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This ballot reflects the Oscar votes — and candid rationales for them — of a male member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 648-person producers branch, as communicated to THR in return for a guarantee of anonymity. THR neither endorses these views nor suggests that they are representative of anything other than this voter’s perspective.
I’ve got to tell you, Emily the Criminal was the film that gave me the biggest rush all year; it was never going to compete in this category — it’s too small — but it deserved to. I hated the one that’s going to win, Everything Everywhere All at Once. I’ve had many friends say “It’s a stoner movie!” Well, I’m a stoner, and I couldn’t enjoy it. I had to start it four times; the fourth time, I finally made it through the whole thing. It’s just so nonsensical and convoluted. I heard somebody in an interview call it “a lesbian Fantasia” — where the fuck does that come from? There was only one thing I enjoyed in the movie, and that was Jamie Lee Curtis. Tár was over-amped and rang untrue to me; I don’t believe that directors of orchestras are chartering private jets to fly back and forth like that. It was like a female version of No Country for Old Men — the whole movie made me feel miserable. I wasn’t into the first Avatar, and I wasn’t into this one [Avatar: The Way of Water]. Women Talking? God damn. It should have just been a play. I couldn’t get into it. It felt like homework. The third act of The Banshees of Inisherin lost me. I liked The Fabelmans — she [Michelle Williams’ character] reminded me of my mother. I really enjoyed Top Gun [Maverick] — it was entertaining, it was big, and it was exactly what I expected. Triangle of Sadness was great — I loved the first 90 percent of it, but I have to admit I was getting a little bored by the end. All Quiet on the Western Front was one of the most powerful antiwar movies I’ve ever seen. But Elvis was my favorite — I saw it twice. The actor [Austin Butler] was transformative, the movie looked beautiful, there’s so much good music in it, and I could go on. The only weak part of the movie was Tom Hanks, and I was a little more forgiving of his performance on my second viewing. Baz [Luhrmann] is just so good with this type of material. If he had done Babylon, it might have been a good movie.
VOTE: (1) Elvis (2) All Quiet on the Western Front (3) Triangle of Sadness (4) Top Gun: Maverick (5) The Fabelmans (6) The Banshees of Inisherin (7) Women Talking (8) Avatar: The Way of Water (9) Tár (10) Everything Everywhere All at Once
Baz deserved a nomination. Like I said, I didn’t like Everything Everywhere or Tár, so I wasn’t going to be voting for their directors. Banshees wasn’t badly directed, but there was also nothing spectacular about the way it was directed. [The Fabelmans’ Steven] Spielberg is, obviously, a fantastic director, but his style is just a little more schmaltzy than I usually go for. Of the movies in this category, the only one that I loved was Triangle of Sadness.
VOTE: Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness
Paul Mescal and Colin Farrell gave very good performances in Aftersun and Banshees, but are they Oscar-worthy? [The Whale’s] Brendan Fraser has never been better, but the movie was painful to watch in terms of both subject matter and length. I’ve loved [Living’s] Bill Nighy forever — he’s a great guy, and he was so subtle in his performance. But the best was clearly Austin [Butler of Elvis]. He does need to lose the Elvis accent, though.
VOTE: Austin Butler, Elvis
How can I vote for [Everything Everywhere’s] Michelle Yeoh when the movie didn’t make sense to me? Cate Blanchett [of Tár] and Michelle Williams [of The Fabelmans] were good but a little irritating. [Blonde’s] Ana de Armas gave a performance that was worthy of an Oscar, but I disliked her movie so much that I couldn’t pull the trigger. So, I’m voting for Andrea Riseborough — and I didn’t get a fucking tweet or anything! I just watched the movie, well before the nominations, and she was incredible.
VOTE: Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Judd Hirsch [of The Fabelmans] felt undirected, like he was just invited to run wild. [Everything Everywhere’s] Ke Huy Quan, [Banshees’] Barry Keoghan and [Banshees’] Brendan Gleeson were all fine. But Brian Tyree Henry, who I’d never seen before in anything, was completely real in Causeway — I totally believed his pain and never for a second thought I was watching an actor — and he and Jennifer Lawrence, who’s a great actress, were just terrific together.
VOTE: Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Whale should have stayed a play; I just got tired of Hong Chau coming and going. Kerry Condon [in Banshees] did nothing special. Angela Bassett is a great actress, there’s no denying that — she’s a goddess, in her own way — but I didn’t enjoy [Black Panther:] Wakanda Forever. Stephanie Hsu was fine [in Everything Everywhere], but the only thing I really liked about the whole movie was Jamie Lee [Curtis]. I can’t even say I’m generally a fan of hers, but in this role she let herself go and was funny. She was the best of a so-so bunch.
VOTE: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — is this what movies are going to become? Just episodic feature filmmaking with a bunch of stars? I hope not, but I think this is basically the Netflix prototype going forward. Women Talking — eh. Top Gun was a lot of fun. We’ve seen All Quiet before, although I guess this was the first German version. But I voted for Living. I liked what everybody else probably disliked about it: it’s old-fashioned, like a Merchant-Ivory movie from 30 years ago.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Forget about Everything Everywhere because it made no sense to me. Tár didn’t do a lot for me either. Banshees and Fabelmans were good scripts from great writers, [Fabelmans co-writer] Tony Kushner in particular. But no question, I’m voting for Triangle of Sadness. It was original and outrageous, and I’m sure some people think it’s as silly as I think Everything Everywhere is, but there you go.
