Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot

Scott Feinberg went and hung out with a prickly director who gave him his honest picks in the various categories. You can tell 2012 is a very strong year because everyone’s “should wins” are all over the place. One thing I can say with a certainty is that I feel a groundswell not for Silver Linings for Best Picture but for Zero Dark Thirty and that will be my No Guts, No Glory for Best Picture. Here is the funniest paragraph but you should read the whole article:

“This is a preferential system. I’m putting Amour at No. 9 because I’m just pissed off at that film. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that I just didn’t understand, so that’s my No. 8. Les Miserables goes in seventh place — it’s not just the most disappointing film of the year but the most disappointing film in many years. Above that I’m putting Silver Linings Playbook, which is just a “blah” film. Django Unchained will go into my fifth slot — it’s a fun movie, but it’s basically just Quentin Tarantino masturbating for almost three hours. Next up is Life of Pi because of how unique it is and for holding my attention up until its irritating ending. Argo is gonna go in third place, but I don’t want it to win because I don’t think it deserves to win and am annoyed that it is on track to win for the wrong reasons. Actually, come to think of it, do we have to put a film in every slot? Because what I want is for my best picture choice to have the best possible shot, so why even give any support to the others? [He has his assistant call the Oscar voting helpline, finds out that voters can leave slots blank and promptly removes all of the aforementioned selections.] I’m basically OK with one of two films winning. Lincoln is going in my second slot; it’s a bore, but it’s Spielberg, it’s well-meaning, and it’s important. Zero Dark Thirty is my No 1.”

Dear Academy: Consider the Women Directors

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50 Psychics Predict Lincoln to win Best Picture


  1. jOE
    February 20, 2013

    Director-Steven Spielberg: Lincoln
    Actor: Daniel Day Lewis: Lincoln
    Actress: Jennifer Lawrence: The Silver Linings Playbook
    Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones: Lincoln
    Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway: Les Miserables
    Original Screenplay: Amour
    Adapted Screenplay: Argo
    Animated Feature: Wreck it Ralph
    Animated Short Film: Paperman
    Live Action Short Film: Henry
    Original Song: Skyfall-Skyfall
    Original Score: Micheal Dynenna: The Life of Pi
    Documentary Feature: Searching for a Sugar Man
    Documentary Short Subject: Open Heart
    Visual Effects: The Hobbit
    Make-Up: The Hobbit
    Cinematography: The Life of Pi
    Film Editing: Argo
    Art Direction: Anna Karenina
    Costume Design: Anna Karenina

  2. February 20, 2013

    I think it would be awesome if ZDT pulled a ‘crash’ and won Best Pic, I wouldn’t be upset at all. But…I think Argo has it in the bag.

  3. joe
    February 20, 2013

    sound mixing: les miserables
    sound editing: skyfall

  4. Zach
    February 20, 2013

    At this rate ZDT is my NGNG or alternate for Original Screenplay, nothing more.

  5. Chronos
    February 20, 2013

    I agree about Wallis. Well, not about the name, but the rest. I’ve seen some performances by children that blew me away (Breslin, the Bolger girls…), but in Wallis’ case, I just thought “Yeah, cute, good job by Zeitlin for bringing that out and putting it in his movie”, I sincerely wonder how much acting there was going on there.

  6. yss
    February 20, 2013

    If you watched the Behind the Scenes featurette on “Beasts” you would see that there was a lot of acting in Wallis as Hushpuppy, she’s nothing like the character she was portraying, so I’m happy that her along with the director are nominated.

  7. Eric P.
    February 20, 2013

    I like brutally honest. I respect brutally honest. i don’t agree with this guy’s choices (i.e “Amour” in last place), but i agree with his approach.

  8. Andrew
    February 20, 2013

    What is your feeling of a groundswell for ZDT based on ?

  9. KT
    February 20, 2013

    Sasha—what have you seen to suggest a groundswell for Zero Dark Thirty?? Just curious. I’m just hoping Boal wins screenplay and gives a “memorable” speech, letting all the damn idiots and senators and flip-flopping critics have it.

  10. Aragorn
    February 20, 2013

    Sasha has a different post about why Argo will be a very weak BP winner, in terms of stats. So what would that make ZDT if it won BP in a very very shocking way???

    Having only 5 (not even 7!) total nominations, no BD nominations no PGA win,no DGA win, no SAG win, no GG, no nothing! Only win from a few critics groups.. Just asking….I wonder if Sasha or others would still call it a “very weak” winner. Based on same stats, it just looks weaker than Argo, doesnt it?

  11. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    More and more I think ZD30 gets screenplay. Maybe also in editing because the raid was such a master class. As for the rest of the ballot I appreciate the honesty though the Haneke stuff makes me laugh as a fan of his older work (that I like more than Amour, a film I like a lot), I just knew he was always a prickly subject at AMPAS for those reasons stated in the ballot.

  12. Bebe
    February 20, 2013

    I loved reading that. I don’t agree with all his choices but getting an insight into his process was fun and true. Love it.

  13. SallyinChicago
    February 20, 2013

    The director was talking about BP, not actors. I’m still praying for Wallis to win best actress….it would be a monumental NEWS ITEM and a historical moment for the Oscars. If you watch that last scene with her and her dad and she’s crying, those are real tears. The last kid I saw do that was Jacky Cooper(?) or Coogan (I forgot) in the Champ.

  14. Manuel
    February 20, 2013

    “Django Unchained will go into my fifth slot — it’s a fun movie, but it’s basically just Quentin Tarantino masturbating for almost three hours”

    That was really really funny!

    “Lincoln is going in my second slot; it’s a bore, but it’s Spielberg, it’s well-meaning, and it’s important”

    Well does this mean that Spielberg is not the fav to win Best Director?

    Sasha: I have seen Argo, Lincoln, Amour and Zero Dark Thirty. They are all very good movies, but ZD30 impressed me the most and Amour is my fav. Day-Lewis and Tony is the only reason to why Lincoln work. Argo showed that yeas Affleck is talented but should make one or two more movies to be consider a grown up

  15. February 20, 2013

    This voter’s honesty is appreciated. Some parts made me laugh, others made me mad. I take points away for his ignorance, and then give them back (in part) for being unabashed about his ignorance.

  16. The J Viewer
    February 20, 2013

    “Jennifer Lawrence I was on the fence about, but she lost me with that Saturday Night Live bit; I thought it was mean-spirited and shows a lack of maturity on her part.”

    “Michael Haneke has pissed me off in the past because he’s made movies that are so misanthropic. He just hates human beings, and I happen to be a human being and don’t like being shit on.”

    He’s eliminated his choices for wrong reasons himself. This Director what’s his face was totally unfunny in my book [and trust me, my tolerance level is extremely high -- normally] in the wake of the whole read [*whole original article*].

    Lawrence was simply doing some gags on SNL. It was not meant to be mean-spirited on purpose at all. A lack of maturity or not, that’s one thing for you to say; but being mean-spirited??

    I know the original article [over there] was supposed to be somewhat entertaining and funny in main. But funnily enough, as Zen-like as I’ve been (probably some readers could also feel my Zen during the last two months or so), I was a bit annoyed….

    Insignificant context/topic aside, somehow this guy was quite annoying. [And it was not mainly about JLaw being dissed either.]

  17. Andrea
    February 20, 2013

    I don’t care how much of a jerk this voter sounds like haha. He voted for the 3 performances of the year- Emmanuelle Riva, Joaquin Phoenix, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, therefore he is awesome.

  18. Joseph
    February 20, 2013

    I pictured Alan Arkin’s character in Argo while reading this.

  19. Sasha Stone
    February 20, 2013

    Yeah I agree – I liked his brutal honesty. I wish we could hear more Academy voters be that honest. He cracked me up too.

  20. BenG
    February 20, 2013

    Although I don’t agree with all his choices I absolutely adored this analysis. it’s fascinating to see how people approach the ballot (flipping an iphone? I died laughing). No matter what we say or think, it really does come down to personal choice. What a refreshing look at the race!

  21. knee play
    February 20, 2013

    Yikes. His rationale was entertaining to read but ultimately a bit depressing. Still, can’t be too hard on someone who voted for Hoffman, Phoenix, Riva, and Zero Dark Thirty a few times.

  22. steandric
    February 20, 2013

    Added to the impressing long list of peer support, Eva Marie Saint praises Naomi Watts’ ‘Impossible’ performance.

    Angelina Jolie, Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Ewan Mcgregor, Kate Hudson, Alicia Silverstone, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Black, Benicio Del Toro, Jennifer Connelly, Robert Downey Jr., Emmy Rossum, Nicole Kidman, Eva Marie Saint…

  23. February 20, 2013

    Yeah…this guy’s vote for Best Animated Short seems quite dubious. While Paperman is my favorite of the nominees, I can’t really see good things to the category if people are just allowed to vote based on word of mouth without seeing all of the nominees.

  24. Aaron
    February 20, 2013

    From someone who is a huge fan of Amour, I almost spit out my coffee when he said that the film just had “too much diaper changing for me”. LMFAO! I like this guy’s honesty although frankly, I think he’s a bit too misanthropic himself, too!

    This article definitely shows that Academy voters are just as biased as everyone else and often places their votes based on sentimentalism, nostalgia, or simple strategy against other nominees that they hate. Honestly, I didn’t get the impression that this guy liked any of the nominees outside of “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Skyfall” and some muted appreciation for “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi”…seems like he also had a soft spot for “The Master” too by voting for it in best actor and best supporting actor. Which is awesome.

    But honestly his choices are A+…Zero Dark Thirty for picture and screenplay. Riva for Actress (even though he says Riva may not even live through the ceremony? LOL). Phoenix for Actor. Hoffman for supporting actor. Hathaway for supporting actress. Spielberg for director. The only one that’s a headscratcher is Life of Pi for adapted screenplay…whaaaa???? So utterly confused this season how Tony Kushner became such a longshot for that category…Lincoln is so much more than a “history lesson” or a collection of “soliloquies” like this guy says…

  25. Dan
    February 20, 2013

    ZDT for the win!! It’s the only movie out of the 9 nominees that I actually liked. If I had a ballot I would put ZDT #1 and X out the rest. The director was really spot on for his ranking of the 9 except I would put Argo 8th, Beasts 9th, and Amour 3rd but none of it really matters.

