Ah, the return of the Hollywood Reporter’s Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot, here we go. Voting just ended for the Oscars, so THR will publish, on average, about three or four “Oscar Ballot” stories, where Oscar voters talk to Scott Feinberg about why they’re voting a certain way. The first ballot this year is pretty bonkers – this guy is a member of “867-person short films and feature animation branch,” and while he loves Everything Everywhere All At Once, the rest of his opinions are… pretty noteworthy. Some highlights:
His thoughts on Best Picture: “Women Talking was not bad — the acting and directing were really good — but I didn’t love it. I enjoyed The Fabelmans — [Steven] Spielberg did his Spielberg thing and directed the hell out of it — but it was a little long. Triangle of Sadness was so funny and well-written, and I love its commentary about class — the best since Parasite.”
On Tar & Top Gun: “Cate [Blanchett] was absolutely incredible in Tár, but the movie takes too long to get to its point. Top Gun [Maverick] was a fantastic thrill ride and it got people back into movie theaters and I’m glad it’s nominated — popularity is not a bad thing — but the story is pretty simple and straightforward, and I was weirded out by the faceless-enemy aspect of it. The Scientology thing [producer/star Tom Cruise’s affiliation with the church], on the other hand, doesn’t really bother me — punishing the movie is not going to make Tom Cruise leave Scientology.
He loved Elvis: “Austin [Butler] was so mind-blowing in Elvis that I watched it multiple times; the movie was fun, but it’s all about the performance. Banshees was so good, with a really funny and concise script. But for me, it’s a very close call between All Quiet on the Western Front and Everything Everywhere All at Once. They’re so different, but the execution of what they were trying to do is near perfect. All Quiet is one of the best antiwar movies ever made. It made me feel the dirtiness and grittiness and nastiness of war in a way that most movies don’t; it really put you in the f–king trenches. And Everything Everywhere is, to me, as a filmmaker, one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. For someone to make a movie with a nearly all-Asian cast and tell this crazy, mind-bending, time-jumping story? It makes me believe that it’s possible to not have an Avatar-sized budget and not be Baz Luhrmann or Steven Spielberg and still make something that’s personal and cultural and can still be thought of as a potential best picture Oscar winner.
Best Director: “Tár [directed by Todd Field] is more about the performance than the directing and Banshees [directed by Martin McDonagh] is more about the writing than the directing. Ruben [Östlund] put a real stamp on Triangle. Steven did an amazing job with The Fabelmans, and it’s cool that it’s such a personal story. But what the Daniels [Everything Everywhere’s Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert] did across the board, with limited resources, was really remarkable. VOTE: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Actor: “Paul Mescal [of Aftersun] is out immediately — he’s a great actor, but I’m confused about all the excitement over that movie. Bill Nighy is so great in Living and Colin [Farrell] is so great in Banshees. After I saw The Whale, Brendan Fraser being my choice. And then I sat down and watched Elvis, and I was so blown away by Austin Butler’s performance that I watched Elvis again that same week. He’s the clear winner, to me. And if you’re going to give Rami Malek an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, when he wasn’t even singing, then you can’t not give it to Austin. This kid literally got a new voice! VOTE: Austin Butler, Elvis
Why he voted for Michelle Yeoh: “I would’ve definitely put Danielle Deadwyler [for Till] above Michelle Williams [for The Fabelmans] or Ana de Armas [for Blonde] — it felt like nobody cared about Blonde after it came out, so I was really surprised that she got nominated. I’d heard about Andrea Riseborough and To Leslie before the nominations, only because I kept seeing Academy members who were in that little camp posting about it on social media. That didn’t bother me at the time because it felt like it was going nowhere. Then when she got nominated, I thought about it some more. The performance is great — not the greatest of all time, as Kate Winslet lied to me, but great — but the way she was sort of muscled-in felt very Mafia-ish, like the people with the power decided that this should happen, so it did. For me, it was really close between [Tár’s] Cate [Blanchett] and [Everything Everywhere All at Once’s] Michelle [Yeoh]. Cate gets lost in Lydia Tár — it’s such an incredible performance — but to see what Michelle, a woman who’s so overdue, did in her movie, with the action and the fighting and the emotion? I had to pick Michelle. Tie goes to the person who hasn’t won over the person who already has two.
Best Supporting Actress: “Kerry [Condon of The Banshees of Inisherin] and Hong Chau [of The Whale] were fine. I think Jamie Lee Curtis could win for Everything Everywhere — she’s been a part of Hollywood since she was a child — even though Stephanie Hsu was better in the movie. But I’m hoping that the Academy stops treating Marvel movies like second-class citizens and recognizes that Angela’s [Bassett of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever] performance is great — she performed the f–k out of that role — and that, considering her body of work too, she’s long overdue.
Personally, I think people will vote for Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett for the same reason: they’ve been working forever, it’s not solely about this one singular performance but their body of work, and they both deserve it. And that’s fine, I agree, they’re both amazing women who deserve everything. But I’m irritated that this guy dismisses Tar as an overlong slog which is solely about Cate’s performance and then… doesn’t vote for Cate’s performance?? Like, Tar is the masterpiece here, it’s the film – this year – which people are going to be like “why didn’t that sweep the Oscars?” in ten, twenty years. His talk about Andrea Riseborough, Danielle Deadwyler, Ana de Armas and Michelle Williams is funny though – I agree that Ana and Andrea shouldn’t have been nominated, although I loved Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans. And truly, I will burn it all down if Austin F–king Butler wins the Oscar. What is it with rewarding these dumb f–king musical bio-pics?
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, Backgrid, promotional images from Tar, EEAAO, Elvis and To Leslie.
I thought Tar was very much “Cate Blanchett plays herself”, with her big theater voice in every scene (even ones that should be quieter) and her face tipped to the light source. It was exactly what I expected to see when I first heard about the movie, whereas Michelle Yeoh’s performance surprised me.
Agreed. I love Cate and I like Tar but I do not understand the hype. Of the five nominated, Michelle deserves it the most. Although Danielle Deadwyler’s performance in Till was the best of the year and she should be getting the Oscar.
I agree totally about Cate and Tar. I loved it. Great performance. But didn’t seem to be the surprise or stretch that we saw from Yeoh. And am I the only person who doesn’t hate Austin Butler? I thought he was great. If Blanchett “lost herself” in the character then he certainly did too.
He’s kinda right though. You gave it to rami Malik for bohemian rhapsody’ and not Austin butler? They have to start making sense. I don’t agree with the give it to them for their body of work idea either. It is supposed to be for the best performance THIS YEAR. If it so happens random people just get one award their whole life and someone like Michelle yeoh never gets it is the roll of the dice of the academy awards. Not that I don’t think Michelle Yeoh should get it she should but because it wasn’t an outstanding year. But not because of her body of work it’s because of that individual performance she gave.
I love AB, and his performance in Elvis was incredible.
I love Austin Butler’s performance, a masterpiece. This is one of the few times I disagree w Celebitchy. Surprising. Love Michelle Yeoh too. Hope they both win!
I am also hoping Tár and Cate aren’t it. Mostly because it would be her third, but also because it felt so Oscar-y to me. I feel like misery is weighted so heavily and I wish it weren’t. Still salty about Sam Rockwell / Three Billboards beating Willem Dafoe / Florida Project.
Sam Rockwell was the male lead! He had several scenes without McDormand that drove the plot forward, and his character had more of a developmental arc than hers. Obviously, I’m still salty too.
Absolutely. And the movie itself is a pretentious mess that made me angry, to be honest. the classical music part was painfully snobbish, with pointless throwing around big names, yet (i’m a classically trained musician) shallow and improbable ( Lydia starts her career by conducting five biggest orchestras in US to become the principal conductor in Berlin? in what world? and her “conducting” in the movie is borderline cringeworthy. it take them too long to get to the point. Plus, it’s a passive-aggressive take on me too movement that simplifies it. Cate is fine in it, but she shouldn’t win.
Having the conductor being painfully pretentious and always on an imaginary high horse is needed to create Cate as a villain who needs to fall from grace. 💯 improbable because women conductors are such a rare occurence.
