Monday, April 15, 2024

Anonymous 2022 Oscar Ballots

By Will Mavity & Matt Neglia 

Oscar voting is officially over for the 94th 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 8 of them have to say…


​As you read these, just remember, these are just a handful of ballots out of the 10,000+ 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 Director’s Branch

Nightmare Alley

Best Picture:
1. “Nightmare Alley
This really stuck with me due to the haunting final moments. I found it to be the most original and well-crafted of all of the nominees.
2. “CODA
Some may see it as a piece of fluff, but it truly makes your heart swell by the end.
3. “West Side Story
A true big-screen cinematic movie event by a master
4. “King Richard
Such a wonderfully engaging story. Inspirational and entertaining.

I didn’t bother to rank the rest either because I either haven’t seen them (“Dune“), didn’t care for them (“The Power of the Dog“), or haven’t finished them (“Drive My Car“). Most people are saying “The Power of the Dog” is going to win. It’s extremely well-made, but I don’t know anyone in this community who truly loved it the way people loved “CODA.” With everything going on in the world right now, that’s the film most people I know are gravitating towards.

Best Director:
Steven Spielberg. I was thinking about voting for Jane Campion, but her speech at the Critics Choice Awards really rubbed me the wrong way.

Best Actress:
Penelope Cruz. This is such a complicated character, and she pulled it off so well. Olivia Colman also was able to successfully convey the pain and agony of motherhood, but I give the edge to Cruz.

Best Actor:
Will Smith. He was charming and had such an awesome personality. The performance utilizes his inherent charismatic abilities so well.

Best Supporting Actress:
Jessie Buckley. I was amazed by her performance and was rooting for her to get nominated. DeBose will most likely win for singing “America,” but we already rewarded another performance for doing the same thing 60 years ago.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Lost Daughter.” Such a complicated subject. The time shifts are hard to pull off, and I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal did a wonderful job.

Best Original Screenplay:
The Worst Person in the World.” So incredibly creative, with a complex character at its center. Easily the best of the bunch.

Best Cinematography:
West Side Story.” Incredible camera movement by Janusz Kamiński.

Best Costume Design:
Cyrano.” Exquisite work. Peter Dinklage should’ve been nominated.

Best Film Editing:
King Richard.” The tennis is comprehensible and flows exceedingly well.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” There’s some shaky work when they’re younger, but it gets better as it goes that by the time the makeup team has aged Jessica and Andrew for several decades, they’re completely unrecognizable.

Best Production Design:
Nightmare Alley.” Immaculate, highly detailed, and stunning work.

Best Original Score:
Dune.” I must confess that I haven’t seen it, but I listened to all of the nominated scores outside of the films, and I thought Zimmer’s work was excellent.

Best Original Song:
“Be Alive.” The Beyoncé song that plays over the credits. Once you’ve gotten to the end of that story and the way it’s edited with the credits and real-life footage, it leaves a lasting impression.

Best Sound:
West Side Story.” I usually go for musicals in this category, especially now that it’s a combined category, and I want to make sure they don’t get overshadowed by the larger, louder films. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to pull off a movie musical. They also had an impressive reel during the bake-off.

Best Visual Effects:
Dune.” I saw the bake-off presentation and was blown away by how well they blended practical footage with CGI.

Best Documentary Feature:
Summer of Soul.” This is such an easy call. The sheer joy of watching that footage can’t be matched.

Best International Feature Film:
The Hand of God.” Admittedly, I want to vote for “Flee,” but I know someone who worked on Sorrentino’s film. “Flee,” though, is a remarkable & substantial piece of work which I can at least choose elsewhere…

Best Animated Feature:
Flee.” And here it is!

The Shorts:
Live-Action – “The Dress.”
Animation – “Robin Robin.”
Documentary – “The Queen Of Basketball.”