  26. KT
    February 20, 2013

    People on the Hollywood Reporter site are speculating that this was William Friedkin, who praised Compliance and is known for his strong voice. hmmm

  27. zazou
    February 20, 2013

    So what? If this fellow likes ZDT more than the other nominees that is hardly earth-shaking news. If ZDT is going to last over time it has to have universal appeal and I don’t believe that is the case. Life Of Pi, Lincoln , Les Miserables, Argo and maybe SLP will be watched for years to come. Also perhaps this fellow was disappointed by Les Miserables but the film was well received world wide, it’s that universal appeal again.

  28. February 20, 2013

    I saw that Eva Marie Saint thing earlier. Add Eva to this list:

    Robert Downey Jr.
    Jessica Chastain
    Reese Witherspoon
    Mark Ruffalo
    Edward Norton
    Angelina Jolie
    Marion Cotillard

    Get it, gurl!

  29. Bob
    February 20, 2013

    Glad to see someone giving Zero Dark Thirty some love. Kathryn Bigelow should be cruising to her second Best Director and Picture Oscars.

  30. Free
    February 20, 2013

    “And ‘Suddenly’ from Les Miserables is a very boring song and an absolutely blatant attempt to win a best song Oscar; that upsets me”

    - A. Fucking. Men.

  31. Luke
    February 20, 2013

    I hope that after reading this, people will stop getting worked up about not having their favorite film winning because this is the kind of thought and consideration that Academy members are putting into their ballots. Let’s face it, they don’t really care that much. Why should you? I stopped caring after Brokeback lost and I am now enjoying watching the race more than ever. It’s not personal, it’s just the Oscars.

  32. Free
    February 20, 2013

    MORE GOODNESS HERE (I need to meet this guy because we agree on WAY too much):

    “I think one of the worst things about Silver Linings Playbook was its editing; there was a lot of mismatching. Lincoln? There really isn’t much editing to speak of.”

    “Silver Linings is a screenplay; the direction is not particularly important.”

    “Beasts? I know many people loved it, but I got seasick and found it to be almost impossibly boring.”

    “That leaves Lincoln, which I don’t feel is the best-directed film of the year — there’s nothing innovative about it”

    “Plus, Spielberg deserves an Oscar every 10 years or so out of respect for what he does for the industry.” (Hmm, Sasha, did you write this?)

    I won’t post it, but pretty much everything he said in the Supporting Actress & Supporting Actor categories was right on the money, in my opinion, though I didn’t find Hoffman to be as fantastic as he did.

    Conversely, I thought he was almost completely WRONG about all of the screenplay nominees, especially Flight.

  33. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    Friedkin attacking Haneke for being a sadist would be rich, especially when you factor in Killer Joe in addition to Crusing and The Exorcist. I doubt it is him.

    Rod Lurie was notably vocal at his surprise at neither Affleck or Bigelow nominated on twitter, saying he voted for both of them to be nominated so his first line in the Best Director category made me think it was possibly his ballot.

    The only outright issue I have is that this guy still sees the Lincoln screenplay as Spielberg than Kushner and as a reader of Kushner that script was totally Kushner.

  34. M
    February 20, 2013

    I think he’s ignorant. It’s very sad. His few choices are great but the way he thinks is just disrespectful.

  35. Zach
    February 20, 2013

    Chastain is voting for Watts??

    Please let it be the Tilda Swinton shock of the decade.

  36. Bryce Forestieri
    February 20, 2013

    Hahahaha that paragraph is a riot. The kind of people who vote for ZERO DARK THIRTY…

  37. ap
    February 20, 2013

    Zach -

    What’s that???
    About Chastain voting for Watts??

  38. Jerry
    February 20, 2013

    Is The Hollywood Reporting trying to make the public not take the Oscars serious or what? This director is immature, inconsistent, dumb and prejudiced. If he’s representative of the directors branch that’s unfortunate but explains a lot.

  39. kjbacon
    February 20, 2013

    I would have come up with several different choices, but his approach would have also been mine. That’s how people vote for all sorts of things. We are all a pile of bias. It’s why Edgar’s not in the Hall.

  40. Scott
    February 20, 2013

    Because of the vocal actor support for Naomi Watts, does she have a chance of winning this if they deem JLaw too young and Riva not really a player in their arena?

    Denzel Washington in Training Day did not win the SAG but got spotlight from other actors praising his performance and he grabbed the Oscar that year.

    Naomi Watts has been good in many movies. It seems unlikely, especially judging by most of the comments on this site, but maybe she has good will on her side?

  41. February 20, 2013

    Jessica Chastain interrupted Naomi Watts’ interview on E! at the Golden Globes to wax lyrical about her performance. None of it was caught on mic, but she was gushing away in the background. Just another public voice of support for Naomi Watts. She may not actually vote for her, like.

  42. February 20, 2013

    Because of the vocal actor support for Naomi Watts, does she have a chance of winning this if they deem JLaw too young and Riva not really a player in their arena?

    In this case, Jessica Chastain would most likely benefit. But the above ballot shows evident support for Emmanuelle Riva – even those who didn’t like the film (like this voter) still liked Riva’s performance.

  43. Elton Almeida
    February 20, 2013

    Laughed a lot with this. But how the same person who chooses ZD30, Riva, Phoenix, Skyfall votes for the WORST FOREIGN FILM?

