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by Peter Knegt
January 7, 2014 2:31 PM
15 Comments
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For Your Consideration: If I Had An Oscar Ballot

Tomorrow marks the last day for the 6,000 or so members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to hand in their nomination ballots. For this Oscar prognosticator, it brings forth the annual daydream of having his own ballot. After a year-end blitz of screenings and screeners that suggests a consensus of what deserves to get nominated, it's always disappointing to see that this rarely ends up being the actual case (see these current predictions compared to the rest of this article). This speaks to both how subjective any opinion can be, whether my own or that of the collective voice of the Academy, and how political the awards game really is in the end.

Sadly, the films with the most merit might not end up getting checked off because they simply didn't have enough money to campaign. Of course, there's nothing new about this for anyone who follows Oscarology. But I, for one, usually still manage to enter an awards season under the wistful pretense that this year the best (wo)men might really win. And then by January cynical dismay pops up when it becomes clear that while sometimes they do, more often they don't.

So it seems like a fun idea to counter this by offering up 2014's first "For Your Consideration" column as one that's very true to its name: what my own ballot would look like if I magically were to have one (and I was magically able to vote in every category, which no Academy member actually does).

This is not to suggest that my opinion is more worthy than any other. Quite the contrary, as what's listed here is drastically more subjective than whatever the Academy comes up with, considering it's approximately just 1/6000th as many voices. Take it is as my own personal "for your consideration" ad, advocating for films that have perhaps fallen by the wayside in the midst of this onslaught of awards precursors (though also, optimistically, noting quite a few films that will very likely make Oscar's cut -- namely "Zero Dark Thirty," my favorite film of 2012).

Do note that the following ballot does keep in line with those Academy rules. My best documentary, best makeup, best visual effects and best foreign film ballots only list films that made the Academy's shortlists, while my original song and score picks come only from those considered eligible by Academy committees.

With that in mind, below is my imaginary Academy Award ballot, for what it's worth. Please feel free to post your own in the comments section of this page.

Joaquin Phoenix in Spike Jonze's 'Her'

Best Picture:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Her
3. Before Midnight
4. Frances Ha
5. Gravity

Best Director:
1. Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Spike Jonze, Her
3. Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
4. Richard Linklater, Before Midnight
5. Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell

Best Actor:
1. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Joaquin Phoenix, Her
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
4. Mads Mikkelson, The Hunt
5. Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty

Best Actress:
1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2. Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
3. Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
4. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
5. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

'Spring Breakers"

Best Supporting Actor:
1. James Franco, Spring Breakers
2. Matthew McConaughey, Mud
3. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings
5. John Goodman, Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
3. Léa Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color
4. Scarlett Johannson, Don Jon
5. Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Original Screenplay:
1. Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Spike Jonze, Her
3. Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
4. Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said
5. Asghar Farhadi, The Past

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
2. Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, Blue is the Warmest Color
3. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
4. Francois Ozon, In The House
5. Destin Cretton, Short Term 12

Best Foreign Language Film:
1. The Great Beauty
2. The Hunt
3. The Missing Picture
4. The Broken Circle Breakdown
5. Omar

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in "Before Midnight"

Best Documentary Feature:
1. Stories We Tell
2. The Act of Killing
3. The Square
4. Cutie and the Boxer
5. God Loves Uganda

Best Animated Feature*:
1. The Wind Rises
2. Frozen
3. Abstain
4. Abstain
5. Abstain

Best Film Editing:
1. Gravity
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. Her
4. Captain Phillips
5. Stories We Tell

Best Cinematography:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Her
3. Ain't Them Bodies Saints
4. Gravity
5. 12 Years a Slave

Best Production Design:
1. Her
2. Gravity
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. The Conjuring

Sarah Polley on the set of "Stories We Tell."

Best Costume Design:
1. The Great Gatsby
2. American Hustle
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Laurence Anyways
5. Blue Jasmine

Best Original Score:
1. Her
2. Gravity
3. Ain't Them Bodies Saints
4. All Is Lost
5. 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Song:
1. "The Moon Song" (Her)
2. "So You Know What It's Like" (Short Term 12)
3. "Young and Beautiful" (The Great Gatsby)
4. "Oblivion" (Oblivion)
5. "Let It Go" (Frozen)

Best Sound Editing**:
1. Gravity
2. All Is Lost
3. Captain Phillips
4. The Conjuring
5. Pacific Rim

Best Sound Mixing**:
1. Gravity
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. All Is Lost
4. Captain Phillips
5. World War Z

Best Visual Effects**:
1. Gravity
2. Pacific Rim
3. Oblivion
4. Iron Man 3
5. World War Z

Best Makeup & Hairstyling**:
1. Bad Grandpa
2. American Hustle
3. The Lone Ranger