Thank you both, I have been saying that forever. I feel a bit bad because a friend of a friend was apparently the person who taught CB to look like she was conducting, but you just can’t fake that kind of muscle memory. The thing about Tar is that you can’t just make a woman’s character do what men have been doing forever and make it realistic – there’s a reason why there are so few women conductors, and it’s not because the few that there are are monsters.
Michelle Yeoh all the way. I will be mightily unhappy if she doesn’t win.
I’m rooting for Angela Bassett too, but I wouldn’t be peeved if Jaimie Lee Curtis wins.
I’m rooting for Everything, Everywhere, All At Once too. It was a different film experience and I remember liking it.
Exactly, Cate has limited emotional range.
I don’t think they should be able to vote on categories when they haven’t seen all the films. How could you skip Marcel the Shell with Shoes on? My favorite movie of the year.
I love Marcel the Shell with Shoes On!!!!
Marcel was such a cute film!
Colin Farrell and Michelle Youh would get my vote. Every All at Once deserves for best director. His reasons were valid. What impressed me most about this interview was that the guy actually saw the movies and performances. I’ve always felt like so many voters haven’t put the work in. My cousin gets to vote (I forget which categories) because her son did a skateboarding documentary and is somehow an Academy member. He has always given her his ballot because he doesnt care.
Minding the Gap? Love that movie.
I was also thrilled that this person had seen so many movies and had an opinion. It helped that the opinion mostly aligned with mine! But I’m also with the person that wants supporting actress award to go to Angela Basset on the merit of her performance in this movie and not just because of her total career / it’s her time etc. I like Jamie Lee Curtís a lot but I didn’t think her role was significant enough for an Oscar. If they had more time in the hot dog world, maybe because that was a nice contrasting space and when I see slow motion clips I’m impressed with the emotions & connections between the two actors.
And Michelle Yeoh all the way. She centered that movie and made something very specific also very relatable.
Didn’t think Angela Bassett’s performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever warranted a nomination. If any one actor’s performance stood out for me it was Leticia Wright. I know she’s controversial, but she should have been nominated. I’m laughing at Kaiser’s comment on musical bio-pics, because I came to here to say if anything Bassett was ROBBED of the Best Actress Oscar for What’s Love Got to Do With It? NOW THAT was a tour de force performance of one hell of a rockstar. She should have won for that. She should have WON!!! Ok, rant over. I love Bassett — she constantly delivers as an actress. I don’t agree with her getting nominated for this particular role, but she’s long overdue for an Oscar for her body of work.
Nominating leticia would be giving broad acceptance to her dangerous opinions. She did it to herself by opening her mouth and spouting uneducated opinions in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
You mean like they’ve done with Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and tons of other white dudes? Hollywood loves to pick and choose when to take the moral high ground. Leticia’s performance was amazing.
I don’t agree with those nominations either. No one should get a pass, not everyone because people in the past did.
I agree with this take. Angela is a fantastic actor but for this movie?? She did a good job but it wasn’t Oscar worthy in my opinion. Sometimes it feels that actors win their Oscar for so-so roles because they are “owed” one. I think that’s the case here
1000% agree here. The Oscars are a crapshoot, with the emphasis on crap. I’d love for the Academy to recognize Angela Bassett’s body of work, she deserves it.
Her role in that movie was excellent and the speech where she removed Okoye from her leadership role gives me chills to this day. She deserves that award for Black Panther; is she overdo yes but she killed that role.
This is one of the more thoughtful offerings as the THR Oscar ballot series goes. Thoughtful analysis on the performances with a little of the inside baseball commentary thrown in and you can tell they actually watched these movies. Also, no weirdly racist comments, so that’s refreshing!
Agreed–liked this guy’s take (except for the Scientology stuff :P) He’s right about Top Gun: Maverick and Everything All At Once, for sure. TGM shouldn’t get Best Picture just because it helped revive box office and was a solid sequel. EAAO set its sights way higher in the creativity department–and seriously delivered.
I always look forward to reading these interviews. The best part is when they have a ludicrous opinion, like, “I will never vote for a project James Cameron works on because of the bad wigs the extras wore in ‘Titanic.’”
Yesss. I love the petty comments most of all!
