Brutally Honest Oscar Voter Ballot No. 5

A member of the Academy's writers branch tells THR: Amy Adams' "breasts hanging down in every single costume was ... distracting," Bruce Dern "was just standing around with his mouth open," almost snubbed "Her" out of "jealousy."
Warner Bros. Pictures

This is the fifth 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, the third and the fourth.) Beware of spoilers. And remember: 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 378-member writers branch who has won an Oscar himself.

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I just listed four: Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave and Her. Philomena is at the top of my list because it's the kind of film that I approve of: it's a film that depends on its emotional content, it's a simple film, it's a surprising film, it depends on a good script and it just hangs in there all the way right up until an ending that concludes the action emotionally. Dallas Buyers Club, which I loved for the same reasons, would have had my vote had I not seen Philomena the night before voting ended. 12 Years a Slave I ranked third only because I felt as if I had seen that film before. And then there's Her, which I suppose I could have ranked higher because I did enjoy it and really felt it was a superb job of filmmaking. The others all had things that bothered me about them. I didn't think that American Hustle held together. I did think that Wall Street is the first time in about 15 years that [Martin] Scorsese has shown some real energy and enjoyment in filmmaking; on the other hand, I thought it was repetitive and should have been 45 minutes shorter -- he was throwing in every little bit of shtick. And Gravity is kind of a stunt feature; there's no particular suspense about what's gonna happen.

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MY PICKS: (1) Philomena, (2) Dallas Buyers Club, (3) 12 Years a Slave, (4) Her


As a fan of Alexander Payne's, I was really disappointed in Nebraska. I couldn't vote for [Alfonso] Cuaron because I didn't like the way the big male movie star [a facetious reference to George Clooney] was used -- he seemed like a silly character to me -- and because it's very hard for me to separate, on a movie like that, directing from special effects. And then, in 12 Years As a Slave [sic], there were a lot of things to coordinate and he [Steve McQueen] did kind of a masterly job -- a masterly casting job, too!

MY PICK: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)


I've been a fan of Bruce Dern for years, but I thought Nebraska was just a big disappointment and that he was not nearly half as good as he was in Big Love; he was just standing around with his mouth open most of the time. Christian Bale was good, but the picture didn't make a lot of sense to me. Leo [DiCaprio] totally threw himself into Wolf and he seemed to be improvising at times -- very well -- but he was doing a role that he'd done before. I do love that actor from 12 Years a Slave, whose name I can't pronounce; I couldn't really fault him at all. So it came down to a choice between him and Matthew McConaughey, whose role really captivated me -- and who really impressed me in three different things this year.

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MY PICK: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)


I thought all along that I was gonna vote for Sandra Bullock. Of all the movie stars stranded in a non-rescue situation -- in other words, her, [Robert] Redford [in All Is Lost] and Tom Hanks [in Captain Phillips] -- she was the best, by far, and showed a fantastic range of emotion, and if she gets it I won't be disappointed. Amy Adams was good but not her best, and the device of having her breasts hanging down in every single costume was a little distracting, plus the movie just didn't do it for me. Cate Blanchett? God, she was fabulous -- except I thought the dice were stacked against the younger sister [Sally Hawkins], and sometimes I will not vote for an actor if the movie bothers me. Speaking of which, I didn't like the Meryl Streep movie [August: Osage County], and it was certainly not my favorite Meryl Streep performance. Philomena was the absolute last film I saw before voting, and I was totally amazed because it's a movie that seemed to be taking you in a tear-jerking, soap opera direction at almost every turn, and yet it never does; it turns away from sentimentality because her [Judi Dench's] character isn't having any of it.

MY PICK: Judi Dench (Philomena)

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This was easy. They were all good, but Jared Leto just did something that I'd never seen anybody do before. He played a character who was a transvestite but is not apologetic or self-conscious at all; he's a take-charge guy and, at the same time, he's proud of his femininity. It's bizarre, but he certainly holds your attention.

MY PICK: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)


I liked every single one of these. Sally Hawkins I just adore, but I thought the script sold her short and made her into more of a caricature than she had to be. The same thing with Jennifer Lawrence, whom I love and admire and voted for before; I didn't like the part she was playing and I thought it was much more limited than hers was last year. August: Osage County was just a filmed play and I didn't much like the play or Julia Roberts' character, but I thought she was excellent. I was tempted to vote for June Squibb, but she really just delivers a few good lines in that. But this woman in 12 Years a Slave made an impression that was immensely powerful -- I mean, just her face was something new in Hollywood and something astonishing to me in that movie. So I voted for her.

MY PICK: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)


This was easy. I voted for Philomena, which did a dance of revealing all these moments without becoming a soap opera -- you know, like when you find out that [her son] is dead, she just takes that right in stride. It's a pretty amazing movie because the man learns a lesson from her.

MY PICK: Philomena


I voted for Her. I almost didn't vote for it out of jealousy that he [Spike Jonze] is younger than me and writing the kind of movie that I would have liked to have written. One can admit petty motives as long as one does not have to explain to the multitudes, right?



I liked them all about the same, so I decided not to vote.

MY PICK: I abstain.


I did not have time to see all of the nominees, so I did not vote.

MY PICK: I abstain.

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They are all terrific movies except for the one that everybody says is gonna win, the Italian one [The Great Beauty], which I've seen so many times before -- it's like a poor man's La Dolce Vita. The Hunt is very important and touching, but I felt like I've seen it before. Omar was a bit frustrating for me. Broken Circle Brokedown [sic] I've already recommended to a friend -- it's an imperfect movie, but it's tremendously passionate and powerful, and imagine, a Belgian bluegrass worshipper! The woman was really good, too; it's one of the surprises of the movie when she starts singing, and the whole thing about the daughter was tremendously moving, too. I did not vote for it, however. In the end, I went for the Cambodian movie because I thought it was an incredibly original, powerful movie about a subject that is very hard to talk about and we shouldn't ever forget.

MY PICK: The Missing Picture


The ones I would have voted for weren't nominated -- 12 Years a Slave, Her, Philomena and Dallas Buyers Club -- so I didn't vote.

MY PICK: I abstain.


The costumes of 12 Years a Slave stick out the most in my memory.

MY PICK: 12 Years a Slave


I chose Dallas Buyers Club over the others because I felt the film held together better in its pacing and because I liked it the best of the films that were nominated.

MY PICK: Dallas Buyers Club


There was some obviously creative makeup and hairstyling in Dallas Buyers Club, which was also the best film of the lot.

MY PICK: Dallas Buyers Club


I remembered the score of Gravity and did not remember the scores of the others, so that told me something.

MY PICK: Gravity


I didn't hear all of the songs.

MY PICK: I abstained.


I voted for Her and I was regretful that I didn't get to vote for Her in more categories because I thought that was a very original film.




The sounds of Gravity enhanced my enjoyment of it more than the other ones, which really weren't that memorable to me.

MY PICK (for both): Gravity


Gravity had fantastic visual effects, like the one where she flies and bounces around inside the cockpit -- I wondered how the hell they did that.

MY PICK: Gravity




I didn't see them in time to vote. I would have voted for the one with the dying kid and the janitor [Helium]. They were all pretty good, but I was a little disappointed in the endings of the others, and I was touched by the little boy.

MY PICK: I abstain.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg