Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Peter Knegt
February 19, 2014 12:19 PM
7 Comments
  • |

For Your Consideration: 5 Pleas To Oscar Voters Filling Out Their Ballots Right Now

The 5,783 members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences got their ballots this past Friday, and they have the next six days to get them in. Which means that as done a deal this year's Oscar race seems in so many respects, it's actually still technically up in the air.  But it's up to the voters -- many of them filling out their ballots for the first time -- to decide how much original thought might come out of this year's winners. And frankly after a few years straight of very predictable and largely uninspired choices, I don't have too much hope that things will change this time around. But we thought we might as well offer a few pleas to voters anyway. Not with respect to who to vote for, of course (though fair warning -- there's a little bias spread throughout), but how to vote in a moral and honest fashion that might help bring some unexpected choices on Oscars (and hey, Spirit Award voters still filling our ballots, this goes for you too!). 

Don't let anyone else fill out your ballot!  First and foremost: There's long been jokes about how so-and-so's spouse or mother (Jennifer Lawrence!) or whomever else ended up filling out an Academy member's ballot instead of themselves. Respect that having an Oscar ballot is about as privileged as it gets. Tell your husband to get his own Academy membership!

Try not to let sentiment or politics or popularity affect your judgement. I'd like to think if I somehow had the opportunity to fill out an Oscar ballot I wouldn't do this, but I can only imagine it's difficult to see past various manipulations pushing your pencil in a somewhat dishonest direction. Like if someone's never won, or is really old, or wants to hire you for their next movie. But resist! I can't believe I'm writing these words given my personal fear of this happening, but if you really want to vote for Jennifer Lawrence because you think her work in "American Hustle" was the best supporting performance by an actress in 2013, then do it. Don't think "well, she won last year." And don't not vote for Michael Fassbender just because you didn't see him at any of the 10,000 lunches or cocktails over awards season. That's ridiculous. As is, in a different, albeit much more controversial vein: The mindset that voting for Cate Blanchett's performance in "Blue Jasmine" is voting in approval of child molestation. As far as I'm concerned, it's just voting for Cate Blanchett's performance in "Blue Jasmine."

Vote based on what you think, not what the Golden Globes or SAGs or BAFTAs tell you to do. Every year it seems like the same people are voting for every awards show because all their winners are usually 80% the same. Which actually makes the first two weeks of December the most sincerely excited part of awards season. That's when the first groups and/or organizations announce, and its really the only time we go into something expecting to be -- and often being -- surprised. This is stealing your thunder, Oscar voters! By the time your nominations roll around, it's pretty easy to predict the vast majority of them. And your winners are even more predictable. Which I suspect is in part because a lot of you are -- whether consciously or not -- just voting for whoever all the other groups have already awarded. I get the reasoning. Oh, well, if all these people picked Jared Leto, he must be the best, right? Not necessarily! Don't second guess your vote because it's not the norm. It might also help bring suspense back to the Oscars..

Don't vote in a category if you haven't seen all the movies. For the first time, the entire Academy can vote in every single category. Which poses a serious issue in that I'm sure in many cases there's some Academy members that have not watched every single film. Especially the shorts, docs and foreign films. In that case, either use these last 6 days to pull out those screens, or do not vote in that category. Don't vote for "20 Feet From Stardom" just because it's the only doc you saw this year and you happened to love it. Don't do it!

Seen all the movies but not sure what you think? Re-watch them! Especially if the one you're slightly leaning toward is the one you saw most recently. Can't decide between "Before Midnight" and "Philomena" in best adapted screenplay, for example? But also can't quite recall some parts of "Before Midnight" because you saw it over a year ago at Sundance? Re-watch them both. Some films benefit so much from a second viewing anyway, and maybe there's something you missed the first time around. Yes, that's three hours out of your life. But it's not exactly hard labor. It's watching movies, which is suggestively the core use of your profession. And I promise you'll probably feel really good when you hand in that ballot knowing that you used your remarkable Oscar voting privilege with the utmost honesty and morality.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and awards columnist. Check out his Oscar predictions in all the categories here.

You might also like:

7 Comments

  • Jesse | February 20, 2014 7:31 PMReply

    How on earth is the average academy member going to understand the subtle quality differences in a catagory as specialized as say Best Sound Effects Editing unless they work in that field? They're clearly going to vote for the movie they liked best or who they know (if they even see all the nominees), making the craft catagory winners almost meaningless.

  • DougW | February 20, 2014 12:44 AMReply

    Personally, I'd say if you've seen a film you love, even if you haven't seen all the other nominees, vote for it. If you love it, it deserves your vote. If you were in love with your girlfriend would you say, "I want to marry you, but first I've got to date four other women."?

  • Marky Mark | February 19, 2014 11:34 PMReply

    Here's the 6th plea:

    Would you please pay attention to internet film critics, pretty please? Our opinions DO matter!

  • mass | February 19, 2014 7:04 PMReply

    The Oscar IS and always will be political BS. It's just like how politicians make it as Politicians. They essentially bribe their way to victory.

  • Murphy | February 19, 2014 1:15 PMReply

    The whole campaigning thing is bullshit. Just because someone wasn't out promoting themselves or their film should have nothing to do the attention it receives

  • Joseph | February 19, 2014 12:41 PMReply

    Or, they could just copy my ballot and everybody would be happy.

    Best Picture: Gravity
    Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron
    Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey
    Best Actress: Cate Blanchett
    Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto
    Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o
    Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Philomena
    Best Cinematography: Gravity
    Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
    Best Production Design: Gravity
    Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
    Best Film Editing: Gravity
    Best Sound Editing: Gravity
    Best Visual Effects: Gravity
    Best Makeup/Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club
    Best Original Song: "Let It Go," Frozen
    Best Original Score: Gravity
    Best Animated Short: Room on the Broom
    Best Live Action Short: Just Before Losing Everything
    Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
    Best Animated Film: Frozen

    (Haven't seen any of the Documentary nominees.)

  • Mike | February 20, 2014 7:17 PM

    Joseph I'm saddened to see your choices almost exactly reflect the supposed odds (your screenplay picks feel off though).