A member of the actors branch also criticizes 'Carol' nominee Rooney Mara: "That part needed an Audrey Hepburn, an enchanting, alive, beautiful young woman, instead of this depressed person whom I never believed Cate Blanchett would have fallen in love with."
This is part of a series of conversations with Oscar voters about their ballots. You can read other installments here; additional installments will be added through the day of the Oscars, Sunday, Feb. 28.
Voter Profile: A member of the Academy's 1,138-member actors branch.
I see everything and I actually thought the best pictures of the year were The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Testament of Youth, but they didn't even come close to getting nominated. Of those that were nominated? The Big Short was the most original and well done of all the films. It told a very complex story so well that I wanted to see it again and did. Bridge of Spies was a very well done, traditional film, although rather predictable.
Brooklyn was a really glossed-over, Hollywood-ized, romantic version of immigration — they should have screened [Elia] Kazan's America America to see what immigration was really like in the fifties. Believe me, you didn't come over in a room shared with one other person, you came over in steerage with 60 people and two bathrooms, and the reason everybody was up on top of the deck was because every smelled down below; and when you arrived you didn't live in a nice boarding house with a lovely landlady cooking delicious meals for you, you lived in tenement housing, three or four to a room. They didn't study the period and it pissed me off.
Mad Max: [Fury Road] was really remarkable — it's a movie I would not want to see again, but I have to say that he [George Miller] really made a ride on an intense rollercoaster and it was jaw-dropping. The Martian was entertaining but predictable. The Revenant was the most overblown, over-hyped piece of crap ever — I mean, honestly. I think it's gonna win, sadly, because people buy into all the PR about how hard it was to make, but I don't care. There was something anti-human about this movie; there was no humanity and I didn't like anybody.
Room was kind of amazing — just telling a complex story so well. I liked Spotlight but I didn't love it — I think it was more about glorifying the journalists than about what happened to the victims, which bothered me — and they patted themselves on the back so much about this movie that it really turned me off. I put Big Short at number one and left the other lines blank — mathematically, I don't want to throw things off and help another movie. They really should have just one line.
My vote: (1) The Big Short, (2) none, (3) none, (4) none, (5) none
I found the director of Room [Lenny Abrahamson] to be pompous at Q&As, and at a meet-and-greet I found [The Revenant's Alejandro G.] Inarritu to be a slick guy — he's not looking to see who you are, he's just delivering his message. I never met [Spotlight's] Tom McCarthy, but everyone associated with that movie came across as a little too self-important. I loved The Big Short [directed by Adam McKay]. But I voted for the director of Mad Max [George Miller] because I thought his movie was so complicated, and the way he filmed it and directed it? He had the hardest job.
My vote: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
First, let me say that [Mr. Holmes'] Ian McKellen should have been nominated. But, of the five people who were, I immediately ruled out [The Revenant's] Leonardo DiCaprio. I know he's gonna win, but I thought his performance was all environment acting — if you put somebody in the cold, they're gonna shake and shiver — and I thought he played the whole thing one-note. I really didn't see any change from beginning to end — nothing was revealed that was unexpected.
Also, I've gotta tell you that a lot of Academy members were bothered by him showing up at Academy events with two bodyguards. The second to go was [The Theory of Everything's] Eddie Redmayne. He's a good actor and I like him, but the movie is weak and doesn't acknowledge that both his character and his character's wife were both bisexual and sexually crazy. Next off the list is [Steve Jobs'] Michael Fassbender — I hated almost everything about the movie and thought the documentary [Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine] was so much better at explaining Steve Jobs.
I thought [The Martian's] Matt Damon did an adequate job, but was a bit too casual — he never really captured the desperation that someone caught in that type of a situation would feel. So [Trumbo's Bryan] Cranston was the last man standing — he did a terrific job in a very mediocre film. He is the glue that holds that film together.
My vote: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
I ruled out [Joy's] Jennifer Lawrence — she's a fabulous young actress, she's beautiful, she's very charming, I love her, but she should take a break for a year or two before she does another movie because she's doing the same thing over and over. She's on repeat.
Next out is the Irish girl [Brooklyn's Saoirse Ronan] — she's really lovely and terrific, and without her that film would have really sucked, but even with her it was pretty weak. I think she was let down by her director [John Crowley].
Cate Blanchett is always wonderful, and she was fine in [Carol], but she was even better as the step-mother in Cinderella.
It was very hard for me to choose between [Room's] Brie Larson and [45 Years' Charlotte Rampling]. I liked Brie very much — she did a fabulous job — but I ultimately went with Charlotte because her part was harder to do, since the marks that she had to hit to make her movie work were less clear. She gave such a subtle performance, and I know it left some people I know bored, but I was with her — and Tom Courtenay — every step of the way.
My vote: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
I wish [Mississippi Grind's] Ben Mendelsohn had been nominated in this category. Anyway, [The Revenant's Tom] Hardy was out first. I like him as an actor, and he was fine in this one, but I just hated the movie so much.
I like [Spotlight's] Mark Ruffalo, but I didn't think he stood out any more than any of the other actors in that cast; I actually preferred him in Infinitely Polar Bear and nominated him for that in the leading actor category.
Next to go was [The Big Short's Christian] Bale, although I loved him in that movie and think he was the best thing about it. But I was torn between [Creed's] Sylvester Stallone and [Bridge of Spies'] Mark Rylance. I know Sylvester's gonna win 'cause he's the sympathetic option, and he deserves it — in a way, this was the purest work that I've seen him do and he revealed a part of himself that I've never seen him reveal before — but Mark Rylance, to me, is one of the greatest actors ever. He makes it look so simple, but he really is a master of his craft, as we see from the opening of the movie when he's painting right through to the end.
