Every year, I say this and this year is no different: I love the Hollywood Reporter’s Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot series. Every year, someone from THR sits down with an Oscar voter who remains anonymous – THR will note their sex and which branch they belong to and that’s it – and the people allow THR to publish their unfiltered thoughts as they talk while they fill out their Oscar ballots. I always learn so much about the various guilds and what the “consensus” views are on certain films or actors, and there’s always a ton of shady sh-t and gossip in these pieces. Sometimes, the anonymous voters comes across like total a–holes, and you can clearly see why the Academy ends up rewarding a dumb performance like Gary Oldman’s terrible Churchill drag – because almost all of these voters are terrible old farts who vote for their equally terrible “friends.” Ballot #1 comes from a man who belongs to the Directors Guild. He had a lot of thoughts. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
He isn’t even going to watch the hostless Oscars this year: “I’m not going to watch the Oscars this year. I’m just anticipating a very boring show. One of the best things about the show is the opening monologue, which is usually pretty good — it’s what happens after that that’s not great.”
On Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born: “[They] are films whose adulation I can’t even begin to fathom — I found them to be ordinary. Bohemian Rhapsody is a standard-issue biopic with a really nice last 10 minutes; had it been a great film, I probably still wouldn’t have voted for it, because I don’t want to do anything to reward Bryan Singer, who is a pariah now and needs to stay that way. A Star Is Born is a fourth remake with nothing new to say — it was massively overhyped.
Roma is indulgent: “It’s beautifully crafted and looks fantastic, but ultimately, I was wondering where the entertainment or even intellectual value is in this movie. To me, it’s a very slow and rather indulgent film — the most expensive home movie ever made…”
His top three films: “No. 3 is Black Panther. Look, it’s a Marvel comic book movie, and it’s not much better than any of the others, but you have to applaud it for its massive social impact and the pride it has given to so many people. I know that’s not a reason to vote for a movie, so that’s why it’s in third place rather than second or first. For those spots, I was torn between The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman. The Favourite is an unbelievably delicious film, and I was completely entertained from beginning to end — its humor and sexuality turned me on. It’s a better movie than BlacKkKlansman, but I have no idea what it was trying to say. I prefer to reward a movie that is solid and has something of social importance to say, like BlacKkKlansman. The Charlottesville footage at the end of it sealed the deal for me — it reminds us that things really haven’t gotten better.
This guy is all in on Spike Lee: “Everyone expects [Roma’s Alfonso] Cuarón to win, and that’s likely to happen because people have an appreciation for the sweat and emotional equity that he put into this film. But the greatest wrong in the history of the Oscars was Spike Lee not being nominated for Do the Right Thing, and BlacKkKlansman is like the other end of Do the Right Thing. I’ve admired this guy’s work so much over the years. Until now, the Academy has almost completely ignored this genius, and it’s about f–king time to correct that. I don’t know that it’s the best directing job of the year — I think that [The Favourite’s] Yorgos Lanthimos’ decisions were more creative, interesting and daring — but I don’t know that I’ll have another opportunity to vote for Spike, so I’m going to take this one.
He’s voting for Christian Bale for Best Actor: “… Bradley Cooper is doing an impersonation of either Kris Kristofferson or Sam Elliott, I can’t quite figure it out, but I’m just not a fan of A Star Is Born. There’s a general feeling that some people have it all, and you don’t want to give them more, and that is going to affect Bradley Cooper for a long time, just like it affected Leo DiCaprio… [Bohemian Rhapsody’s] Rami Malek is going to win — everywhere I’ve gone, Rami Malek was there; he’s a very charming fellow. I’ve now spent more time with him than I have with my dog. I’ve not seen [Vice’s] Christian Bale anywhere, but that is the performance of the year. His playing Dick Cheney, it’s not just an impersonation; it’s a channeling. If you dumped Dick Cheney into the movie, you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. I think he reached into this guy’s humanity, or lack thereof.
He’s voting for Olivia Colman for Best Actress: “I’m going to tell you something that’s going to shock you: Many people vote for their friends. I have worked with [The Favourite’s] Olivia Colman and had a wonderful experience with her — I remember saying to her, “At some point, you’re going to be up on a stage accepting an Academy Award,” and I want to help make that happen…. I just don’t see it with [A Star Is Born’s] Lady Gaga — I mean, she shines like a goddess when she’s onstage and singing, but I don’t think I bought her in a single moment beyond that. Glenn Close is fantastic in The Wife, and I think she’s going to win easily — I personally don’t know anybody who’s not voting for her.
In the supporting categories, he goes with Emma Stone and Richard E. Grant. He notes that he thinks Regina King is one of the best actresses out there, but he just didn’t think her performance in Beale Street was all that. I sort of agree with his take on Richard E. Grant though – he makes a good case for why Mahershala Ali shouldn’t win and why Richard E. Grant is more deserving because he was truly playing a supporting role. And I would love it if Christian Bale ended up winning Best Actor, but I do think it’s going to Rami. Also: I would LOVE it if Spike Lee won Best Director.
Photos courtesy of IMDB.