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A Glimpse Into The Mind Of An Oscar Voter's Ballot Is Depressing, Hilarious & Eye-Opening

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by Kevin Jagernauth
February 20, 2013 3:56 PM
37 Comments
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Academy Award

So, here we are. You've spent months and months, hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on campaigning, throwing parties, hosting screenings, gladhanding, working the circuit and more, all in the hopes of convincing Academy members first to nominate and then to vote for your films. You want to think everyone is voting with integrity, looking to honor the very best in film for the year. But the truth is that politics, personal emotion, odd reasoning and sometimes just plain bad taste are all factors as well, and just four days until the Oscar are handed out, a rather bracing glimpse at the mind of one Oscar voter is eye-opening stuff.

THR has the ballot and comments from the anonymous director (though seriously bro, if you're gonna do this man up and reveal thyself) and it's both funny, terrifying and sad. It's also pretty long, so let's just dive into the choicest bits. Some of it is funny, some of it is a little petty, but when you get to Best Picture and read how this person decided on the ranking, it's just kinda flat out depressing. Read on.....

Best Short (Live Action) -- Voted for "Curfew": “ 'Curfew' is the least depressing of five films guaranteed to prevent you from getting laid, as I personally learned.” 

Best Director -- Voted for Steven Spielberg: "I would have voted for [Kathryn] Bigelow -- I certainly nominated her and [Ben] Affleck. 'Silver Linings [Playbook]' is a screenplay; the direction is not particularly important -- although it took David O. Russell to figure out that Bradley Cooper is a great actor. 'Life of Pi' is very well-directed and extremely well-thought-out, but I was put off by the religious message at the end. 'Beasts [Of The Southern Wild]'? I know many people loved it, but I got seasick and found it to be almost impossibly boring. 'Amour' is purely a performance piece; besides, 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. That leaves 'Lincoln,' which I don’t feel is the best-directed film of the year -- there’s nothing innovative about it -- but I’m swept away with the gravity of the subject matter, with the respect that Spielberg showed to it..."

Best Costume Design -- Voted for "Snow White & The Huntsman": "This always goes to the nominee with the puffiest dresses...I just don’t want to support 'Anna Karenina,' even though it’s probably going to win because it’s exactly the kind of movie that does win this award; people who haven’t even seen the film are going to vote for it because it just has that smell. But I’m gonna go for 'Snow White' because you had the knights in the shining armor and then you had the more mythical costumes and on and on. I think it was just a little bit more inventive than the others.”

Best Cinematography -- Voted for Roger Deakins, "Skyfall": "Now, I’m a person who knows that Roger Deakins shot 'Skyfall,' but a lot of people in the Academy will have no clue who did because they don’t tell you on the ballot; in fact, they won’t vote for it because it’s a James Bond film -- you know, ‘How can you give James Bond an Oscar?’ But they should go back and rewatch that opening shot where Bond is approaching the camera, and he’s out-of-focus and he slams into focus in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I also really love the way that Deakins plays with dark and light in the film.”

Best Supporting Actress -- Voted for Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables": "Amy Adams is going to be nominated 20 more times, but this one’s a total throwaway role. Which leaves Anne Hathaway, who’s going to win because she makes you cry and because I find her charming. Sometimes it’s one scene that wins it for you. Not just anybody can come in and kill one song..."

Best Actress -- Voted for Emmanuell Riva, "Amour": "I also don’t vote for anyone whose name I can’t pronounce. Quvez---? Quzen---? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name -- Alphabet Wallis. The truth is, it’s a very sweet but immature performance from a 9-year-old. I’ve directed children. They probably did a thousand takes and put the best ones together." 

Best Original Song -- Voted for Adele, "Skyfall": “This is No-Brainer City: ‘Skyfall’ is one of the best songs that has ever been in the best song category and Adele is fucking brilliant. Plus I think it’s about time that a James Bond song won best song. In a way, this is my F-you for not giving it to ‘Live and Let Die’ back in 1973...If ‘Skyfall’ does not win I will fillet my next-door neighbor’s dog.”

Best Adapted Screenplay -- Voted for "Life Of Pi": "It’s a rather strong category, but I’m partial to 'Life of Pi' because we all thought that it was an unfilmable book, and yet David Magee came up with a way to structure it that was faithful to the book but also cinematic. 'Lincoln' was a little too much of a history lesson. Plus, I thought the opening scene with the black soldier and the scene featuring Tommy Lee Jones’ character and his maid were both very contrived, and that the ending, as is so often the case in Spielberg’s movies, was overkill...And I didn’t understand what was going on in 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'; up until this very second I didn’t even realize it was an adapted screenplay.”