  44. Zooey
    February 20, 2013

    But if Watts is so popular, why did she fail to win the SAG Award? Wouldn’t it be more likely?

    On the ballot: the guy’s obviously a jerk. Friendkin makes sense. But I like many of his choices – Riva (even though he hates Amour; how many voters would actually vote for the performance, not the film as well?!), PHOENIX, Hoffman, Roger Deakins, Zero Dark Thirty..

    I like the experiment of guessing votes

    I believe Meryl will go with Riva, Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Hathaway. But she could go with Hoffman and Amy Adams as well. In directing I’d say she would choose Haneke or Lee. I guess Lee appeals to her. And she’s close to Lily Tomlin and we all know what a jerk David O. Russell is. I really wonder if David O. Russell can pull it off when Jason Reitman lost for adapted screenplay when he was considered a lock!

  45. Aaron B
    February 20, 2013

    Completely disagree that Kon-Tiki is the worst foreign film. In fact, I agree with him and would probably vote for it. It’s one of my NGNG picks for sure.

  46. Zach
    February 20, 2013

    Meryl hated working on Death Becomes Her because of all the special effects. I can’t see her voting for Pi.

    This would be too fun a game if you have no time on your hands.

  47. TOM
    February 20, 2013

    I believe that his selections were based on considerate thought.
    I’m in agreement that with the advent of computerization, they need to split the Art Direction category into ‘real’ & ‘computerized.’ It great hard to look at a modern film and decide if the background was constructed or computerized. Past winners for this category: Hugo/Avatar/Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – how much was a legit background and how much was fake? (Compare 1939′s The Wizard of Oz versus the upcoming Oz: The Great & Powerful. I don’t suppose any soundstages were built for this new one.)

    *If this ‘mystery’ voter (director) is in fact Friedkin – I could almost say it is him from his analysis of QWallis’ performance. Seems like the reasoning behind the Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon) win – that shocked Bogdovich, who basically said it was stitched together from her best takes – beating Linda Blair’s performance in the Friedkin directed Exorcist. Since he was sitting in the audience for the 1973 awards to see this truimph – he’d surely have been there when Live and Let Die lost Best Song, deservingly, to The Way We Were. (My choice for a James Bond song win – Nobody Does it Better (1977) – but, hey, that wasn’t going to top You Light Up My Life.

  48. Zach
    February 20, 2013

    The SAG votes with their dicks even more than the Oscars. Naomi wasn’t going to beat Jennifer there.

    I’ll never forget when Julianne Moore got a standing ovation at the SAGs, only to lose on both her nominations at the SAG and Oscars. And I never got to see her win a televised award until this year, 10 years later.

  49. Scotty
    February 20, 2013

    Zach, that’s so true!

    I didn’t think about that regarding Julianne Moore.

    Count me in in saying “Nobody Does it Better” is the best Bond song ever.

  50. daveinprogress
    February 20, 2013

    Another eminent blogger did a study of the average age of the leading actor and actress winners and although DDL is 11 years too old, and Hugh Jackman is spot on at 44 (the leading actor average age) if an upset was going to occur, the averages would have Jackman the winner!

    I think the average was 36 for Actresses. Jessica Chastain would be the perfect age according to Oscar history to win, but if you averaged the two current most talked about contenders – Riva and Lawrence = 54 (since their BAFTA/SAG wins) the actress closest in age to that would be Naomi Watts at 44. If enough AMPAS members think Jennifer is too young/not enough credits to give the Oscar to, or that Riva is not well known enough or deserving (i’m not saying that, please note) then the middle pin could take it – if all that support that people have been reporting is there for Watts (if it is, it hasn’t yet shown up anywhere awards wise) she or Chastain could take it instead. Not akin exactly to Adrien Brody, but a scenario where extremes – of age – an 85, 22, 9 year old are competing (how bizarre is that anyway?), then voters gravitate elsewhere. Both Watts and Chastain gave great performances too.

    I just found it interesting how the average ages of winners worked out.

  51. KT
    February 20, 2013

    I see Meryl as an Amour and Silver Linings Playbook supporter. I’m sure Harvey went to her and made sure she was voting for Weinstein Company movies, especially after he bought her win last year with rampant advertising. I find it interesting that quite a few of her friends are nominated: Best Supporting Actor, for instance: Tommy Lee Jones, Robert De Niro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway, Sally Field. I could see her going for Hathaway, Jones, Riva for Actress, Russell/Haneke for Director, and Silver Linings/Amour for Picture. But who knows?

  52. daveinprogress
    February 20, 2013

    Julieanne Moore and Amy Adams will be the equivalent of the beautiful Deborah Kerr. Nominated time after time, but always beaten by a bigger performer and performance. Both actresses achieve quiet, nuanced character work in their portrayals on film. Perhaps like Kerr, a lifetime achievement by AMPAS will be their only Oscars.

  53. Bryce Forestieri
    February 20, 2013

    Stealing the quote from Criterion’s website since I just saw it and reminded me of this AMPAS Director Branch’s member “brutal honesty”

    “Given the choice of Hollywood or poking steel pins in my eyes, I’d prefer steel pins.” — Mike Leigh

  54. Zach
    February 20, 2013

    If Game Change was a theatrical release, Julianne would have won the Oscar easily.