*- Please note I've only seen two good animated feature films released in 2013.
**-Please note my "expertise" in these categories is much more limited than in the others.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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15 Comments

  • Pat | January 10, 2014 11:41 AMReply

    I wish I had the opportunity to view as many films as a columnist, critic or academy member.. I am certain my list would be different. However, many of the limited release films don't make it to my local theaters. I do my best to try and see the "consensus" top 10 or 15 movies that I read about during awards season every year, often having to stream online if possible. So I certainly cannot commit to my list at the moment. But feel VERY strongly about these films:
    1. Her - I've never seen anything like it before. The acting was phenomenal. Charming and brilliant.
    2. Captain Phillips - Actualy exceeded my expectations (which were high) and Tom Hanks' acting was superb. Great movie.
    3. 12 Years a Slave - I've never had my jaw drop or been so uncomfortable watching a movie. This was a good thing, I think. I was actually moved by it.
    4. Gravity - I didn't want it to end. I'll never look up the same way again.
    5. All Is Lost - Any movie that keeps me enthralled for 90 minutes without any dialogue is very special.

    American Hustle was very good, but I feel like it is overrated. And I must admit I've yet to see Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, Dallas Buyers Club or Wolf of Wall St. I anticipate my list may change once I do, but they'll have to be great in order for that to happen.

  • Deadpan | January 9, 2014 2:41 PMReply

    Your opinion is just as valid as mine, so:

    "Frances Ha" and "Before Midnight" and "Spring Breakers?" What, no retro-nostalgic John Hughes tribute was available? Grow up, white kid. The 90's are over. Your "Movies I Watched This Year" list is impressive only to your parents. Maybe.

    Let the grown-ups talk about grown-up movies.

  • Deadpan | January 9, 2014 2:51 PM

    "Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and awards columnist."

    Your chums at the Pipe-&-Ascot bow down to your wit, I'm certain.

  • Me34 | January 9, 2014 1:15 PMReply

    Being honest, I could be more satisfied with what the Oscar would come up with. Carey Mulligan and Scarlett Johannson for those roles? James Franco for "Spring Breakers"? (let alone being your first choice). Greta Gerwig for "Frances Ha" (white people is obsessed with this crappy movie) and the rest below Blanchett? Also, please someone tells me what's so special about Joaquin Phoenix and "Her", that every critic seems to be really into.

  • David Krow | January 8, 2014 1:50 PMReply

    Dallas Buyers, lead actor 12 Years best picture

  • Parik | January 8, 2014 9:29 AMReply

    Actually, like a lot of your picks - cinematography for Her (great pick), and of course the score and original song, hope the academy recognizes them.
    Your best picture top 5 are almost along mine (i've yet to see Before Midnight, but have seen the first two which are classics). top 5: Her, Gravity, Frances Ha, Nebraska, American Hustle
    Frances Ha - I got to see at the NYFF in 2012, what a great film, glad Criterion chose it for its collection. I'm glad the Golden Globes at least recognized Greta Gerwig. It deserves an original screenplay nom, but that's wishful thinking.

    Totally agree with animation - The Wind Rises should win, but it's likely going to Frozen which was ok.

    Plus - both actresses from Blue is the Warmest should be getting nominations in a just world. Simply amazing and Spielberg recognized that.

    Anyway, wish you were a part of the Academy as this is a great ballot with a lot of quality choices. Let's only hope we get something close to this.

  • Jasper | January 8, 2014 1:13 AMReply

    This guy obviously doesn't like American Hustle (one of the best movies of the last 10 years, in my opinion)

  • July | January 7, 2014 9:45 PMReply

    no Dallas Buyers Club at all? Matthew McConaughey (best actor) and Jared Leto (supporting actor) both were just amasing. Still hope James Franco will get the Oscar for (supporting actor) Spring Breakers!

  • Michele | January 7, 2014 3:17 PMReply

    By leaving out Fassbender you're missing out on one of the best performances of the year, and arguably the best performance in that particular film.

  • sasha | January 8, 2014 4:51 PM

    the most showboat-y perhaps but not one white actor in that film even touches the level of depth of the performances of the actors of color.

  • Katie | January 7, 2014 3:16 PMReply

    No Jared Leto? He was amazing in Dallas Buyers Club.

  • Rusty | January 7, 2014 2:58 PMReply

    I didn't know that documentary directors can be nominated for best director category.

  • Quinn Vincent Hough | January 7, 2014 2:43 PMReply

    Solid ballot, Peter. I like your selections for Best Picture, especially Frances Ha and Before Midnight. It would be nice to see Greta Gerwig get a little love.

  • david | January 7, 2014 2:43 PMReply

    What? No Brie Larson

  • Lisa W | January 7, 2014 2:38 PMReply

    What? No Michael Fassbender? Why, why, why?