Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot #2: Bradley Cooper "Perfect," 'Green Book' "Retrograde and Borderline Offensive"

9:46 AM 2/22/2019

by Anonymous, as told to Scott Feinberg

A female sound branch member talks about "waiting for something to happen" in 'Roma,' backing Glenn Close because of 'Dangerous Liaisons' and sleeping with Buzz Aldrin.

Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot - Illustration by Kyle Metcalf -H  2019
Illustration by Kyle Metcalf

A female member of the Academy's 506-person sound branch, granted a cloak of anonymity, reveals why she filled out her final Oscar ballot the way that she did.

  • Best Picture

    I wish Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had been nominated — it was terrific — and I really enjoyed A Quiet Place, too. I hated Vice — well, I should say, I hated the first half of it, because I turned it off halfway through; it felt gimmicky. I did not care for Black Panther — I appreciate what the film represented to people, but I just thought it was pretty mediocre. I'm not a fan of Green Book, either — it felt kind of retrograde and borderline offensive with all the cliches, and then I read what the family [of Don Shirley] was saying and that didn't help. My son said to me, "That movie is trash"; I wouldn't go that far. I wanted to love Roma, but in the end I just thought it was boring, albeit beautiful to look at. I kept waiting for something to happen. My daughter and I watched it together at home and we kept saying, "She's running in the street — maybe she's going to get hit by a car?" No. "She's going out into the water to save the kids — maybe one of them is going to die?" And my daughter said, "No, because all of the kids are huddled together on the beach on the poster." So then, during the credits, she said, "Let's watch through the credits, because maybe there's a scene after the credits?" Nope — and, by that time, we were laughing. There are so many people that liked it, and it's winning everything, but for me it did not work. It took me a while to get into BlacKkKlansman, but I eventually did — I really like Spike Lee, I love Adam Driver and I'm a fan of [John] David Washington from Ballers on TV. But I only voted for three. My number three is Bohemian Rhapsody, which I liked a lot — I didn't like how they handled Freddie Mercury's homosexuality; they just more or less avoided it, but Rami Malek was terrific and I loved the concert scenes. I put A Star Is Born at number two — a really entertaining Hollywood movie; the acting was great and everything worked for me except the ending. I liked The Favourite a lot — not the cinematography, but everything else about it. I guess it was the one of the eight nominees that I liked the most, but I can't say it was a favorite film of mine. There was no Phantom Thread for me this year.

    My Vote: (1) The Favourite, (2) A Star Is Born, (3) Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Best Director

    I loathed Cold War, so that was it for Pawel [Pawlikowski]. I just thought Adam McKay miscalculated [with Vice] — he tried to do the same thing with this movie that he did with The Big Short, and it did not work. I know this is blasphemous, but I thought that [Roma's Alfonso] Cuaron just borrowed a lot from Fellini — I guess you could call it an homage — and, hello, just because you can have a tracking shot that goes three blocks doesn't mean you should. She [Yalitza Aparicio's character] has got to get somewhere — at the end of it, something's gotta happen! I thought the direction of BlacKkKlansman [Spike Lee] and The Favourite [Yorgos Lanthimos] were both great, but I just liked The Favourite more.

    My Vote: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

  • Best Actor

    I did not see At Eternity's Gate [starring Willem Dafoe]. [Vice's] Christian [Bale] didn't do it for me. Viggo [Mortensen of Green Book] was good, but it's hard to vote for somebody for a movie you're not crazy about. Rami [Malek of Bohemian Rhapsody] was great, but — this is going to sound awful — he was so short, and Freddie Mercury was so tall, that it just kind of bothered me. I liked [A Star Is Born's] Bradley [Cooper] the best — I totally bought him as a drunk rock-star, I believed every moment he was on screen and every moment of him was perfect. I mean, the fact that he sang and he played and he directed himself — I was just astounded by how good he was.

    My Vote: Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)

  • Best Actress

    Glenn [Close of The Wife] is going to win, and I voted for her — because of [the 1988 film] Dangerous Liaisons. She was so great in that — I remember that scene where she's staring into the mirror and has just that little bit of a shudder; she was just so wonderful in that. I thought The Wife was okay — I saw her on TV the other night, and even she has said she was kind of surprised at the attention this little movie has gotten her — but sometimes you do vote for an accumulation of work, and she's of a certain age, and I think it's just time. You know what I learned recently? All the gays love her. I have gay friends and members of my family, and they're all on my case to vote for her — I never saw Glenn Close as a big gay icon, but they all love her! [A Star Is Born's Lady] Gaga was really good. I loved [The Favourite's] Olivia Colman and would have voted for her. But I just think it's Glenn's turn.

    My Vote: Glenn Close (The Wife)

  • Best Supporting Actor

    I hated Sam Rockwell's whole movie [Vice]. Sam Elliott was barely in the movie [A Star Is Born]. Mahershala [Ali of Green Book] and Adam Driver [of BlacKkKlansman] are always good. But I think that whole thing with Richard [E. Grant of Can You Ever Forgive Me?] and Barbra Streisand just endeared him to people, don't you? I mean, that picture of him crying?! [When Streisand replied to his tweet.] I know what it's like when you really love somebody so much, and then they give you the time of day. Plus, he's a lovely actor — one of those who you've always known about, but didn't know his name.

    My Vote: Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

  • Best Supporting Actress

    The lady in Roma [Marina de Tavira] has no chance of winning. Of the other four, it's really a toss-up. Rachel [Weisz, of The Favourite] and Emma [Stone, of The Favourite] and Amy [Adams, of Vice] are always so good. I'd love to see [If Beale Street Could Talk's] Regina King win because she's been fabulous on TV for years. It's her time.