  55. February 20, 2013

    Odd thing is when I read this earlier, I wondered if it was William Friedkin. lol I don’t know why. I know that I think he’s a hoot. I guess it’s the memory of listening to his commentaries but he was the first director that popped into my head. I said on the other thread that I’d like to get his newsletter but if it’s him, I already get his tweets. :D

    btw, if you didn’t see KILLER JOE, you should know to by now.

  56. Jerry Grant
    February 20, 2013

    This is an awesome interview. Of course, he’s wrong in his hate for lots of the movies, but when he’s right, he’s right. I especially like what he says about Director, and am glad he puts Lincoln and ZDT in the first two slots. I liked his description of Hoffman a lot, and probably would vote for him as well. I admire the vote for Phoenix, but I just can’t not give it to Day-Lewis. It is thoughtful–I hope all voting is as thoughtful.

  57. February 20, 2013
  58. Jerry Grant
    February 20, 2013

    He gives a very clear and convincing rationale for why both Spielberg and Emmanuelle Riva could win.

    The former because of a kind of process of elimination and admiration for the project and the acting. The latter by showing potential irritation towards Lawrence and that even those who don’t like “Amour” could be wowed by the old lady and want her to win.

  59. SeattleMoviegoer
    February 20, 2013

    from interviews and other “making of” documentaries the accompany some of his movies, i have a hunch that this guy is Norman Jewison.

  60. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    The thing about Blair and The Exorcist was that a lot of that performance was Blair had a stand-in and the special effects dummy not to mention the iconic voice work by Mercedes McCambridge. Regan MacNeil, the possessed, is iconic but not really the acting by Blair. Tatum was category fraud, pure and simple. It really should have been Madeline Kahn who won.

  61. keifer
    February 20, 2013

    CMG: I just saw Paper Moon again a few weeks ago. Very underrated film, and Madeline Kahn was wonderful in it, I agree. “Trixie with her big fat tits”. God bless her; she was so great in that movie.

  62. Bryce Forestieri
    February 20, 2013

    “Tommy Lee Jones has been such a bitter guy — all that scowling at the Golden Globes? I’m telling you, people don’t like the guy”


    The likes of Harvard alumnus and Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones probably don’t give the time of day to bums like you.

  63. Ari
    February 20, 2013

    I thought ZDT wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. I don’t understand why people loved it so much. Jessica Chastain was “good” but unconvincing and hard to relate to. There was hardly any story. Just a some Obama bias, talking, etc. But hardly any story to be honest. It felt more like a documentary and just told everything that “happened”. I’m not saying it was bad. It was good. But drags on like a fictional documentary.

  64. Yvette
    February 20, 2013

    It’s encouraging that he’s disdainful of Argo winning BP, and I love his #1 and 2…ZDThirty and Lincoln. And I love his Tarantino and masterbation quote – that’s the best summary of every QT film.
    But he seems so jaded, and that’s disappointing. Because films like Beasts, Pi and even Lincoln require something more intimate as a viewer.
    If it’s Friedkin, I can see because he’s a bit abrasive and unsentimental. But I honestly believe guys like Scorsese, Eastwood etc…are not that cynical and clinical when they watch their peers.

  65. Ari
    February 20, 2013

    Agree with Yvette. I usually find honesty hilarious but it’s one of the reasons why I usually hate myself for watching movies like a miserable critic. He bashed Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi and Amour but his top three movies are unoriginal political dramas (even though I loved Lincoln)? Beasts, Life of Pi and Amour are probably three of my favourites on the list because I honestly would love for stories to come back to movies. Argo and Zero Dark Thirty aren’t bad movies, in fact I liked them, but I don’t understand how people could prefer American biased movies over the power of storytelling.

  66. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    I mean seeing Argo from the Canadian embassy perspective would have been more than welcomed and actually truthful for the mission itself (and his praise is pretty faint saying it was well-directed but unremarkable storytelling). ZD30 really has no other perspective to tell unless you really want a day in the life of UBL or a detainee (And how can we have expectations for Boal to legally obtain that kind of information for a script or even have the chutzpah to even try to have a fictional take on it?). It seems biased against procedurals (some of our best visual stories of the decade be it The Wire and Breaking Bad, I know they are TV programs, are largely built on showing process as much as characters) to say films that are mythic and completely based in fiction are better, more powerful storytelling. I still am feeling moments from ZD30 because it does not just show process but the toll and human cost of the process.

    Saying the Oscars are American-centric is redundant. We should be glad Amour got as many nominations as it did.

  67. Yvette
    February 20, 2013

    I just hope others are not that clinical. It is revealing that he praises the more harsh films like ZD30, which I loved, but was critical of Pi, Beasts and Amour. Amour has real depth – ‘an old lady dying’ completely misses the heart of the film. And Pi and Beasts are imaginative and aesthetically beautiful. Lincoln is cerebral and there is a real affection for the subject and he seems to appreciate and yet resist etc..
    His issues with these particular films seem more a matter of preference than critique. Plus, his comments about Sally Field miss the mark in context to the film and historical detail. Was Sally supposed to play her sexy and affectionate? Or for that matter, was DDL supposed to ….I mean, do what? Sing? Tap dance, cuss and holler, a crying jag…? lol….
    I’m just hopeful by the fact that Argo made very little impact on his choices.

