kept it going. But I'm gonna go with Grand Budapest Hotel for this one because I loved the quirkiness and I loved what they did with it.

MY VOTE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

➻ BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

I loved Big Hero 6. Then I saw The Boxtrolls and I thought the animation was great — but the movie didn't knock me out. I must admit that I have not seen How to Train Your Dragon 2. But I have seen Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, both of which I loved very much — they were really unique. If I was just voting for animation, I'd have gone with Boxtrolls. But since you have to consider everything, I went with Big Hero 6.

MY VOTE: Big Hero 6

➻ BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

I have not seen Last Days in Vietnam. Picking from the others, I went with Finding Vivian Maier. I loved [The] Salt of the Earth. Citizenfour's topic is interesting and she [Laura Poitras] did a good job, but I grew bored with it, to be honest with you. And Virunga, too — it just got too broad. But I was most impressed with the story of Vivian Maier.

MY VOTE: Finding Vivian Maier

➻ BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Hands-down, Wild Tales. It was so unique, it was so funny — each one of those six episodes were good, sharp, biting fun stories of revenge or karma or however you want to put it. I've seen that movie now three times and I could watch it again. I loved Leviathan, which probably would have been my second choice; I thought it was really intense, good filmmaking, but it's not a movie I would want to watch three times.

MY VOTE: Wild Tales

➻ BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Mr. Turner is in a different class than the others, absolutely. It was an amazing movie to watch.

MY VOTE: Mr. Turner

➻ BEST COSTUME DESIGN

I didn't see Maleficent and, as I said, Inherent Vice just didn't do it for me, although the costume design was very good in it, I must say. Budapest and Into the Woods were so fun and stylized. And I liked the costumes and everything about Mr. Turner — it didn't feel like a Mike Leigh movie, did it?

MY VOTE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

➻ BEST FILM EDITING

Sniper and Whiplash were edited perfectly, but putting 12 years of Boyhood together must have been an incredibly daunting thing and it was done seamlessly.

MY VOTE: Boyhood

➻ BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

I'm tempted to give it to Budapest on Tilda Swinton alone [the actress was aged decades and is virtually unrecognizable in the film]. But Guardians of the Galaxy I had a lot of fun with and it seemed like it was a much more massive job.

MY VOTE: Guardians of the Galaxy

➻ BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Hans Zimmer's score [for Interstellar] did not do it for me. Mr. Turner I really liked a lot. But The Imitation Game and Grand Budapest stand out to me.

MY VOTE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

➻ BEST ORIGINAL SONG

I have not seen most of the films that the songs are in.

MY VOTE: I abstain.

➻ BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Another hard one. Even though I've thrown a lot of weight toward Budapest and Imitation Game, I just think Mr. Turner was so beautiful.

MY VOTE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

➻ BEST SOUND EDITING

I have absolutely no idea what the difference is between this and sound mixing. [laughs] I vote for the movie that I like. I loved The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and I think the sound is such a big part of it — I have a great sound system at home.

MY VOTE: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

➻ BEST SOUND MIXING

Again, I don't know enough to make an informed decision. Obviously, the sound in Whiplash, with the drums and music, was so important.

MY VOTE: Whiplash

➻ BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

I haven't seen Captain America [: The Winter Soldier] and I haven't seen X-Men [: Days of Future Past]. Interstellar was okay. Guardians of the Galaxy was fun. But I loved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

MY VOTE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

➻ BEST ANIMATED SHORT

I have seen all of these. Feast is absolutely charming and delightful and lovely. But I really, really liked A Single Life.

MY VOTE: A Single Life

➻ BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

➻ BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

I didn't get to watch them.

MY VOTE FOR BOTH: I abstain.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg

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