Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Anonymous 2021 Oscar Ballots

By Will Mavity & Matt Neglia 

Oscar voting is officially over for the 93rd Academy Awards, and now we are just waiting for the awards to be handed out this Sunday. Matt and I spoke to several Academy voters about what they are voting for and why. 

Here is what five of them have to say…


As you read these, just remember, these are just a handful of ballots out of the 9,000+ people who vote. While these may give some insight into voters’ minds, they are far from the be-all-end-all of what will actually happen at the Oscars.

Voter #1 – A Member Of The Directors Branch

The Academy Awards are not that important anymore as a business. People have more ways than ever to still watch these movies without having to go to the theater, but as far as recognizing good work, that’s why they’re still around. It’s just different from what it was originally created for and used to be for the industry. To win Best Picture, you have to have the broad support of the acting branch. If your film has an ensemble of terrific performances, people are more likely to vote for your movies. People also like seeing a narrative that developed along the season to be fulfilled.

Best Picture:
1. “
Judas And The Black Messiah” – It was powerfully emotional for me and was a movie’s movie that everyone involved could be proud to have worked on.
2. “Promising Young Woman” – I think it’s a masterpiece and is very close to taking the top spot for me, but “Judas And The Black Messiah” felt more important.
3. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” – Definitely the sentimental event for those who lived through it, and there are many of them within the Academy.
4. “Sound Of Metal
5. “The Father
6. “Mank
7. “Minari
8. “Nomadland

Best Director:
Thomas Vinterberg gets my vote. What he had to go through personally while making that movie, I couldn’t even possibly imagine, and the result is all up there on the screen.

Best Actress:
Carey Mulligan. She’s never won before, this is the right film at the right time and is a character that is very memorable. Viola Davis is committing category fraud by being here and not in Supporting. Andra Day is lucky to be here, considering how many voters feel about her movie. The same goes for Vanessa Kirby, who should be happy to have made the cut just barely. And Frances McDormand could have given that performance in her sleep. So I’m going with Carey. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them win outside of Vanessa Kirby.

Best Actor:
Going with Anthony Hopkins on this one. He was the best in the category, but…I think Chadwick Boseman is still going to win this one. If he were alive, he would’ve won anyway. That’s how beloved he is in this town.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Ramin Bahrani’s “The White Tiger” showed us a whole culture, with a compelling protagonist who had a full character arc and a solid structure. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and “Nomadland” both came off as heavily improvised to me. It felt like there was no story in “Nomadland.” “The Father” is close, but I preferred “The White Tiger” just a bit more.

Best Film Editing:
Easily, this one is going to “The Father” for me. Nothing comes close. What they were able to create with a limited number of locations required a stunning display of creativity, and they absolutely nailed it.

Best Documentary Feature:
This is a weird year for the category, but I’m going with “My Octopus Teacher.” It had really amazing cinematography, score, and editing that I wish the Academy would go out of their wheelhouse to recognize (documentary films) in these categories more often.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
I’m going with “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” by default. I’ve heard the makeup in “Pinocchio” is amazing, but I’m not sure how many people have seen it. I know I haven’t.

Best Original Song:
The best song is the one from “Judas And The Black Messiah.” “Eurovision” is aided because when Academy members log into the portal and click to listen to the songs, that is the only one that is accompanied with visuals while the others play over the credits. Diane Warren is the sentimental favorite and could win this, though as the narrative that she’s never won has certainly reached a lot of voter’s ears.

Voter #2 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

Best Picture:
This ended up being a gem of a year. The fact that the studios stepped aside. People had been complaining about the blockbusters taking up space in the film conversation and this year felt like the return of real movies. “Nomadland” might have been the one that spoke to me the most emotionally, but “Judas And The Black Messiah” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” were just classic Hollywood filmmaking. The only weak link was “Promising Young Woman” for me. I thought her performance was really great, but the film was predictable.

1. “Judas And The Black Messiah
2. “The Trial of the Chicago 7
3. “Nomadland

Best Director:
Chloe Zhao
 
Best Actor:
Anthony Hopkins. This was tough, though, because I loved Riz Ahmed. But Anthony’s dementia felt so real it scared me. I didn’t think Chadwick was all that commanding of a presence in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” I wish he’d gotten in for “Da 5 Bloods” instead, along with Delroy Lindo.
 
Best Actress:
Andra Day. I loved Viola too, but Andra had so much range. The movie itself had a soap opera feeling to it, but she was incredible. Carey Mulligan didn’t feel like she had much of an arc. It was all intent all the time.
 
Best Supporting Actress:
They were all good—even the girl in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which I thought was a horrible movie. But I have to go with Glenn Close. “Hillbilly Elegy” really surprised me after what I had heard about it. She and Amy Adams brought so much to these characters.
 
