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This is the fourth of five “brutally honest” Oscar ballots shared with THR by Academy members, one of which will post each day leading up to the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, March 2. (Also available for you to review: the first, the second and the third.) Needless to say, these voters’ views are not necessarily endorsed by Scott Feinberg or THR.
VOTER PROFILE: This Oscar voter is a longtime member of the Academy’s 377-member public relations branch.
? BEST PICTURE
I voted for Gravity and then 12 Years a Slave. Honestly, I really went back and forth thinking about it. The truth is I only watched about half of 12 Years a Slave; I couldn’t take it. It made me sick to my stomach and I just thought, “OK, I know slavery was terrible, and this is an important movie and I get all that,” but I was bored with how long it was taking. Frankly, if they had had the awards the week after the nominations, I would have voted for it. But when it came time to fill it out I thought, “You know, Gravity was pretty much a perfect movie experience. It had really good performances from really good movie stars, it was thrilling and emotional and I cried — and it was only 90 minutes!” Plus I really like Alfonso Cuaron. And I remembered the experience of seeing the movie. I almost wish Gravity [meaning Warner Bros.] had not sent out screeners. The screeners cannot have helped Gravity. Anyway, then there was Captain Phillips — I thought it was a great movie. The one that I wanted to love the most but did not was American Hustle. I loved [David O. Russell‘s last movie] Silver Linings Playbook — it was one of my favorite movies of last year — but I didn’t get this one, and one minute after I got up out of my seat at the theater it had left me.
MY PICKS: (1) Gravity, (2) 12 Years a Slave, (3) Captain Phillips, (4) The Wolf of Wall Street, (5) Philomena, (6) American Hustle, (7) Her, (8) Dallas Buyers Club, (9) Nebraska
? BEST DIRECTOR
The first I can rule out is Alexander Payne; it’s not The Descendants, for me. [Martin] Scorsese is the next to go; I didn’t find it offensive, but what bothered me was how repetitive it was — it could have been an hour shorter. Still, I think the fact that Marty is whatever he is — around 70 — and he made a movie like that is unbelievable. The next out is Russell. And [Steve] McQueen — I don’t know how to say this — he never made me want to vote for him. I thought he came off as pretentious and affected and rude. I just thought, “Oh, man, I wish somebody loved me as much as you love you.” It was always gonna be Cuaron. It’s a directorial achievement. It’s an amazing piece of directing. And it was a risk. And I like him — he’s got a really interesting body of work. He’s somebody you want to do things for and with.
MY PICK: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
? BEST ACTOR
Bruce Dern impressed me the least — I just think Bruce Dern is doing Bruce Dern, a cranky old man playing a cranky old man. Chiwetel Ejiofor gave an amazing performance. Christian Bale? I love him and he’s consistently great, but just because he’s wearing a bad hairpiece and is fat doesn’t blow me away. I chose [Leonardo] DiCaprio over [Matthew] McConaughey. I thought he was a-mazing, and I think he’s given a ton of amazing performances in both good and bad movies — even in terrible movies, Leonardo DiCaprio is interesting, at the very least. To hold my interest for three hours of basically the same thing — drugs and drinking, more drugs and drinking, I get it — was amazing. You couldn’t take your eyes off of him. And I know this sounds terrible, but I really thought, when I was watching Dallas Buyers Club, that I was watching a movie from 20 years ago — we already gave Tom Hanks the Oscar for this [for his performance in Philadelphia]. Men who lose a lot of weight and look bad — it’s like pretty women who play ugly — you can’t lose. And I like Matthew McConaughey, and I am watching with interest how he has shifted his career, but I thought it was a little bit of an HBO movie. He’s better in True Detective.
MY PICK: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
? BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams is great in everything she does, but this was over in July [when Blue Jasmine, which stars Cate Blanchett, was released]. As far as I’m concerned, they should have saved time on the other award shows and spared everyone else the anguish of going to millions of dinners and sitting there knowing they don’t have the slightest chance of winning. I mean, the idea of getting into hair and makeup and Spanx for all of those dinners, when they’re just gonna call her name off, and rightfully so, seems inhumane.
MY PICK: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
? BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Forget about everybody except Jonah Hill and Jared Leto. Leto gives a classic Oscar role: “I have AIDS and I’m a drag queen.” Like, it doesn’t get bigger than that, in terms of Oscar bait. He could have gotten nominated with just one of the above! I’m trying to think if there could have been one more thing? A Jew! A Jew, during World War II, who is sick and a transvestite — that would have been a trifecta. Seriously, though, there was no way he wasn’t gonna get nominated ever. As for Jonah Hill, he’s absolutely hilarious. It’s the definition of a supporting performance — he’s incredibly memorable, he’s very good and he is a big thing that you take away from the movie. And it’s very subtle — the gay thing, for instance — but you get it. I just thought he did a great job.
MY PICK: Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
? BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
I eliminated everybody but the one from 12 Years a Slave [Lupita Nyong’o] and Jennifer Lawrence. I didn’t vote for Jennifer Lawrence, even though I thought she was very entertaining in the movie, because (a) she just won last year, and (b) we can’t give everything to Jennifer Lawrence when she’s 22 years old because Jennifer Lawrence will be institutionalized. She will have gotten too much, too soon, too early, and she’ll lose her mind. I also didn’t think she gave the better performance. I kinda thought the parts of the two women in American Hustle should have been reversed. As for Lupita, it’s a great performance — and she has handled herself impeccably. She has acted like a movie star: she looks great, she is grateful, there’s no pictures of her drunk at some party. She’s played her part well and she gives an amazing performance.