Best Original Screeplay -- Voted for "Zero Dark Thirty": “ 'Amour' is immediately disqualified—it’s just a woman dying, and there’s no real story, and it made me feel like shit. There’s only so much diaper-changing that I can tolerate. 'Django [Unchained]'? If [Quentin] Tarantino had never made a film and this was his first screenplay, I might consider voting for him, but he’s made the same movie eight times."

Best Foreign Lanuage Film -- Voted For "Kon-Tiki": "I’ve seen all of the nominees at official Academy screenings held over the past few weeks. You go into that theater, you sit there, you look around, and you just hope that there’s an ambulance outside because a lot of the members in attendance must have aged out of AARP at this point. I really wonder if these people are going to vote for 'Amour,' because they’re really looking at themselves and they’ve gotta be saying, ‘This is what’s in my future? This is f---ing depressing.’ It’s depressing for people who are dying and for people who have to take care of people who are dying. It’s like, who needs that shit? I personally didn’t care for it."

Best Picture -- Voted for "Lincoln": “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? 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.”  

Hooray for the Oscars? We guess the whole "[insert movie] doesn't deserve to win the Oscar" is used because that tactic works. And if anything, it solidifies the common notion that Academy voters like well-meaning movies, even if they are a "bore." Any guesses on who this director is? Your thoughts? Share them with us below.

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37 Comments

  • Lisa | February 24, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    I don't find this the least bit surprising.

  • Brandon | February 22, 2013 12:57 AMReply

    A few posters have been "stunned" at how this voter actually voted for best picture just to block out other films from winning. Frequently studios "quietly ask" their talent to vote just for their film--and leave off other films. So if you liked or were involved in "The Artist" last year, for example, you purposely didn't select other films or vote what you thought was 2nd best...second. This isn't as rampant as in TV, when guild members of HBO shows were rumored to have not voted for any other networks' shows when sending in their Emmy vote. What the Oscars and Emmys should do is simply have a system of voting for a single film/TV show...the "rating" system they used is purposely manipulated so people don't vote for their competition. No one ranks their competition "2nd" even if they honestly believe it's the 2nd best work... System=failure.

  • Kelly | February 22, 2013 1:01 AM

    And what if everyone's 2nd choice--but no one's first--ended up winning. It seems like a strange system. A movie that gets less first place votes can win Best Picture (or Best Television Show at the Emmys) simply by racking up extra 2nd/3rd place votes, etc. So in theory if two movies were close in voting--and one got more first place votes but the other got almost as many 1st place votes but more 2nd place votes--that movie could win. It's like an electoral college of voting. It helps to come in first--but you can win by getting points in another way

  • Alex | February 21, 2013 3:24 PMReply

    Is Brett Ratner a member of the Academy? Cause this sounds like it could be his his internal monologue.

  • MJ | February 21, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    "'Silver Linings [Playbook]' is a screenplay; the direction is not particularly important" --- yeah, one it isn't a visually inert film, but especially important: director's that time & time again get excellent performances from actors (especially those actors you don't expect to deliver) obviously have a real knack for direction.

  • chris | February 21, 2013 7:41 AMReply

    sounds more like Mel Gibson to me.

  • CL | February 21, 2013 6:22 AMReply

    Just read the entire piece and found it amusing and not at all disgusting, wrong or whatever. It's funny and just the way I always thougth it would be. There's a reason so many people in that town don't really care about the Oscars. If they don't care neither should you. What I would really like to read is the ballots for all those high minded, serious, it's all about the art critics awards because I don't really think they are all that different, but they like to pretend they are.

  • Jerry | February 24, 2013 1:46 PM

    Jeez, Tom. Get a life.

  • Tom | February 21, 2013 11:24 AM

    "What I would really like to read is the ballots for all those high minded, serious, it's all about the art critics awards because I don't really think they are all that different, but they like to pretend they are."

    An assertion that's impossible to prove - and which thus only serves the purpose of assuaging your own ego. You "knock down" those "high minded" critics (that you inexplicably feel threatened by) by pretending that they are all secretly on the same level as you. You view them as arrogant or pretentious - in reality, it's far more arrogant or pretentious to assume that anyone who approaches film in a different way than you is only pretending. "I can't think about movies like that - therefore they can't either!"

