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.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
I haven’t decided. “Get Out,” over time, it stood up. “Get Out” is so spectacular. But the end makes no sense. It’s such a brilliant joke that it makes you not care that it makes no sense. There’s nothing in the algebra of the movie that makes that ending possible — no clues, no hints. In the end, it’s a deus ex machina, but the joke is so good I don’t care. They had a different ending: too dark, everyone hated it. It’s so brilliant to take a movie like that–like Frank Capra chopped off the first reel of “Lost Horizon.” I’m talking myself into voting for it now.
I thought “Lady Bird” was a perfect movie, not the biggest genre, not something you haven’t seen before. But [the movie] is exquisite in terms of its characterization and scene construction. People say it’s a little TV coming-of-age movie. It’s like a haiku, like the scene where they have the fight and then go shopping, it’s so mother-daughter, you get these amazing relationships between people. I fell in love with all of it, really.
I can’t figure out the preferential thing, my biggest concern is I don’t know what I’m voting for. I’m voting for the five in whatever order, then cast it to the winds. I don’t game it. I get into a reductive mode, I will pick the five in the order I like them: the rest is out of my hands. You don’t remember what wins in any given year anyway.
One thing bothers me. I raised the issue, which went nowhere into the maw of the mother Academy. There should be the same number of directors nominated as there are movies. By creating a different number, you create a snub. They don’t have to be the same. Why are there only five with nine movies? It should be the equal number.
I don’t mind having more than five movies nominated, but I’m not sure it worked out the way they thought it would. The theory was that more studio movies would be nominated? Where’s “Wonder Woman?” Or “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which I thought was great but realize no one else did.
These guys are all so amazing, so different, not a bad choice among them. Very tough choice, if any one of them won I would feel fine, I’m in for the count. They’re so different. How do you compare “Lady Bird” and “Dunkirk?” They’re on such different planes of existence.
The whole notion of inclusiveness doesn’t [weigh with me]. Everybody votes for their friends anyway. I don’t believe in affirmative action per se for awards. That said my favorite movies are “Get Out” and “Lady Bird.”
If it’s not the best picture why is it best director? I would have trouble picking a movie for best director if I didn’t love the movie enough that it would be in my final selection for Best Picture. If you like two movies you try to find a way to give them both some action.
I’m pretty much settled on director. It could change. Not settled on picture. There’s two movies. I also like “Dunkirk.” If “The Shape of Water” won it wouldn’t bother me. I could change my mind and vote for it. I may watch them again.
I’m probably going with Gary Oldman, because God knows he’s earned it, it’s a totally amazing performance, you don’t know how he did that. To some degree it’s a combination of gravitational pull, the weight of the performance, and seeing other people brilliantly play him and have him come in and do it totally differently. It’s Sid Vicious, Churchill, that whole thing.
What do you with Daniel Day-Lewis? He’s from a another planet. That performance stays with you, stays with you, stays with you. I like the kid, the young man [Timothee Chalamet]: in all three movies he’s in, he’s extraordinary.
Streep was great. She’s always great. “The Post” was fine. I’m happy it’s doing business: its an important movie and they’re all doing a great job, although Tom Hanks is miscast: he’s Jimmy Stewart, he’s not Spencer Tracy. He had energy, but he was forced to do a wonderful job of impersonation, which made it tougher for her, she’s always wonderful. I’m not sure she carries the move enough to get that far, whereas Sally Hawkins did [in “The Shape of Water”]. The most valuable player on the movie takes the movie to a place you can’t imagine it going without her.
The other person I can’t imagine the movie without is Margot Robbie. “I, Tonya” is a movie nobody in the world ever wanted to see –as an idea, from a marketing standpoint: “Tonya Harding, I already know that story.” She carried it off in an amazing way. There’s a woman with a brilliant career, as a producer, what a talent!
I’m not the biggest fan of “Three Billboards,” but it’s fun. To me it’s less than the sum of its parts, which tells me it’s a directing issue. I liked the ending, that was a real moment. To me the movie started going downhill when Woody [Harrelson] left the movie, as much as [Sam] Rockwell’s great, and if he wins that’s fine. Frances McDormand is wonderful, but I feel she’s played that part before. I agreed with her SAG Awards speech: “Some of these kids need a doorstop too.”
Best Supporting Actor
Between Harrelson and Rockwell, I’d probably go with Woody, just because I felt it when he left the movie. I thought Michael Stuhlbarg was the weakest thing in [“Call Me By Your Name”], a stagey contrived character and an Oscar speech. I didn’t hate the movie, I liked it.
Christopher Plummer is the only thing worth watching [“All the Money in the World”] for, but I wasn’t knocked out. I didn’t see any reason to make the movie. As it was he was perfect for the part, 87 years old, unbelievable! Willem Dafoe was very good and I liked “The Florida Project” too, he was the early favorite. I’m edging toward Woody.
Best Supporting Actress
Here’s where campaigning works, because I totally fell in love with Allison Janney as a person. Allison and I had the best time together, we see the world the same way. There’s more depth to Metcalf’s character than Janney, who said she just hits the accelerator and goes the whole way. There’s more dimension to the character Laurie plays, more maneuvers and change of gears. Despite my admiration for Allison, who I never met before– I want her to be my best friend –I will vote for Metcalf.
I take that ballot seriously, even if I forget it when I turn it in. I don’t enter any Oscar pools anymore. It’s too confusing: do I vote for who I voted for, who I want to win, or who I think will win? So I don’t do it.
No question about that one, Roger Deakins. “Blade Runner 2049” was the biggest robbery job, it got dismissed because it didn’t do well. It was one of my two or three favorites.
Photo Courtesy of Focus Features
I thought “Marshall” had the best costumes. I’ll vote for “Phantom Thread.”
I don’t know how they did “I, Tonya.” [Margot Robbie] did a lot of the skating. I have a sweet spot for that movie; it’s such a surprise, in an interesting, smart fun way that captured those characters. It was a little “Star 80” with the husband, and the goofball friend–the whole story so improbable. The editing was so magnificent. I want that movie to win something.
“Dunkirk”: Hans Zimmer. It’s all one cue! And “Phantom Thread” had a great score.
I liked the Common/Diane Warren song in “Marshall” [“Stand Up for Something”].