Best Supporting Actor:
Lakeith Stanfield. I’ve been a fan of his since “Short Term 12.” They really screwed this up. It’s not fair. Kaluuya was the star. He should’ve been in the lead category.
 
Best Original Screenplay:
The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Sorkin just nails it, and it’s such a complicated piece.
 
Best Adapted Screenplay”
The White Tiger.” I wasn’t even gonna watch it until it got nominated, and I’m so glad I did. It takes us to a place that most of us have never been to before. “Nomadland” was a tour de force but more for the directing than the writing.

Best Editing:
The Father.” It leaves you questioning your own sanity. They must’ve pulled their hair out in the editing room.

Best Cinematography:
Mank.” I thought it was just gorgeous. 35 MM, B&W old school. “News of the World” was also great. All those dark scenes lit by fire and candlelight.

Best Documentary:
Crip Camp.” You couldn’t have more of a joyous outcome of the story. It really challenged me.

Voter #3 – A Member Of The Visual Effects Branch

Best Picture:
Weak year. Very strange. Every year leading up to this year, it was mainly the studio films, with the odd independent, and then streaming films seeping in, and nobody wants to acknowledge them, but they’re forced to because they’re so good, like Roma. But now it’s flip-flopped. There’s almost no studio stuff. It’s all outside the box and streaming stuff.

Nomadland” was the best. I’m sure a lot of people relate to Fern and know somebody like her. She reminded me a lot of my mom. It just tugged at my heartstrings. “Promising Young Woman” was one of the more surprising films of the year. That’s the one where I walked away saying, “goddamn, I’m glad I saw that one.” It’s the movie I’ve heard most people ask, “hey have you seen this?” “Mank” is my #8. Everyone that I talk to that’s in the business that’s supposed to love “Mank… doesn’t love “Mank.” I think people expected something more from it.

1. “Nomadland” 
2. “Promising Young Woman
3. “Minari

Best Director:
I love the idea of having two female-forward movies win the top awards. So I’m gonna go with Emerald Fennell here and “Nomadland” for Best Picture.

Best Actress:
I have no fucking idea. Everybody’s going apeshit over “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and I just did not connect with that movie. I just didn’t like her character, and I feel like the intent wasn’t for me to totally dislike her. So I’ve gotta go with Carey.

Best Actor:
I’m voting for Anthony Hopkins. I think Chadwick did a great job. Again, I didn’t really like his character, but unlike Viola, I think his character came across exactly as the film intended. But I still preferred Hopkins.

Best Supporting Actor:
I still have to watch “Judas And The Black Messiah” before I cast my Ballot. Out of the three I have seen so far, Sacha Baron Cohen gave a good surprising performance. I didn’t expect it out of him.

Best Supporting Actress:
Youn Yuh-jung. She’s just amazing. Although the “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm performance from Maria Bakalova is pretty fucking great. It takes guts to do what she did.

Best Original Screenplay:
Promising Young Woman

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Nomadland

Best Film Editing:
Sound Of Metal.” I thought it was superbly edited, so propulsive. I almost went for “Nomadland.” A little slow at times. You can tell it was a mother fucker to put together. 

Best Cinematography:
It’s gotta be “Nomadland.” There were so many shots where I was like, “how the fuck did they get that shot right at sunset?” They only would’ve been able to have one go at it before the sunset, and then they’d have to wait another day. So well planned with natural light.

Best Visual Effects:
This is a year where it feels like a downer of a year in this category. Both in what was released and also in what the branch chose. I was really bummed “Welcome to Chechnya” didn’t make it. If a movie makes me feel something or if it’s doing something that’s beyond just entertaining me, that’s where I’m like, “this is where it deserves recognition for this thing.” “Welcome to Chechnya” was an example of VFX being used to tell a story that would’ve gotten people murdered otherwise. Telling an important story in a novel way. I think the branch missed the mark. Just because it’s not pixel perfect doesn’t mean the work isn’t worthy. It’s not about perfection. I think “The Midnight Sky” is probably the winner. That’s who I’m voting for.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The continuity was extremely good. It never destroys movies. There are so many films in this category and in VFX most years where the continuity wrecks it. Some shots are great; others not so much. This was perfect throughout. I’m sure “Emma” was wonderful, but I’m just…done with movies like that.

Best Original Song:
I haven’t seen “Eurovision” and “The Life Ahead,” but I listened to all the songs. In the absence of context, I went with the “One Night in Miami” song. I have no expertise in this category, and I almost feel guilty in voting.



​Voter #4 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

Best Picture:
For me, it’s been a strong year. I loved seeing the smaller films get so much attention.