    In other words: "There's no way anyone could actually take a high-minded approach to cinema. All those people who actually bother to approach film as an art form are only pretending. In reality, they all think on the same level as me and this guy. Never mind that the best critics actually bother to study the art form they're writing about, and never mind that they consistently write intelligent and insightful commentary - they must only be pretending, because that's what I like to think and it makes me feel better."

    You don't have any evidence for it - you just "know" that everyone secretly thinks like you and the idiot quoted in this "story." Your words represent one of the most common - and harmful - forms of anti-intellectualism ("harmful" because you seek to deny the reality of expertise.)

    Hint: There are actually people who have studied film and who appreciate it on a different level than you. That doesn't make them better or smarter, nor does it mean that their taste is "more objective" or whatever (since taste is a subjective thing) - but it does mean that different people are, in fact, capable of thinking about movies differently. I can guarantee that there are at least some "high minded" critics who have never once thought "I won't vote for Quvenzhané Wallis because I can't pronounce her name," nor would they take such a condescending, snarky attitude towards people with unusual names/elderly people/etc.

    (I get that it's all supposed to be in "good fun" - and I don't have any problem with anyone not taking the Oscars seriously, since the Oscars are, by and large, a joke - but this director's words paint an ugly picture of his own mindset, just as your words reveal much about your own presumptuousness, arrogance, and anti-intellectualism.)

  • HEY BUDDY | February 20, 2013 11:09 PMReply

    This is kind of how I imagined them picking the awards anyway.

  • ash | February 20, 2013 8:50 PMReply

    I'm not a big fan of Amour,but this quote really....I don't know how to describe it,just makes me laugh so hard,I don't even know if it's in a good way or a bad way.

    "'Amour' is immediately disqualified—it’s just a woman dying, and there’s no real story, and it made me feel like shit. "

  • Oogle monster | February 20, 2013 8:29 PMReply

    Anyone who finds ANNE HATHAWAY "charming" is immediately wrong.

  • sharpie | February 20, 2013 9:08 PM

    oogle monster, you are always trashing Anne Hathaway. Stop being an anonymous troll and get a life. Do you go on other boards to bash Hathaway? I am sure you do, because you are obsessed with her. I find it very funny, after reading this ludicrous analysis, ridiculous reasoning, and hatefulness of this director ( and Academy member) , all you can come away with " Anne Hathaway is charming. " You are scary, whoever you are. Get some help, ASAP .

  • a.p | February 20, 2013 8:35 PM

    I second that

  • SEAN | February 20, 2013 8:09 PMReply

    This is so tasteless & classless in every sense of the words. I cant even fathom what I just read. LIKE WHAT THE FLYING FUCK?!?!??!

    I'm really disgusted. Whoever this ass wipe of a person is needs to go away forever. Where is the thinking about the art? The commentary about the actual piece of work & the meaning these films have sent out to do.... His whole diagnosis is so disturbing, where is the sophistication in your replies where is the deep insight into the films & nominees?!?!

    ""I don't vote for anyone's name I cant pronounce"" WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! Ru fucking kidding me u asshole, that's just pathetic.... Not to mention how he voted for a film to win not b/c he thought it was deserving, but b/c he wanted to BLOCK another film from winning.... WOW just WOW. No wonder some of the greatest actors EVER have reacted so harshly to the Academy members...

  • BEF | February 20, 2013 9:26 PM

    *doesn't care about the nominated films in the category, I mean.

    How dare they?

    Hey everybody, if you make your own list each year of what you think should win, maybe you'll feel better.

  • BEF | February 20, 2013 9:22 PM

    Did you read the entire post at The Hollywood Reporter? If you do, you'll see that The Playlist is cherry-picking sections of quotes and not including all of it ... but more importantly you'll see in his choices for Cinematography, Actor, Supporting Actor, etc that when it seems like he is passionate about a certain aspect he keeps the snark in check and says nice things about them. The one where he's being an asshole he probably doesn't care about the category.

    Think about message boards, people do this all the time -- who cares about this movie? Why is everyone talking about this movie -- nothing happened!!, etc etc ... but when you really do appreciate and like something, you make more coherent points.

    This guy's doing the same thing, except because he's talking about Oscars his not constant praise sounds asshole-ish (although voting for Paperman without seeing anything is crummy).