VOTE: Triangle of Sadness
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
I watched at least part of all of them — a couple of them in their entirety — and I didn’t really give a shit about any of them. My favorite animated film of the year, Luck, didn’t even get nominated.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
I could not make it through A House Made of Splinters — it just didn’t hold my attention. I was moved by All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Navalny was really good. I really liked the one about the birds [All That Breathes] and was very interested to learn about the making of it from an interview I heard on KCRW. But Fire of Love was my favorite. I mean, you knew the minute you turned it on what was going to happen, but the absurdity and the insanity of what this couple did was fascinating.
VOTE: Fire of Love
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
I liked [Poland’s] EO and [Argentina’s] Argentina, 1985 quite a lot. I’m sure that [Germany’s] All Quiet is going to win. But I preferred a different Quiet: [Ireland’s] The Quiet Girl was my favorite film of the year. I was smitten with everything about it. It floored me. I don’t cry in many movies, but this movie got me both times I watched it.
VOTE: The Quiet Girl
I obviously liked Elvis overall, but I felt like its cinematography was a bit TV-like. Empire of Light and All Quiet were more impressively shot. I’m going to surprise you: I ended up voting for Bardo. I was told it was really boring, but I put it on and I liked it, especially the look of it. The cinematography complemented the story perfectly. There were some really great shots, like the pile of bodies and out in the desert.
VOTE: Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
I’m going to surprise you again: I voted for Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. What a charming little fucking movie. It’s just a simple movie about a woman who uses her life savings to get a couture Dior dress. I appreciated the clothes and that whole world.
VOTE: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
BEST FILM EDITING
Tár? They should have started by cutting about 35 or 40 minutes out of that one. I don’t blame the editor for Everything Everywhere, but I can’t vote for him either. Banshees and Top Gun were good. But with Elvis, the editing and the music were so in sync that it helped to make the movie, which was long but didn’t feel long.
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
I feel kind of guilty not voting for The Whale — the fat suit was disgustingly impressive. But I just liked the period hair and everything in Elvis.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
I was all set to vote for Babylon — didn’t like the movie, but liked the score. But oh man, as soon as you heard that pipe instrument in All Quiet, you knew some shit was about to go down. That sound just haunted me.
VOTE: All Quiet on the Western Front
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
I liked the song from RRR [“Naatu Naatu”] a lot — the song is great, the dancing was great, and the way they kept reprising it was great. I’m frankly surprised that RRR didn’t get more attention in other categories. I also liked “This Is a Life” [from Everything Everywhere], largely because David Byrne was involved with it. But none of the other songs stood out to me.
VOTE: “Naatu Naatu” (RRR)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Everything about Avatar was so artificial and cartoony — animators should get awards for it, not production designers. The production designs of The Fabelmans and All Quiet were fine. Even though I really disliked Babylon, it looked pretty cool. But I voted for Elvis. I’m old enough to remember Vegas when Elvis was singing there, and when the story was taking place in Vegas it felt like they were in Vegas. Graceland looked a lot like Graceland, even though they didn’t even shoot it in the United States. And his hotel suite felt just right, with a certain decadent lushness at first, but then it got darker as time went on. It all worked for me.
I was tempted to vote for Top Gun — I mean, just think about the planes and the munitions and everything else — but I liked Elvis so much that I wanted to vote for it here too. Think about the music and the crowd scenes.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
I didn’t like that I could notice effects in All Quiet. The effects in Top Gun were pretty fucking seamless.
VOTE: Top Gun: Maverick
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
I can barely remember An Ostrich Told Me [the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It] or The Flying Sailor. My Year of Dicks was hilarious, but the animation wasn’t my favorite. I was torn between The Ice Merchants, which is weird but interesting enough that I watched it three times, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I guess I preferred the sort of classic, Beatrix Potter-like look of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. It’s a sweet little movie.
VOTE: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Netflix has really fucked up the documentary world by making all documentaries look alike — just super sanitized, with talking heads interviewed in a cool-looking space that may or may not actually be the person’s own living room [and] occasional cuts to whatever photos or video footage they have — which was part of my problem with Stranger at the Gate. I didn’t particularly like The Martha Mitchell Effect either. I get it that she was a character, but whatever. I can barely even remember Hallout, except that I felt for the filmmaker who had to go out to Siberia or wherever to make it. The Elephant Whisperer was really touching, but not as much as How Do You Measure a Year? I loved watching the guy’s daughter go from being this innocent little girl to a pouty little teenager to then being grateful and telling her dad how much she loved him. It really got me.
VOTE: How Do You Measure a Year?
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
I didn’t enjoy Ivalu or An Irish Goodbye. Le Pupille was lovely, but it felt like everything was a little too perfect and polished. The Red Suitcase was very good, and I almost voted for it, but Night Ride was more up my alley — it felt like an independent film, and as a guy who doesn’t necessarily prefer topical things, I appreciated that it covered an “important” topic without trying to “teach” me.
VOTE: Night Ride
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