1. “Nomadland
2. “The Father
3. “Sound Of Metal

Best Director:
I feel that direction-wise, there were so many strong voices this year. Chloe Zhao’s voice is so apparent in that film. That whole movie is so very much her. So I had to vote for “Nomadland.”

Best Actress:
I voted for Carey Mulligan. She made me believe that character even when the writing didn’t. Everyone I’m talking to says different names. It’s such a competitive year. Vanessa Kirby was close for me. That was a really powerful performance.

Best Actor:
Anthony Hopkins. My number 2 would be Riz Ahmed. Chadwick is probably going to win. He was really good in that role, but he’s up against performances that are just so nuanced. I think what Anthony Hopkins is doing just left me sitting there going, “Woah.” He was so incredible and emotional. So honest and powerful. There are just so many different layers of complexity in that role.

Best Supporting Actor:
I was strongly considering Paul Raci, but I ended up settling on Daniel Kaluuya.

Best Supporting Actress:
Youn Yuh-Jung

Best Original Screenplay:
Sound Of Metal.” There was something about the way it is able to both be an emotional story of the character and also get you into an environment that you don’t know, like the whole deaf culture that I thought was incredibly well thought out. His trajectory as a character is so good and feels so natural. Whereas in “Promising Young Woman,” Carey’s felt a little more written. As they decided, “we have these beats, and she needs to do that, regardless of whether it made sense for her character. Her performance was so strong it bought it, but the writing felt more natural in “Sound Of Metal.”

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Father.” It’s really, really strongly written. It’s so complex and, at the same time, so emotionally gratifying. It’s very nuanced. In a way, it’s very simple but also super well constructed, and it also feels so natural. Just an incredible feat of writing.

Best Editing:
Sound Of Metal.” I was choosing between this and “The Father.” And I feel what’s so strong about “Sound Of Metal” is this ability to balance such a human story and tell it in a way that you’re entranced by it. The way it merges the objective with the subjective. Making such a visual and sonic universe. The film is so much more than a script. You can’t write what that film conveys in a script.

Best Original Song:
Eurovision.” I had so much fun watching that movie with my kids. I love the song is such a big part of the story instead of just being a credits song. I always look at ‘what did this song tell me about the film?’ “Eurovisionhas by far the strongest story element of the five songs. 

Best Original Score:
Minari.” It’s so strong and emotional. I heard he wrote it beforehand, and they shot the scenes to the music, and it shows. Such a character in the film.

Voter #5 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

Best Picture:
Slim pickings. The whole lack of product this year was really obvious. I got maybe 10% of the number of screeners I normally get, so unless I cast the video off my Ipad onto the TV, I couldn’t watch. And they didn’t have a bunch of the stuff. I wanted to watch “Tenet.” They don’t have the whole film on the screening portal. They only have a 10-minute screener. It’s something I’ll let the academy know was kind of unfair. They should’ve left all the films that were up for nominations you could watch.

The Trial of the Chicago 7” was my favorite. Aaron Sorkin, who I love, wrote a really great script. It was really well cast and had the most interesting subject matter. I remember those riots and that Trial. I couldn’t figure out why “Promising Young Woman” was there. I actually kind of liked the movie, but I just didn’t feel like it was a Best Picture Nominee. “Nomadland” I felt kind of eh about. It left me wanting. “Minari” I really wanted to like. I liked parts of it, but at the end, I was kind of like, “ok.” “Mank“…who cares. There are a few things I liked—great costumes and score. But as a film about the making of “Citizen Kane,” I couldn’t care less. And I’m a huge Fincher fan and was so freaking disappointed.

1. “The Trial of the Chicago 7
2. “Sound of Metal
3. “Judas And The Black Messiah

Best Director:
David Fincher. I didn’t love the movie, but his work was excellent.

Best Actress:
Andra Day blew me away. I didn’t think the film was particularly good, but she was so transformative.

Best Actor:
Chadwick Boseman will win this because of the emotional vote. And you know what? That’s ok. He’s still good. I voted for him.

Best Supporting Actress:
Amanda Seyfried. For a movie I didn’t like much, I ended up voting for it a lot.

Best Supporting Actor:
Sacha Baron Cohen. Although my favorite from that movie wasn’t nominated. Frank Langella was a cold, heartless son of a bitch.

Best Original Screenplay:
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay:
One Night in Miami

Best Film Editing:
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Cinematography:
News of the World.” I don’t see what was so special about “Nomadland” here. They shot everything at the magic hour. It’s not hard to look pretty when you’re shooting at that time of day.

You can follow Matt & Will and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture@mavericksmovies

Photo: Valeriya Zankovych / Shutterstock.com

Will Mavity
Will Mavityhttps://nextbestpicture.com
Loves Awards Season, analyzing stats & conducting interviews. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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