I know everyone, including yourself, is upset about the categories being presented off the telecast and then edited into the show later. However, I highly urge you to reserve judgment until you see how it’s been done. There are worse things going on in the world right now than getting so emotionally bent out of shape over this. The work will be celebrated one way or another, and that’s all that matters.

​Voter #2 – A Member Of The Actor’s Branch

Don't Look Up

Best Picture:
Don’t Look Up.” With all that was happening with our country at the time, with all the misinformation, this really affected me. It’s so funny, but it still made you think. “The Power of the Dog” was my number one for a long time, but “Don’t Look Up” really just made me feel more. “CODA” reminded me a bit of an after-school special. I just can’t compare it with the gravitas of something like “The Power of the Dog,” or the heaviness of “Nightmare Alley.” 

1. “Don’t Look Up
2. “The Power of the Dog” 
3. “Nightmare Alley

Best Director: 
Jane Campion

Best Actress:
Penelope Cruz. They were all so good. I saw “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” before the others and thought I would go with Chastain, but when I saw “Parallel Mothers,” I was so moved. I had to go with Cruz.

Best Actor:
Benedict Cumberbatch

Best Supporting Actress:
Judi Dench

Best Supporting Actor:
Troy Kotsur

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Power of the Dog

Best Original Screenplay: 
Don’t Look Up

Best Cinematography:
Nightmare Alley.” What a rich-looking film. I loved everything about that one.

Best Film Editing:
Don’t Look Up

Best Production Design:
Nightmare Alley

Best Animated Feature: 
Flee

Best Documentary Feature:
Summer of Soul


​​Voter #3 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

Belfast

Best Picture:
1. “Belfast
2. “The Power of the Dog
3. “Dune

I thought “Belfast” was really moving. The way that Branagh has taken a very personal story and made it into such a cinematic experience. I really loved “The Power of the Dog,” but “Belfast” was a little more compressed and hit me harder. “CODA” was a little too uneven, a little too mainstream, a little too committed to trying to satisfy the audience. “Dune” was amazing, but it feels like the first chapter of a story that I need to see the next part of to appreciate fully. 

Best Director:
Jane Campion

Best Actress:
Kristen Stewart. For me, this was the performance of the year. Period. So dynamic, subtle, and physical.

Best Actor:
Benedict Cumberbatch. I really liked this thing about creating an unsympathetic character that you connect to at the same time. And Cumberbatch was also playing against type which was refreshing.

Best Supporting Actress:
Kirsten Dunst. The character is often not saying anything but has so much impact with her scenes. I always adore when an actor delivers a compelling, almost wordless performance like that. 

Best Supporting Actor:
Troy Kotsur

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Lost Daughter.” There are so many characters, and they’re all written in a very complex way. Like the Ed Harris character isn’t in it very much, but there’s so much going on with him. And to take a book that’s famous for being very atmospheric and abstract and turn it into something that you can shoot as a film and make it very moving –That’s really amazing. 

Best Original Screenplay:
The Worst Person in the World.” Really brilliant and bold screenwriting. It takes such a personal story but makes it feel so cinematic. I wouldn’t vote for “Belfast” here because I thought it was more how the film was told visually and sonically that made it impact me than how it was written.

Best Cinematography:
The Tragedy of Macbeth.” It was like paintings that I wanted to put on the wall—such a bold vision from Joel Coen.

Best Costume Design:
Cyrano” They took that kind of historical environment and gave it more rough edges than you’re used to in that kind of film. Sometimes they make you feel like you’re at Madame Tussauds, but not this one.

Best Film Editing:
The Power of the Dog” I liked how the editing managed to go between poetry and abstractions and then grittiness. I felt like all of the movies in that category were a little bit too long, except for “Tick, Tick…Boom!.” But that felt a little too flashy and surface level. However, of all of those, “The Power of the Dog” really made me feel for all the characters the most.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
Dune.” Some of the others, like “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” were more flashy, but they weren’t consistent. The look of Tammy Faye’s husband didn’t work. I had this feeling of Marlon Brando stuffing things in his cheeks like in “The Godfather” with him. With “Dune,” it was sci-fi that felt real and natural within its own universe.

