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Anonymous Ballot: Editing Voter Refuses to See ‘Roma,’ Criticizes the Academy

The editor almost didn't vote in protest until the Academy reversed its decision to include all of the craft acceptance speeches live on Sunday.

“Vice”

Annapurna


IndieWireFallTV

With Oscar ballots filed, we continue our second annual series of interviews with voters from different Academy branches who share their thoughts on what got picked, snubbed, and overvalued in 2018.

What had gone down with the “non-televised awards” controversy left such a bad taste in my mouth that I wasn’t going to vote, except Hank Corwin (“Vice”) is a terrific and creative editor whom I wanted to support.

But with last week’s Academy reversal, it’s very gratifying to know that people who have devoted their entire adult lives to their crafts won’t be shunted aside. I did vote and the categories that I was most excited about are docs and foreign language film, which are full of deserving nominees.

The “non-televised awards” announcement has been handled about as well as the “Popular Film” category. It’s a shame, because I know and admire John Bailey and think his deep love and knowledge of film make him a good Academy president in many ways, but this issue is not his metier.

I understand that the Academy relies on the broadcast for a big part of its budget, but its members bestow honor and significance on the organization. It already seems that being a member does not mean what it once did, and now this move to relegate certain crafts to the sidelines was just another notch down.

The end result was not going to be higher ratings. Perhaps it would be a better idea to reduce the operating budget, reduce the number of activities, or look into other ways to manage if we are not getting as much money from the broadcast.

“The Favourite”

Fox Searchlight

Best Picture: “The Favourite.”

Directing: Pawel Pawlikowski  for “Cold War”

Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader for “First Reformed” (one of my favorites of the year)

Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins for “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best Actor: Christian Bale for “Vice.”

Foreign Language Feature:  “Capernaum.”

Documentary Feature: “Minding the Gap”

Editing: Hank Corwin for “Vice”

Frankly, some of the other nominees for editing, although they have done excellent work in the past, are not particularly worthy this year. Their nominations may be a result of the push to open Academy membership. Have there really been thirty-plus editors in each of the last two years worthy of admittance? There have been people admitted with one credit.

In my opinion, there were beautifully edited, but not necessarily mainstream films that were left off the list this year. I think the lousy field of candidates, for this year’s Best Picture Oscar, in particular, could be a result of that push to include people who really have not yet developed the taste level or artistic maturity that comes with experience.

“Cold War”

Amazon Studios

Seriously, think of the embarrassment in years to come if “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “BlacKkKlansman” were to win Best Picture. I’m a Spike Lee fan, and I enjoyed his movie, but it does not represent excellence in filmmaking — although it may come closer than “Rhapsody” does.

Frankly, I’m always a bit disappointed in the editing nominees. Part of what causes the problem is the bunching up of releases at the end of the year. The push to view and nominate in such a short amount of time and with so much “for your consideration” pressure from the majors leaves more worthy work on the sidelines. I try to make mental notes during the year about particularly excellent work that I see, and I do list it when nomination time comes, but I realize that votes get lost in the shuffle of all the big releases.

The problem has gotten even worse since the Academy governors shortened the time period for viewing and nominating by a month (about three years ago). With so little time, I think people just go with the obvious. The board’s motives were good, i.e., to shorten the campaign season, but it has had that one serious and unfortunate side effect.

I haven’t seen “Roma” because Alfonso Cuarón took an editing credit without ever having touched the Avid and that offended me so deeply that I won’t go near the film. It was non-union so he, not being a member of MPEG, was able to get away with it.

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