    When he's writing about Deakins, Phoenix, Hoffman, Boal, Adele, he gives them marks. Perhaps the rest he's not passionate about, so why not make jokes?

  • Stranger | February 20, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    What a dipshit.

  • Real | February 20, 2013 6:29 PMReply

    What an unpleasant person. Crap like this reminds me exactly what a joke the whole process is and how correct Katherine Hepburn and Woody Allen were not to take these awards seriously.

  • coke | February 20, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    I truly believe this is William Friedkin... And I have to admit, even though he sounds like a jerk sometimes the guy made some very good choices.

  • Alan B | February 21, 2013 2:26 AM

    I don't believe it is Friedkin because of the way he speaks about Tommy Lee Jones. He's worked with Jones before, and - whilst I can understand someone not liking Jones after working with him - the director speaks as if he doesn't really know Jones: "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." If Friedkin didn't like Jones, he wouldn't have suggested that "people" don't like him, I don't think.

  • THOR | February 20, 2013 5:26 PMReply

    The guy behind the comments is a disgusting populist who thinks he's a funny guy, and doesn't sound Jewish or British also. Probably some hack like Taylor Hackford or Rob Marshall.

  • Jiff | February 20, 2013 5:34 PM

    Whoever he/she is, they're right on the money regarding QT and Django.

  • Seti | February 20, 2013 5:13 PMReply

    The manner in which The Playlist just shamelessly regurgitates the content of other websites is quite amusing.

    I wonder what sort of lies the staff tell their parents when asked about what they do at work.

  • myk | February 25, 2013 1:49 AM

    Your first name is the first name of a joker recruit in TDK. You're crazy an inadmissible in the court of film with a credible opinion.

  • Glass | February 20, 2013 4:36 PMReply

    Would shit myself if this was Sofia Coppola's ballot

  • Chris | February 20, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    I was going to say Kevin Smith, but there's not enough of his panache in the writing here (I'd expect one "snootchi bootchies" to slip out)

  • Puaena | February 20, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    I imagined Peter Bogdanovich talking as I read the article so he's my guess. I don't know but I loved the thought process with all its bias and humor. And points all over to the guy for choosing Phoenix for Best Actor.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | February 21, 2013 7:45 AM

    Following up on Ken's comment about Bogdanovich and QT:

    http://carpetbagger.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/tarantino-unveils-django-the-shortest-long-western/

  • Alan B | February 21, 2013 2:33 AM

    No way it's Bogdanovich. If it were, EVERY answer would have been prefaced with "Orson said to me ..." or "John (Huston) once told me ..." I don't think that guy can write a sentence without namedropping someone. Or - if he's being interviewed - he'll do at least 20 impersonations, whether warranted or not.

  • huffy | February 20, 2013 8:19 PM

    I doubt this is anyone older than 40. These don't sound like the petty snipes of a 70-something director but ones that's you'd hear on a message board. Besides I have enough faith that Bogdanovich wouldn't refer to Amy Adams' role as "throwaway". Even if you didn't like the movie it's pretty hard to argue that she wasn't excellent and the role important to the film even if it is in the background of Hoffman and Phoenix (hence the "Supporting" moniker).

  • Puaena | February 20, 2013 5:21 PM

    To KEN: Friedkin sounds much more logical as a guess. And now that you mention it about positivity, Bogdanovich would probably be nicer about Wallis since he directed Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon. So yes, changing my guess to Friedkin.

  • Ken | February 20, 2013 4:40 PM

    One of the THR comments mentioned William Friedkin and that makes perfect sense to me. Definitely sounds like an older guy and Bogdanovich, to me, has always seemed like a positive guy. Plus, he loves Wes Anderson and Tarantino. It has to be Friedkin. The guy just doesn't give a fuck. His comments kind of remind me of how he was portrayed in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.

  • Tom | February 20, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    Sounds like Brett Ratner to me.

  • Brett Ratner | February 20, 2013 4:27 PM

    Fag, you got me. Me and my bromigo Mike Bay wrote the same thing on our ballots, so it coulda been his. I gotta bounce, gotta fuck a bitch at a strip club. LATES!

  • geoff | February 20, 2013 4:24 PM

    Was gonna say that.

  • yer | February 20, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    Yawn comments are obviously trying to be provocative. Whose ballot is this, Lars Von Trier?

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