Best Original Score:
The Power of the Dog” I loved how the music was used in the film. The characters talked through the music but in a very subtle way. And I can listen to it more than something like “Dune.” I loved “Dune” too, but it was just so overwhelming.

Best Original Song:
No Time to Die.” It had the Billie Eilish modern touch merged with the grand James Bond feel.

Best Production Design:
The Tragedy of Macbeth.” The way that whole world was designed. It was so strange and abstract and unique.

Best Sound:
Dune.” I was a huge fan of the work the “West Side Story” team did, but “Dune” is next level on all counts. You can just tell how sound was a massive part of Denis Villeneuve’s whole vision for that film, how the sound has been integrated into the storytelling.

Best Visual Effects:
Dune

Best Animated, Documentary & International Feature:
Flee.” It’s such a strong and original film in all of its categories. There have been animated documentaries before, but the way they employ animation here was just so unique. I voted for it everywhere and figured it has to win somewhere. It should’ve been in the Best Picture lineup too.

Voter #4 – A Member Of The Makeup & Hairstyling Branch

The Power of the Dog

Best Picture:
1. “CODA
2. “The Power of the Dog
3. “King Richard

Best Director:
Jane Campion

Best Actress: 
Penelope Cruz

Best Actor:
Will Smith

Best Supporting Actress:
Ariana DeBose. I was this close to voting for Aunjanue Ellis, but Ariana was just undeniable.

Best Supporting Actor:
Kodi Smit-McPhee

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Lost Daughter

Best Original Screenplay:
King Richard.” “Don’t Look Up” and “Licorice Pizza” are both trash.

Best Cinematography:
The Power of the Dog.” I really want a woman to win Best Cinematography. Plus, the work is gorgeous.

Best Costume Design:
West Side Story

Best Film Editing:
The Power of the Dog

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: 
Coming 2 America.” The prosthetics work here was on a different level than anything else in the category.

Best Original Score:
The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song:
Encanto.” I really want the EGOT for Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Best Production Design:
Nightmare Alley

Best Sound:
Dune

Best Visual Effects: 
Dune

Best Animated Feature:
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Documentary Feature: 
Flee

Best International Feature:
The Worst Person in the World” ​

Voter #5 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

King Richard

Best Picture: 
I think many of these films caught a big break from some of the larger films that were supposed to come out being delayed. Look at “The Power of the Dog.” Oh boy! I think there’s a place for that kind of movie, but the fact that people are drooling over it is astonishing to me. And “West Side Story?” I had no interest in that. It’s not relevant today. I was disappointed that Spielberg felt he needed to remake that classic movie. From a pure direction standpoint, it was masterful, but from a story standpoint, it really was lacking. The ones that hit me the hardest were “King Richard” and “CODA.” I think “CODA” is really going to surprise people on Oscar night. It has a heart as big as a mountain. “Dune” was great too. It reminded me of one of those old-school epics like “Lawrence of Arabia.” “Don’t Look Up” was also great. I love Adam McKay’s biting humor. I know it’s divisive, but I really loved it.

1. “King Richard” 
2. “CODA
3. “Dune

Best Director: 
Kenneth Branagh. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Jane Campion. I was outraged by her speech at the Critics Choice Awards. That was just inexcusable.

Best Actress:
Nicole Kidman. I thought it was bizarre that the critics came for her so hard. I thought she was spectacular. She’s playing the first woman in Hollywood to really stand up to the patriarchy.

Best Actor: 
Will Smith. He really immersed himself in the Richard Williams character. A lot of people don’t really understand Richard Williams, and that story was elevated by his performance.

Best Supporting Actress: 
Kirsten Dunst

Best Supporting Actor: 
Troy Kotsur. I mean, come on. How could I say anyone else?