  68. Ari
    February 20, 2013

    @Yvette – Yes that’s the part I agree with you with. It’s like he’s made his decisions based on the films’ exteriors but never really looks deeper into them. He dissed Life of Pi‘s ending but I thought it was the part that cemented my love for it because the ambiguity was left to our own individual perceptions and spirituality/scepticism.

    @CMG – Well I didn’t mean to say how American centric it was, it’s just something I said because I guess I’m frustrated that the three frontrunners are political dramas when there are better movies. Perhaps I long for a frontrunner with a story like Eternal Sunshine but those sort of movies hardly grab any attention. Although I slightly disagree with your view on Zero Dark Thirty because I wasn’t really moved by it. I love war movies but this film felt more like a portrayal of a procedure and didn’t really leave an impact on me. And I’m just questioning how this harsh critic loved it so much really…

  69. daveinprogress
    February 20, 2013

    I read the whole piece – some interesting comments that at least give some validity to hunches about the way AMPAS members think – at least one anonymous such voter. He seems very conflicted with Lincoln – he likes it in parts, respects Spielberg and Kennedy, feeling he SHOULD support it where he can. And yet he is also quite dismissive of many of the filmmakers choices.
    I think he is correct that DDL is a cert. The Tommy Lee Jones thing seems very personal and uses the Globe scowl as a reason to dismiss one of the actor’s best performances on screen. Although i too would love to see Hoffman win, it is telling that many of his comments are just as inherently subjective and biased as anybody else’s. Holding the Academy up to being great arbiters is foolhardy, as they are swayed and manipulated the same as ordinary folk. But there are plenty of professional swipes in there, clouding perhaps his ‘judging’ of a film’s merits or the value of a performance. Scores to settle or people to reward. I guess it confirms what many of us have always thought and criticsed the Academy for. But that’s who they are and what they do. I did think his assessment of Pi’s editing was a bit dim. Myself having worked a lot in edit suites – ‘coverage’ that is reems of takes is no more arduous than treating material with effects – they are all still choices in editing – it showed more his distate for effects laden films, as opposed to the more conventional forms of storytelling. That’s his right i guess, but hopefully he saw Hugo and Life of Pi and sees what the technology can do especially in the hands of visionary film makers.

  70. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    Well I was not moved by the American images in ZD30 with exception to the last scene. In fact, it was the images of the first detainee Ammar and the children in the compound that hit me the most.

    And I think to call any of them, Lincoln, Argo or ZD30, political is mis-categorizing all of them since I see no overt orientation with any of them, even if Argo’s insistence on rehabilitating Jimmy Carter is a little bizarre. All have something to do with process and all three seem to try to say something about the period. I feel like only two succeed or get it right and neither is the front-runner for the Oscar. Argo being the front-runner has more to do with its relationship to Hollywood and the changing Hollywood than invoking any of the dour ’70s, post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era America. It is a ‘silver lining’, hopeful kind of movie that feels disingenuous for its era.

    Lincoln shows something done for the greater good and shows it was not nearly as glamorous or cleanly triumphed. It ends in hagiography, sure, but I really did not see it as the sentimental, shlocky film other people thought of it as. Zero Dark Thirty shows what was done and arguably questions whether or not it was all worth it in the end with how it leaves the lead character. Those two are adult movies not made enough. I like Eternal Sunshine too, and I think those types of films will be available to voters next year with certain directors having their new films out, and there is certainly room for both kinds of movies. I find Argo more problematic in not really aiming for anything except for entertainment when the backdrop is much more complex and serious. That film will be a model than the other such nominees and I am bracing for the imitations to follow.

    Yvette, I would say Amour is as harsh as Zero Dark Thirty, if not more because it hits on a more personal level- which is why is scares a lot of AMPAS voters from even considering watching the screeners. It is very much a primer to Haneke’s much darker view of life and people in other films, even if by his standards it is a humane film (which again I like a lot but I much prefer Cache and The White Ribbon). Amour is devastating in the way Umberto D. and The Bicycle Thieves are. Simple on paper, but devastating human stories that have such incredible precision in effecting viewers from their filmmakers. I was always skeptical in how AMPAS would respond to the film because Haneke’s track record is spotty with the Academy. I definitely think this is really the standard view of Haneke films by most of AMPAS, which by the way, a lot of critics hold as well. Which makes me want to send a gift basket to Sony Pictures Classics for the feat in them getting the film 5 nominations in the first place. I am sure the people on Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained wished those people worked on their campaigns.

  71. christiannnw
    February 20, 2013

    If the Academy doesn’t please me by choosing my fantasy Oscar roster (ZD30, Spielberg, Riva, Day-Lewis, Hunt, Jones, Kushner, Boal), at least they’ll have given me a consolation prize: “Alphabet Wallis”.

  72. Yvette
    February 20, 2013

    Excellent analysis of Amour. I guess I was reacting to the anonymous director’s simplistic comment about an ‘an lady dying’.
    I agree, simple on paper but soulfully, painfully raw and true. I truly believed this year’s Oscar race would be a throw down between Lincoln, ZDThirty, Amour, Life of Pi and maybe Beasts (and The Master before the noms were announced) All worthy, visionary, evocative, provocative and passionate films. And all have been overshadowed by a percieved snub. That has become the storyline this awards season and that is a tragedy. The industry had the chance to revel and recognize greatness, and they settled.

