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Anonymous Oscar Ballot: Producer Says Oscar Voters Tend Toward ‘Political Correctness’ and ‘Laziness’

Our Academy voter candidly shares their thought process as they ponder their Oscar ballot.

“The Shape of Water”

Here’s another in our series of interviews with a swath of Academy voters from different branches for their candid thoughts on what got picked, overlooked, and overvalued this year. 

With the nominations, everything followed the politically coolest version and will continue to do so. Any surprises will lean toward political correctness this year. We’re supposed to judge 100 per cent on merit, not 90 per cent and 10 per cent who is in the middle of a controversy [James Franco], who is deserving because their race or gender has been under-represented in the past.

The one fault the Academy has had in the last 10 or 15 years is not that it’s racist or gender-weighted. The biggest offense is that [Academy voters] are not doing their homework, not seeing the movies. There’s not a bias, there’s a tendency for laziness, to check the same old box, whether its Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep. Something needs to done to make sure the movies are seen!

DAVID PARFITT, DONNA GIGLIOTTI, HARVEY WEINSTEIN, GWYNETH PALTROW, EDWARD ZWICK AND MARC NORMAN.OSCAR AWARD CEREMONY, AMERICA - 1999

David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Zwick and Marc Norman all won Oscars for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999.

REX/Shutterstock

I’m as guilty as the majority of the Academy for not going deeper into the film work of the entire year. I thought “Mudbound” [director Dee Rees] was really deserving of a Best Director nod.

What you don’t want to happen to the Academy is what happens to the rest of a political system: that the people who are backed the heaviest, have the best financial backing and publicists and ground game, are the ones getting the nominations. Is it a coincidence, the whole Harvey Weinstein thing? Were his movies [like “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat”] really that good? He campaigned the best.

4106_D013_00374_CROP(ctr) Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright's DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release.Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

“Darkest Hour”

Jack English

Best Picture

I think the bar is medium high this year. The movies are good, not great. Boundaries have been pushed. We’re always looking to break new ground and tell new stories and do it in a way that hasn’t been done before. It’s not the most exceptional version of what we’ve had in the past, but we’ve gotten some exciting, bold films this year. Eight out of the nine movies are strong and original voices. The only one that’s a retread is “The Post.”

I like “Darkest Hour.” There were things in that movie that we’ve never seen or expected from that type of film. Look at Joe Wright’s track record: he’s a good director whose movies have gotten lot of praise and recognition, yet he’s unthanked. I put his film near the top of the group.

 

 

I do think politics creeps into the outcome. For that reason, “The Shape of Water” becomes the Best Picture winner by default. I don’t think the Academy is going to give Best Picture to the movie about racist cops [“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”]. It’s also possibly Sally Hawkins. People don’t look at the fact that the foreign and especially the UK membership can swing things and buck the trend. If “The Shape of Water” wins, it gets that European vote.

There’s stink on “Three Billboards.” It definitely won’t get Best Picture. It doesn’t have director: it’s not “Argo.”

“Dunkirk” could be a lot of people’s second choice. “Dunkirk” is in the top three. To me it’s “Shape,” “Billboards” and “Dunkirk” on a lot of ballots.

I don’t see “Get Out” in the top three. “Get Out” is not Best Picture enough. “Moonlight” was in the conversation the whole season. “Get Out” is a smart movie but it doesn’t quite have the sophistication the Academy sometimes gravitates towards, it’s a little too commercial. It has no shot at Best Picture, especially in light of the new European-centric membership breakdown.

Jordan Peele in his Los Feliz office.

Anne Thompson

Original Screenplay

“Get Out” is the favorite.

Adapted Screenplay

It’s “Call Me By Your Name.”

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro [“The Shape of Water”] is a lock. This year the Academy is going to vote safer, after so much political controversy, make the safe choices. The default safe choice is Guillermo and “The Shape of Water.”

Greta Gerwig may not win anything. That would be sad. “Lady Bird” is the upset possibility with the Academy at large. They could go with Greta, who has such a strong team behind her, led by Liz Mahoney. She’s so likable. I might change my mind and make her my upset pick. Actors are stronger than the WGA in the Academy.

Best Actor

Gary Oldman is a lock.

Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand accepting her SAG award for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Best Actress

It’s probably going to be Fran [McDormand]. It’s not a 100 per cent lock but it’s pretty close. Sally Hawkins [“The Shape of Water”] or Margot Robbie [“I, Tonya”] are a possibility. Sally has a chance.

I don’t think “Three Billboards” is going to get a lot of love. This is one category where they have to give it to them. I love a movie that keeps you guessing. Everything Wesley Morris [The New York Times] hates about the movie, I like and respect. The characters are complicated and difficult. It’s extremely well-written and directed. The movie deals with something that is hard, when you step away, to root for — that kind of racist. There’s a possibility of an upset there.

Willem DafoeThe Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Feb 2018

Willem Dafoe at the 2018 Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Supporting Actor

It will effect Sam Rockwell [“Three Billboards”]. The one possible upset surprise could be Willem Dafoe. He’s a three-time nominee, well-liked, solid citizen, great actor. It would be for a combination of body of work, and critics groups loved his performance. If the Academy sees [“The Florida Project”] –which they probably won’t –he has a real shot. Some sentimentality does creep into this stuff.

Allison JanneyThe Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Feb 2018

Allison Janney

Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

Supporting Actress

The Academy is not always going to completely follow suit everywhere. If there’s any spot, people think it could be on the Supporting Actress side. It could be a shocker. Has Laurie Metcalf [“Lady Bird”] won anything? But Allison Janney has such a flashy role, with the bird and the knife, and “I, Tonya” is very good, even if it underperformed with nominations.

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of "Blade Runner 2049"

Director Denis Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins on the set of “Blade Runner 2049”

Stephen Vaughan

Cinematography

It has finally got to be Roger Deakins’ year. He got the ASC [for “Blade Runner 2049].

Costumes

I’m leaning in the direction of “Darkest Hour,” even though it doesn’t take the same imagination necessary for “Beauty and the Beast.” With “Darkest Hour” you are transported into that time and space seamlessly and costumes are part of that experience.

“The Shape of Water”

Production Design

I think the Academy and the world are in the mood for a fantastical love story, which is why “The Shape of Water” checks that box better than any other movie.

Editing

“The Shape of Water”

Score

“The Shape of Water.” We’re never going to allow something that isn’t well-made to sneak into whatever the trend is that year. The movie does fit into the trend and the politics. It’s well-made and original and inspiring. It breaks some new ground.

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