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Dune

Best Original Screenplay: 
Don’t Look Up

Best Cinematography: 
Dune

Best Costume Design: 
Dune

Best Film Editing:
Don’t Look Up.” I almost picked “King Richard.” The way they played those tennis matches was seamless, but everything else was more traditional. But I thought Corwin’s task in “Don’t Look Up” was so much more ambitious.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
Dune

Best Original Score:
Don’t Look Up.” That music was a character in itself in that movie.

Best Original Song: 
No Time to Die.” I love all the homages in harmony to the original Bond themes…especially that last chord.

Best Production Design:
The Tragedy of Macbeth.” It’s really minimalist and out-there. It took a lot of guts to showcase the story in that way, and it was just so unique.

Best Sound:
Dune

Best Visual Effects: 
Dune

Best Documentary Feature: 
Summer of Soul

Best International Feature: 
Flee


​Voter #6 – A Member Of The Visual Effects Branch

CODA

Best Picture:
I thought the Best Picture lineup this year was pretty weak. I’ve talked to a few members of the Directors branch who are having a hard time deciding who to vote for at all. For me, “CODA” is the clear horse to win the race. It’s the one movie on the list that was emotionally engaging the whole way through. After all this character development, I loved the moment where they turn the sound off, and boom, you’re in the dad’s shoes. That moment hit me so hard, and it really shows how much everything in the film leading up to that moment worked so well. “The Power of the Dog” didn’t quite elevate itself to Best Picture-winning level because I felt like there were some weaker parts in the film…like the music. I didn’t like how the music was mixed. I felt like it was trying to take me to places I already was or didn’t want to be. And some of the visuals threw me off stylistically. 

1. “CODA
2. “King Richard
3. “The Power of the Dog

Best Director:
Jane Campion. I was shocked that “Dune” didn’t make it into Best Director. Denis Villeneuve did such an incredible job pulling every department together. It would’ve been more deserving of a director win than Best Picture. I do love Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s a total fucking genius. I would love to have a beer with him and discuss his love for movies. And for him to make “Licorice Pizza” work despite being about nothing was impressive.

Best Actress:
Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain were neck and neck for me. I flipped a coin and got Jessica. 
 
Best Actor:
Will Smith. I was really impressed with what Will Smith did in “King Richard.” I often find him hard to watch because he’s always playing Will Smith, but here he really stepped out from being Will Smith, especially when you see footage of the real Richard Williams in the end credits. You’re like, “oh, that’s totally him.”

Best Supporting Actress: 
Kirsten Dunst
 
Best Supporting Actor:
Kodi Smit-McPhee absolutely transformed everything about himself for this role. Body posture, lisp, accent…you watch “The Power of the Dog,” and you’re like, “Wow…what an awkward actor that must’ve been to work with,” and then you see him speak in real life, and he’s this chill Australian actor. Amazing!

Best Adapted Screenplay: 
CODA

“Best Original Screenplay:” 
The Worst Person in the World.” That was so fun, and I felt kind of bad about not voting for it in International Feature. This was my way of acknowledging how much I did love it. “Don’t Look Up” was also really fun but overly pandering. “Belfast” and “King Richard” felt based on real-life foundations, whereas “The Worst Person in the World” felt like it came out of nowhere but the writer’s imagination.

Best Cinematography:
Dune

Best Costume Design:
Dune,” but “Cruella” was close. I just loved how the costume design was part of that world’s many cultures and the science of that world.

Best Film Editing: 
Dune.” That’s a really long film, but I didn’t feel it at all. 

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Eyes of Tammy Faye” 

Best Original Score: 
Dune.” It worked perfectly with the visuals and sound design, unlike “The Power of the Dog,” where those elements were at odds with each other. It was impressive how a score that big could seamlessly blend in with the film…except for the moments where it’s supposed to stand out and blow your mind on its own.