  73. February 20, 2013

    Yvette, I hope you hang around past Oscar night. You’ll like the attitude around here when we can put all this petty oscar politics behind us. The whole site goes through rejuvenation in the Spring. Just wait till you see Sasha’s gorgeous reports from Cannes! That’s when we really begin to unleash our unbounded passions and revel in movie greatness again. We have new features and new focus planned before Cannes too. Hang tight. This year’s fiasco is over soon.

  74. Unlikely hood
    February 20, 2013

    Brett Ratner?

  75. CMG
    February 20, 2013

    It’s a shame there was some honesty by the directors branch in actually wanting to honor who they perceived as the best director jobs (though I still think they were beholden to the charms of Harvey Weinstein than Russell’s direction and the torture controversy of Bigelow, in addition to the all-boys network going on there) and people freaked out over the wrong person for the pettiest of reasons. Bigelow’s non-nomination, that transcended the usual Oscars politics involved in people getting passed over, took a back seat to the ‘prom king’ getting ‘snubbed’. I was hopeful that this would mean a more spread out race with the two perceived front-runners of the category out but with some awards feeling they needed to also build consensus that it could produce some interesting results. I thought that would mean an eclectic group of winners among the industry and guilds for director. The opposite. Clean sweep for Affleck. It was instead a statement. But the ‘Up yours, Academy!’ spirit by the industry (and some Oscar bloggers who turned into full-fledged Argonauts) to me just came off as, ‘This handsome, A-list, rich guy who made a movie that will be a weekend staple on TNT got ignored in favor of some random kid from Wesleyan and an Austrian sadist. How dare our guy not get his second act even if he was already swimming in piles of money and had a supportive, photogenic family unit’. Affleck being ‘snubbed’ and ‘poor Ben’ sentiment just comes off closer to the typical Hollywood tone-deafness that would have fit perfectly in the universe that Arkin and Goodman’s characters make fun of in Argo.

    I agree with Danny Bowes’ sentiment that something needs to be written about this Oscar season. Not just some piece. A whole damn book on this season. I would love an oral history. I would just read a piece on ZD30 (hopefully Ellison, Boal, and Bigelow are in no projects with Sony so they can hold nothing back in an interview) but overall, this is just the weirdest of seasons.

  76. Christophe
    February 20, 2013

    ok now what was “the religious message at the end of Life of Pi”? I was put off too by the ending but it was on the contrary because I felt it was irreligious, dismissing religion as pure fantasy, a beautiful story that people invent to make themselves and others feel better, which I think is way too simplistic and demeaning, quite disappointing after such an elightening and open minded film.

  77. Zooey
    February 20, 2013

    @ Yvette,

    the very least Scorsese is a passionate film lover and has great knowledge of the art and history of cinema, so I can trust him voting here. But imagine Jennifer Anniston’s ballot or the ballot Jamie Foxx turns in.

  78. Jade Fox
    February 20, 2013

    This guy is an ignorant asshole. How can a motherfucking DIRECTOR not know the importance of sound mixing, especially in postproduction? Any director worth their salt should understand the intricacies of the filmmaking process and be aware of how many people are needed to shape the pieces that the director will eventually try to put together the best way possible.

    And not voting on an actress because you can’t pronounce her name and being upset over another one for making a joke on a sketch comedy show? No wonder Joaquin Phoenix said awards season is bullshit. He was right and he got made out to look “ungrateful” for not wanting to play the game. Can you blame him after reading this?

    Kris from In Contention was right. This isn’t brutal honesty, it’s a person exposing their ignorance.

    And CMG your post speaks volumes of truth. A director did get wrongly snubbed yes, but it wasn’t Affleck and you wonderfully summed up why. And I have to laugh when people say “Well Bigelow already has an Oscar” when anyone points out her snub was worse and goes into actual politics and fake controversies. Last I checked Ben has an Oscar of his own and is clearly a man with pull in the industry, as well as the wealth and A List status and a pretty family. Why should we cry for him again?

  79. Guest
    February 21, 2013

    This guy is an idiot. Not voting for someone based on whether he liked them on Saturday Night Live or whether they didn’t smile enough at the Golden Globes, or god forbid, has a name that’s more than one syllable? I can see why more Academy voters aren’t brutally honest if they all display this level of mind-boggling ineptitude in their voting.

  80. nixon
    February 21, 2013

    Religious message in life of pi???

  81. Nic V
    February 21, 2013

    Well reading this piece and the entire story it came off too me more as a Saturday Night Live skit. I could actually visualize his filling out the ballot on Saturday Night Live. It’s funny but at the same time it’s rather dissappointing. It has a lot of great punch lines but it does reveal a great deal of ignorance and a lack of compassnion for the feelings of the people he’s referring too. My guess is that if this man is truly as brutally honest as he suggest he might be then why didn’t he allow his name to be attached to the article? That’s in my opinion the act of a coward. You can go to that extreme and ridicule your industry and do it a way where you are essentially a ghost writer. It didn’t take any courage to write that piece. If he lives his life like that article my guess is he don’t have many friends. With good reason.

    He does have some insight but if you’re going to do that then have the guts to attach your name to it. Then you can call yourself Brutally Honest.