    My Vote: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)

  • Best Adapted Screenplay

    I did not see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. A Star Is Born has been done many times before. Can You Ever Forgive Me? and If Beale Street Could Talk were done very well. But BlacKkKlansman's screenplay I thought was better. I'm not sure any of them are really 'Oscar-worthy,' but there you go.

    My Vote: BlacKkKlansman

  • Best Original Screenplay

    I didn't see First Reformed — no interest whatsoever, I guess because of the subject matter, particularly during the holiday season. As you may have heard, I hated Vice, Roma and Green Book. So that's how I got to The Favourite, which was beautifully written.

    My Vote: The Favourite

  • Best Animated Feature

    I didn't see Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet or Incredibles 2. Isle of Dogs? I didn't like that at all. Spider-Man [Into the Spider-Verse] was fantastic.

    My Vote: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

  • Best Documentary Feature

    I just couldn't believe that Won't You be My Neighbor? didn't get in there — I thought it was wonderful. I did not see Free Solo because I just have a thing about heights — I could barely get through Tom Cruise hanging off the mountain [in Mission: Impossible — Fallout] — and I feel bad because it's probably fabulous, but there you go. I liked RBG a lot.

    My Vote: RBG

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    I did not see Capernaum or Never Look Away. Being in black-and-white does not make a movie fabulous. You know how I feel about Roma, and I feel pretty much the same way about Cold War, too — the female character keeps leaving her lover, and what she does to her child at the end is unforgivable and made me hate her. Why did the guy like her? They deserve each other. I thought Shoplifters was terrific.

    My Vote: Shoplifters

  • Best Cinematography

    I did not like the use of the wide-angle lens that the cinematographer used [in The Favourite], which curved the sides of the screen and made me nauseous — it drove me crazy. I'm going with Roma — I didn't love the movie, but I appreciated the art of it.

    My Vote: Roma

  • Best Costume Design

    I didn't care for anything to do with Mary Queen of Scots. I know Black Panther is probably going to win, but I didn't think its costumes were better than The Favourite's. Those felt spot-on for the period — in other words, they enhanced the movie without smothering it.

    My Vote: The Favourite

  • Best Film Editing

    Vice was very gimmicky. I went with Bohemian Rhapsody because they did a really wonderful job with all of the concert sequences; A Star Is Born did too. BlacKkKlansman was a close second for me.

    My Vote: Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling

    I did not see Border and I did not like Mary Queen of Scots at all. The makeup in Vice was outstanding — subtle, but really good. As much as I loathed the movie, it's a reminder that great makeup work exists outside of big sci-fi movies and that sort of thing; it really added to the believability of the characters.

    My Vote: Vice

  • Best Original Score

    The only one that stands out to me is BlacKkKlansman. I've been a fan of [composer] Terence Blanchard since Inside Man.

    My Vote: BlacKkKlansman

  • Best Original Song

    I didn't like the song from Mary Poppins [Returns, "The Place Where Lost Things Goes"]. I don't even remember the song from RBG ["I'll Fight"]. "All the Stars" [from Black Panther] was somewhat memorable. But, to me, they were just searching for songs to fill up the category. Isn't a song supposed to reflect a bit about the movie and be memorable? To me, there was only one that deserves this sort of an honor: like everyone else, I really liked "Shallow." It draws you in to the picture, and it's also what she should have sung at the end of the movie, instead of the goodbye tribute-song.

    My Vote: "Shallow" (A Star Is Born)

  • Best Production Design

    I did not like Mary Poppins [Returns] or Roma. Black Panther is probably going to win, but I did not like the production design on that — to me, every scene looked like a set. First Man — I used to go out with Buzz Aldrin. [I ask, "Are you serious?"] Yeah, he was cute back in the day — the only person I ever slept with just because of who he was; I just wanted to say, "I slept with someone who was on the moon." Our first date was going to an AA meeting; one time we went three times in a day, and that was on Easter! No wonder I like A Star Is Born! I didn't even drink or smoke, and I didn't want anybody to think I did. I don't know what I was thinking — I was just young and crazy. Anyway, I did not like First Man, although I love Ryan Gosling. I voted for The Favourite, which was really very tasty.

    My Vote: The Favourite

  • Best Sound Editing

    For all my issues with Roma, the sound and the mix were lovely — Skip Lievsay did a beautiful job, which you can only fully appreciate if you see it in Dolby Atmos, something I did when I went to give the movie a second try, on the big screen. I still hated it, but the sound was great — a terrific use of spatial placement. You really felt like you were in Mexico City in the seventies. It deserves to win, but I suspect the Academy will give it to a louder picture, maybe Black Panther.

    My Vote: Roma

  • Best Sound Mixing

    I know that when we vote for the same film for sound editing and sound mixing, people tell us to combine the categories, and maybe there is something to that. But I absolutely feel that the best achievement in both areas this year was by Roma. People can go on about A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody as much as they want, but this isn't a close call.

    My Vote: Roma

  • Best Visual Effects

    I did not see Christopher Robin. I saw Avengers [Infinity War], First Man and Solo: A Star Wars Story, and I wasn't blown away by any of them — all stuff I've seen before. But I thought Ready Player One was pretty spectacular — it was so expansive and I felt like it broke new ground.

    My Vote: Ready Player One

  • Best Animated Short

    I didn't get around to the shorts this year.

    My Vote: I abstain.

  • Best Documentary Short

    My Vote: I abstain

  • Best Live Action Short

    My Vote: I abstain