Best Original Song: 
No Time to Die” 

Best Production Design: 
Dune” may be the best design work in a movie since “Star Wars.” “The Tragedy of Macbeth” was a close second. So artful. That was one with little money, yet somehow it was perfect for that particular vision. 

Best Sound:
Dune

Best Visual Effects:
Dune

Best Animated Feature:
Encanto.” But I was really close with “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” That film, from a technical perspective, had such extremely impressive execution. How they made it look like a dimensionalized comic…it was enjoyable stylistically. But “Encanto” was just too good. 

Best Documentary Feature: 
Flee

Best International Feature:
Drive My Car” but “Flee” was remarkable. ​

Voter #7 – A Member Of The Sound Branch

West Side Story

Best Picture: 
This was such a downer year for films. They were almost all depressing. “The Power of the Dog?” Oh my god, I can’t believe the amount of interest that film has raised. Some people just really love it. Ok, Jane Campion is an excellent director, and it’s beautifully shot, but why would she even want to make this movie? What drew her to that story? “Nightmare Alley?” Why was that here? I voted it 10th…I would’ve put it 100th if I could’ve.

There were one or two I loved. “West Side Story” was a little too slick for me, but I loved how Spielberg created a part for Rita Moreno…when she sings that song; it’s so poignant and wonderful. But it was “CODA” that really stuck with me. It was something positive in the middle of all this. I think people think the Oscars only recognize sad and serious things, but sometimes it’s nice to be uplifted. 

1. “CODA” 
2. “West Side Story
3. “Drive My Car

Best Director: 
Steven Spielberg. I’ve seen a few behind-the-scenes videos of that film, and the joy they had making it really comes across on the screen. It’s very sad, but it gave you some hope that these innocent young people didn’t die in vain. I know that Jane lost to Spielberg before, and I think this time they’ll give it to Jane to make up for that, which is a strange way to vote…you shouldn’t vote based on someone’s body of work if the film itself doesn’t deserve it. I’ve heard people say “The Power of the Dog” affects you more if you see it on the big screen than at home, and I’m sure it would’ve, but for a really great movie, it shouldn’t matter where you watch it. 

Best Actress: 
I didn’t like Kristen Stewart in “Spencer” at all or that movie, for that matter. I voted for Penelope Cruz.

Best Actor: 
Andrew Garfield

Best Supporting Actress: 
Ariana DeBose

Best Supporting Actor:
Troy Kotsur 

Best Adapted Screenplay: 
CODA

Best Original Screenplay:
Belfast.” Taking your own experience and putting it into a screenplay form and making it more than just about you is an amazing achievement.

Best Costume Design: 
West Side Story

Best Film Editing: 
Tick, Tick…Boom!.” This should have been nominated for Best Picture. I was so glad it at least got in here.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Original Score: 
Encanto

Best Original Song: 
I voted for Diane Warren and her “13th nomination for a movie no one ever saw” narrative. Nobody can see all the movies; it’s just impossible, so things like that can color our votes. Since I didn’t even see the movie, I know I shouldn’t, but I voted for her. 

Best Production Design: 
West Side Story

Best Sound: 
Dune” 

Best Visual Effects: 
Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Sometimes I just like to vote for the underdog because I know “Dune” is going to win this. 

Best Animated Feature: 
The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best Documentary Feature:
Summer of Soul” ​​

Best International Feature:
Drive My Car

​Voter #8 – A Member Of The Editing Branch

Dune

I abstained from voting this year in response to the Academy’s decision to present eight categories, including Best Film Editing off-air. Many of my colleagues within the Academy are also abstaining. I do believe “King Richard” will likely win Best Film Editing, as “Dune” dragged during the desert portions of the film but I think “Dune” will win most of the awards for its other technical achievements.

Who is going to win at the 94th Academy Awards this Sunday? Be sure to check out Next Best Picture’s predictions here and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

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

Photo: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com

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

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