  82. Kane
    February 21, 2013

    This guy basically reaffirmed how ignorant a lot of members can be but also showed (at least in his case) that when they like something they really like it. “Up until this second I didn’t know Beasts was adapted” made me crack up. I loved Django but “It’s Quentin Tarantino masturbating for 3 hours” was hysterical too…and put many unpleasantries in my head. I do admire his support for ZD30 and calling SLP for what it is, a good script with O. Russell seeing that Cooper is a great actor, nothing more than that.

  83. TOM
    February 21, 2013

    If the Academy changed the rules in regards to not having to see all 5 Foreign Language films, they should institute that rule for the Best Short (Animated & Documentary) categories. Nobody in the movie going audiences knows/sees any of these because they’re usually not shown in theaters at the time. It’s unsettling that this mystery voter claims that he hadn’t seen any of the Best Short Animated features ‘but I’ve heard good things about Paperman.’ Well, a vote is a vote so it looks like good word-of-mouth/PR barrage can get you And ‘John Williams has enough f***in’ Oscars…?’ Where the merit for that statement? Sure the Lincoln score was rehashed leftovers…but if it wasn’t?
    @CMG – I’m fully aware of the whole Blair/Mercedes/Exorcist ordeal. With the space provided in the previous post – while trying to uncover the identity of this mystery voter – if I deducted it was Friedkin was his comments about the QWallis performance – I just imagined him being in the 1973 (and I’m sure that he was super-competitive about PBog-having bested him in the ’71 Director category.) I figured that (for him) seeing a PBog directed O’Neal win over his Blair directed win – he could easily undermine it as the stitched together patchwork of her best moments…thus, his…this same comparison (lingering bitterness?) could be his view of the Beasts performance. (*If O’Neal had been placed in lead – I’d vote Blair over Kahn…with or without Mercedes’ hidden assistance. If Portman can win for her 99% ballet skills (psy!), so can Blair.)

  84. February 21, 2013
  85. Leni
    February 21, 2013

    Fascinating, but also scary. I hope this isn’t how all oscar voters are. At least not the “i haven’t seen it but hear it’s good” or “I like steven” attitudes!

  86. Bryce Forestieri
    February 21, 2013

    Who in their right mind would think the director of THE EXORCIST, THE BOYS IN THE BAD, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, and freaking SORCERER of such all-around cinematic ignorance. Apologize now.

  87. rufussondheim
    February 21, 2013

    Glad it’s not Friedkin. After all he cast my babysitter as a serial killer! I knew such a guy couldn’t be all bad.

  88. smith
    February 21, 2013

    I’m With M and Jade Fox and some of the others on here. There is nothing remotely interesting, funny or “honest” about this ignorant douchebag’s ballot. The only reason Sasha and others like this is because he likes their pet favorites of Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Riva. His mocking of Wallis’ name and performance is juvenile and disgusting, not funny or “honest.”

    This is a guy who voted for Riva simply because she “might die” – yet he hated Amour and hates Haneke. He’s voting against Lawrence because he hated her SNL skit (which was part of a satirical comedy show).

    He basically gave the game away and is admitting that nothing in the Academy has changed – if you are on older actor/actress who gives a marginal performance you will win or get nominated simply because you “might die” and we want to give you a Career Achievement Award.

    Also, as mentioned above, the fact that he doesn’t seem to know or care about the sound in a film shows his glaring ignorance. Reminds me of the documentary voters who refused to watch all the documentaries and just voted anyway.

  89. Yvette
    February 21, 2013

    Thanks for the invite. I was originally drawn to this site after I saw Lincoln for the first time and had to share how I felt about it. And here, with you and Sasha, I found that place.
    But honestly, I was starting to wonder what you guys do after Oscar season: maybe fall into some sort of post-Oscar withdrawal and anti-climax?
    But nice to know you guys Stay Hungry. I actually think this kind of passionate debate, even when it gets a little snarky, is invigorating and reminds me of why I used to love reading Pauline Kael. We feel passionate about movies. That’s never a bad thing.

  90. Charlotte
    February 21, 2013

    Jeeez, what an asshole. Brutally honest..yeah, right. So, why not let us know who you are?, why hide like a coward behind anonymity?. I can’t believe this crap, not voting for someone because you can’t pronounce their name?? , not voting for someone because of a SNL skit that was written for the host?…oh, and not voting because you didn’t like the fact that the actor wasn’t smiling?. Wow, that’s really lame.

  91. rufussondheim
    February 21, 2013

    Yvette – the site actually becomes about the movies! We may not agree on Lincoln, but please stick around. You are smarter than I like to give you credit!

  92. Nic V
    February 21, 2013

    I’d just like to point out that I am an avid Lincoln supporter and I did not find this individuals ballot in the least to my liking. Generalizations like that really never work.

  93. Yvette
    February 21, 2013

    Ah Rufus,
    I think of you as a younger brother whom I want to slap upside the head when you say silly things. But if we just not discuss Lincoln, this could be the beginning of a …..
    And I love musicals.

  94. Kane
    February 22, 2013

    Yvette, things die down heavily after Oscar season and there’s this air of :WHEW:! It’s always sad for me when I have to turn off the Oscar telecast at the end of the night but I like waking up and wondering what Sasha and Ryan will post the next morning. Luckily there are festivals all year-round and we get great coverage on the good ol’ AD.

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