MY PICK: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
? BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
This is an interesting category. You can’t rule out Before Midnight because Richard Linklater‘s a likable guy. Wolf of Wall Street is a good adaptation, but it’s three hours long; you shouldn’t be able to read the book in the same amount of time the movie takes. That leaves 12 Years, Captain Phillips and Philomena. I voted for Philomena only because the movie was so emotional for me and because I thought, “Wow, to take this story and figure out how to make a movie like this must have been quite a task.” I probably would have voted for Captain Phillips next because I know a lot of people who were involved with that film.
MY PICK: Philomena
? BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
It’ll go to Her because this is where you give an award to the quirky movie that everybody wants people to know that they appreciated. And I concur with that. I don’t want anybody, though, to come to any conclusion, when Woody Allen does not win for Blue Jasmine — my runner-up — that it had anything to do with the horribleness of dragging him through everything he’s had to deal with over the last few weeks. There was a minute there that I actually thought, “Harvey [Weinstein] really will stop at nothing,” because if Blanchett was out, Judi Dench was the next one up. The whole thing is so suspect to me.
MY PICK: Her
? BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
I voted for Frozen and none of the others were even in the discussion. Honestly, if they did not have the animated category, Frozen would have easily gotten a best picture nomination. It just delivered.
MY PICK: Frozen
? BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
I watched The Square, Twenty Feet From Stardom and The Act of Killing. I don’t know how the average Academy member is supposed to gauge what makes a great documentary: is it “touches on issues that are relevant to our time,” or “it did big business and has been seen by more people,” or something else? I voted for Twenty Feet From Stardom because I found it the most entertaining, but I think The Square is the more important movie.
MY PICK: Twenty Feet From Stardom
? BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
I thought The Great Beauty was an amazing movie. I liked everything about it. I really thought it was one of the best movies of the year. It reminded me of the days of Cinema Paradiso and those kind of movies. I thought it was great.
MY PICK: The Great Beauty
? BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
I thought Llewyn Davis had amazing cinematography which stayed with me the longest of all the nominees. I don’t know what’s cinematography and what’s not in Gravity. And Nebraska, to me, looked like somebody had watched Paper Moon a bunch of times and then went and shot the movie; I appreciated it, but I’ve seen black-and-white cinematography like this done before and better. It made me miss Gordon Willis; I watched it and I thought, “Wow, I wish Gordon Willis had been alive to shoot this.” [Fortunately, Willis is still alive — he’s now 82 and living in Cape Cod.]
MY PICK: Inside Llewyn Davis
? BEST COSTUME DESIGN
I voted for 12 Years a Slave because I thought the costumes do not intrude into the movie. They’re realistic without being, “Look at me!”
MY PICK: 12 Years a Slave
? BEST FILM EDITING
I voted for Captain Phillips because I thought it was incredibly well edited. I thought it was as gripping a movie experience as I’ve had. I really thought it delivered on that level. I literally felt anxious the whole time I was watching the movie, in a good way. And the jumpy camera did not make me sick to my stomach, which it sometimes does. 12 Years was my runner-up.
MY PICK: Captain Phillips
? BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
I voted for Dallas Buyers Club, but — I want to specify — not for Matthew McConaughey’s makeup. It’s AIDS, I get it, it’s bad, you lose weight and you look gaunt. But I thought the Jared Leto stuff was amazing. He doesn’t look like a girl at all in life, but I did fall into the movie and believe him in that role. And, by the way, if he’d had bad hair and makeup, he would not be nominated — it’s so intrinsic to his performance. That’s gonna make somebody’s career.
MY PICK: Dallas Buyers Club
? BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
I voted for Philomena. I thought it was a really nice score and not too over the top. I was bawling like a baby watching that movie, but the movie didn’t push on that. They could have done a really over the top, wring-every-tear-out-of-you kind of score, but instead it was really subtle and really good.
MY PICK: Philomena
? BEST ORIGINAL SONG
I voted for “Let It Go” — I loved the song and I’m certain it’s gonna win. The song is such a traditional Broadway-slash-Disney animated musical song, and you haven’t heard one of those like this in a while. When you have videos of small children and Marines doing sing-alongs to your song, it’s over. I get the whole Bono-Africa thing, but it’s not as fun.
MY PICK: “Let It Go” (Frozen)
? BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
I thought the production design was the only worthwhile thing about the movie. Baz Luhrmann‘s wife is stylish — it looked like a major job of production design. American Hustle just looked, to me, like they went and grabbed all the sets from Boogie Nights and put them in their movie. Or Argo — “Oh, here’s the lamp from Argo!” Eyes of Laura Mars — that’s what it looked like. And there’s no production design in Gravity, I’m sorry — she’s in a capsule for most of it, and I’m sure it was realistic and authentic, but that is not “production design” to me. That’s one set.
MY PICK: The Great Gatsby
? BEST SOUND EDITING
? BEST SOUND MIXING
I don’t vote. I have no expertise in the field, so I would be voting completely out of ignorance, and I don’t like to vote out of ignorance. What do I know about what makes a movie sound well-mixed?
MY PICK (for both): I abstain.
? BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
I voted for Gravity because the whole movie is a special effect, so I thought this was a pretty easy one. The only special effect of Lone Ranger was how they made $250 million disappear.
MY PICK: Gravity
? BEST ANIMATED SHORT
? BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
? BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
I got that coffin of a box from the Academy [with DVDs of the shorts in it], and the discs started falling out and I just said, “Screw it. Life’s too short.” I thought [sending them to us] was a nice thing to do, though.
MY PICK: I abstain.
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