My vote: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
I think category fraud is disgusting, and it is blatant category fraud for [Carol's] Rooney Mara and [The Danish Girl's] Alicia Vikander to be in this category — they were clearly stars of their movies and they should not have been allowed in this category. Even though I liked Alicia's performance a lot, I will not vote for anybody who is the star of their movie but competes in a supporting category — I'm really angry that they do that.
Now, even if Rooney Mara had been nominated in the leading category, I wouldn't have voted for her because I thought her performance was dreadful — that part needed an Audrey Hepburn, an enchanting, alive, beautiful young woman, instead of this depressed person who I never believed Cate Blanchett would have fallen in love with.
I didn't like [Spotlight's Rachel] McAdams' performance. I thought of the entire ensemble she was the weakest because she didn't reveal anything about her character — even in her scenes with her grandmother she felt flat.
I also eliminated [The Hateful Eight's] Jennifer Jason Leigh, who basically just spat and cursed and got punched. I think she's a wonderful actress — I've nominated her before — but this was not her finest moment.
I voted for [Steve Jobs'] Kate Winslet because I didn't even recognize her! I thought, "Who is this actress? She's really terrific!" She created a character and she pulled it off, so hats off to her.
My vote: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Brooklyn missed the whole period. Carol could have clicked a lot more if they had cast a different younger actress. And l liked The Martian. But it was between Room and The Big Short for me. I loved The Big Short more so it got my vote.
My vote: The Big Short
I really liked all of the nominees, actually. It was a very hard choice to make. It was between Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton for me. I thought Straight Outta Compton was just a terrific film for that genre and I was fascinated by the story of the evolution of that music. But I wound up voting for Inside Out because I thought it was so original.
My vote: Inside Out
I actually watched all five. It ultimately was between Anomalisa and Inside Out, which were the two best by far. Anomalisa is unique, but Inside Out was special.
My vote: Inside Out
All of them were really great. Amy is gonna win, but I found it hard to care about such a self-destructive person. What Happened, Miss Simone? was done too traditionally. I was torn between Cartel Land, The Look of Silence and Winter on Fire, which were all amazing. It was a really hard choice, but what broke the tie for me was meeting [The Look of Silence director] Josh Oppenheimer — he is such a human being and he is such a deep soul and he put his life on the line to do this movie about a heroic man who insisted on looking evil right in the eye — and forgave it.
My vote: The Look of Silence
All five were first-class. [Hungary's] Son of Saul is gonna win, but I felt it was too manipulative so I voted for the [Embrace of the] Serpent film [from Colombia]. It was totally brilliant and haunting, and its director [Ciro Guerra] is a genius. What really hurt it is that it's a black-and-white film with subtitles in white, which made them very hard to read them on a screener.
My vote: Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
I liked the cinematography in Sicario, but I voted for Mad Max because I thought it probably was the hardest of them all to capture, with the non-stop movement and all of that.
My vote: Mad Max: Fury Road
I voted for Cinderella because I just loved every little thing she did — I think it was a woman [it was, Sandy Powell]. I went into that movie reluctant to see Cinderella again but thanks to that actress [Lily James] I just fell in love with it — they should have put her in Carol. And the costuming was just lush and wonderful. I could feel the fabrics through the screen.
My vote: Cinderella
It was between The Big Short and Mad Max for me. I voted for Mad Max because I think that was probably the most complex to edit. An editor can make or break a movie and this editor [Margaret Sixel] really made that movie.
My vote: Mad Max: Fury Road
I voted for The 100-Year-Old Man [laughs], which will never get it, because I thought it was kind of wonderfully done. I saw it at a screening early in the year and I loved it.
My vote: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
I don't know, I thought Star Wars: [The Force Awakens] was very loud. Carol was a nice score. I voted for Bridge of Spies. This is a category where I wouldn't mind if just the people from the category [the music branch] voted for it because I think they know more about it than I do.
My vote: Bridge of Spies
I didn't like any of them. I remember watching the Academy Awards as a kid and there were songs that you could actually hum. Those days are gone. Lady Gaga's gonna win [for "Til It Happens to You," the song she wrote with Diane Warren], but I voted for the one from Youth [David Lang's "Simple Song #3"] because at least it had a melody.
My vote: "Simple Song #3" (Youth)
I ruled out Revenant right away. It was hard to choose between the other four. Ultimately, I went with Bridge of Spies because it really captured that period so beautifully. I really felt like I was back in that time and place.
My vote: Bridge of Spies
You know, I don't really know the difference between these two. These are also categories that I would be fine with leaving to the sound people to choose because I really don't know enough about it. The reason I voted for Mad Max for both is because I actually remember its sound, with the trucks and the desert and all of that.
My vote for both: Mad Max: Fury Road
I voted for Ex Machina because I was just amazed by what they did with her [Alicia Vikander]. I know it's not gonna win 'cause it's not a big movie, but I was just totally knocked out by what they did visually.
My vote: Ex Machina
I liked them all, but the bear thing got to me — I'm into animal rights, and there's just something about a bear being separated from his family.
My vote: Bear Story
All of them were good, but only one of them grabbed my heart: I voted for Chau, Beyond the Lines because I was so touched by the story of a disabled little boy who wanted to be an artist becoming a mouth-painter. I thought, "If I ever want to complain about something in my life again, I have to remember this kid." What an amazing story.
My vote: Chau, Beyond the Lines
It was between Shok and Stutterer for me. I voted for Shok because I feel like it captured something about war so poignantly — that someone would take a life over a bicycle. It really got me.
My vote: Shok