Yep, the petty comments always put the lie to the “Hollywood insiders are smarter than the rest of us” canard. 🙂
I like that his reasoning for not voting for Cate tbh. She does have two already. I like seeing non white women get recognized on stages that have long underrepresented them as well. Between not being recognized for her work sooner, and being a minority who has to work harder to get to where she is, if the acting level is close enough to struggle between picking one or the other, the correct choice is Michelle.
Throwing her into it: “The performance is great — not the greatest of all time, as Kate Winslet lied to me[.]”
I want that quote cross stitch on a pillow.
I laughed, so hard at it.
I liked Austin Butler’s performance, but I didn’t think it or the movie was Academy worthy because the story did not flow and there were no REAL revelations. It was the same story that we’ve seen in any movie about Elvis and this movie seemed to be vignettes of Elvis’ life. The ultimate Elvis movie and Elvis performance for me is the TV movie starring Kurt Russell. STILL. Oh and Rami Malek did NOT deserve an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody which is a terrible movie and totally whitewashed Freddie Mercury’s complicated life .
Agree. I personally thought the movie was really boring and didn’t keep my attention at all
Austin wasn’t the lead in the film and the film would have gone on without him. He was okay the time he was on the screen but nothing more.
The film was about Parker and his life with and without Elvis.
Elvis looked cringe to me so I didn’t watch it, but I will say someone in Austin Butler’s camp must’ve read the room because he toned down his try hardness leading up to awards.
I just watched his episode of Hot Ones, and he seemed very humble, kind and sweet.
my biggest upset with this awards season is that tár isn’t the front runner for original screenplay. at same point, everyone thought that it was a biopic, but no, todd field created that character and all of her nuances.
I’m sorry but I found Tar a way too long mess. Yes, Cate Blanchet was good in it (not better than Michele Yeoh, mind you), but that movie was kinda disjointed with its indecision of what it was about. Was it drama? was it horror? At the end things were kinda inconclusive and that was frustrationg. It took too long to get to the point and then no real resolution beyond her pathetic final job. So no, I do not think the movie as a whole was a masterpiece the way EEAAO was.
Austin Butler was great in Elvis. I said it. I hope both he and Michelle Yeoh win!
AB was incredible in Elvis.
Tar was good and Cate was great as she always is, but I don’t think it was this masterpiece that’s not receiving its due at the Oscars. I think Everything Everywhere All at Once is going to be remembered far longer than Tar, no question. Everything about EEAAO is revolutionary and groundbreaking, Tar is good but there’s nothing innovative about the story or, really, Cate’s performance.
I really don’t understand the hate here for Austin Butler’s performance. While I enjoyed Elvis (and admittedly really enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s OTT shenanigans), I get that it might not be for everyone. But that kid was effing amazing! Elvis is the most impersonated person of all time, so to do that role any kind of justice without tipping into caricature is noteworthy. His performance is totally worthy of the accolades.
I also think Willem DaFoe should have won an Oscar for The Florida Project. Also liked the young mother for a Best Supporting Actress, but she wasn’t nominated (I think this was her first project, but she was THAT good, IMO).
It’s baffling to me that all these critics are fawning over Triangle of Sadness as the next Parasite – it doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, honestly. It started out really promising and then no spoilers, but around the dinner scene on the boat it completely goes off the rails and is IMO virtually unwatchable for like 15-20 minutes. By the time it gets around to the final act it’s beaten the dead horse of its point to an absolute pulp. Nowhere near as impactful as Parasite, and IMO The Menu achieved what ToS attempted in a much funnier, wittier, campier way.
Triangle of Sadness is such a horrid turd, pretentious crapola with nothing new to say.
Speaking of supposedly Oscar-worthy movies, I recently saw 2 or 3 hours of Licorice Pizza and I couldn’t even finish it, it was so bad. Yes, there were the reprehensible anti-Asian slurs. The movie just sucked all around. The actors were just okay, the story was boring, nothing special at all. Because he’s the director he is, ALL his work gets an immediate nod, which is not the way it works for women directors or p.o.c. directors.
I saw some of The Menu (couldn’t watch all of it because of the violence) and I wasn’t really impressed. I thought Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie did it so much better.
Hong Chau, nominated for The Whale, was great in The Menu. A very good year for her!