This year’s Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28 brings together an array of perennially shunned actors angling for justice (Leonardo DiCaprio), old-timers hoping to not be Lauren Bacall’d (Sly Stallone), and yet another James Bond theme song. There are veterans, new faces, nobility-under-duress sagas, and lots of white folks. How to navigate through the favorites and the also-rans? Easy. Here to break it all down for us is a real-life, anonymous Oscar voter who should get a trophy for having the courage of his or her convictions.
Hello, Oscar voter. This is a very wacky year. The Big Short won the PGA, Spotlight won the SAG and Critics Choice, The Martian won the Golden Globe (for Comedy), and The Revenant won the Golden Globe (for Drama) and the DGA and BAFTA. Who are you voting for?
This is a hard one, but I’m leaning between Spotlight and The Revenant. I like both of those movies for different reasons. Spotlight was a wonderful film about journalism—not just about the subject matter, but it touched on so many issues. I thought it was really intelligent and the actors were terrific, but then again, I liked The Revenant—a great film about revenge. I thought the production values were amazing.
What factor would end up leaning you one way or the other?
I’ll watch them again. If I could watch a film again and feel the same way or more so, that will determine it.
But what about The Big Short?
I loved it. I thought it was really fun and handled really well, but for the same subject matter, 99 Homes did it for me.
And I’m gathering you wouldn’t dream of voting for Mad Max: Fury Road?
I liked it, but I don’t see it as Best Picture. It was a good action film with lots of chases, but I didn’t nominate it. It was one big chase. After a while, I got really bored. I nominated Tangerine for Best Picture. I love that movie. When I nominate, I nominate films I really like. And I know friends who nominated The Diary of a Teenage Girl and the actress [Bel Powley].
Alas, they didn’t get in. As for what’ll win Best Picture, what do you hear when you talk to other voters?
I think Spotlight is the one. It really resonates with you and it has affected so many people.
Does Leonardo DiCaprio have Best Actor all locked up for The Revenant?
I think so. I‘m voting for him. I thought he was amazing. Sometimes I’m watching him and I don’t see him as a grownup. He reminds me of still being a boy. But he really took over this role. I felt like I wasn’t watching Leonardo DiCaprio. He really got into the character. But then there were a lot of performances that were overlooked. I loved Michael Shannon. He’s an amazing actor. He should have been nominated [for 99 Homes].
Who’s your pick for Actress—Brie Larson for Room, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn…?
Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years! I loved the movie and I loved her.
Unfortunately, she probably has zero chance of winning. The nomination is the award for her.
If they watch the movie on a DVD, they probably couldn’t get through it, but it’s such a good film about a relationship, and Charlotte is my gal.
But let’s get real. Will Brie get it?
Probably, but I want to see Charlotte get it. The whole thing about ageism—the whole thing with the Academy is so disgusting. Why didn’t Michael Caine get a nomination?
And what about the racism?
Actually, I think the accusations are ridiculous. The performances didn’t warrant it. Why didn’t the Academy say, “It’s not the Academy membership, it’s the actors?” The acting branch is colorblind. I think it was a kneejerk reaction and the damage is done and they really responded—they were so reactive—and they didn’t think out the criticism. The whole thing is absurd.
But Idris Elba should have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation.
Idris is really good, but a lot of people didn’t see the movie and thought it was a TV thing. And a lot of people didn’t watch it because of the subject matter, because it’s so tough. When you talk to some of the members about what they’ve watched and haven’t watched, it’s very interesting. They don’t see everything.
But Idris got so many other nominations and awards. How could Oscar have snubbed him?
It’s because of the way the Oscar voting is decided. It’s sort of the way the U.S. decides with your electorates. They should do it the old-fashioned way, where the number of votes counts. Who knows? He could have lost out by one vote. I’m sure it was very close. I know that Samuel L. Jackson—who did a very good job in The Hateful Eight—had said, “I don’t have a shot, because it’s a Tarantino movie.”
But Christoph Waltz won twice for a Tarantino movie.
But Jackson was being realistic.
Well, with Idris out of the running, do you favor Sly Stallone for Best Supporting Actor, for playing Rocky one more time in Creed?
I can’t stand Stallone. I think he’s a pig. I don’t want to malign pigs, but I don’t like him and I didn’t think his performance was all that great. Mark Rylance [Bridge of Spies] is amazing and so is Tom Hardy [The Revenant]. I think it’s Rylance for me. But I can’t stand Sly as a person. I thought he was OK. I can’t jump on that Rocky bandwagon.
Probably Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. I thought she was really good. I felt she got into the character and she wasn’t acting at it and I really believed it. And her versatility. Not just because of her performance—because she’s really good—but I also loved her in Ex Machina.
But you can’t factor in Ex Machina! She’s nominated for The Danish Girl!
No, of course not.
But I guess it’s human nature to factor in all sorts of things?
How many times has Maggie Smith won, and it’s not because of the performance, but because of her career?
The person I would have voted for wasn’t nominated, Ridley Scott. We were all thinking it was a shoo-in for Ridley.
Yeah, that was a shock. Like Ben Affleck.
I’ll probably vote for Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant.
Best Foreign Film?
I thought Son of Saul was amazing as a film. There’s one I haven’t seen. But I’m leaning towards Mustang.
A movie about Muslims. Donald Trump’s worst nightmare! By the way, for some of us predictors, Best Picture has been Spotlight, then Revenant, then Big Short, then back to Spotlight, then Revenant again.
I just heard the Vatican is going to be opening up investigations. They watched Spotlight.
They hadn’t heard of the whole pedophilia thing before the movie? What does it take?
Let’s talk about the important category, ha. Best Song.
Except for the Bond song, I don’t really remember the others, though I like the Diane Warren-Lady Gaga song, which I remember from the end credits. And I liked that documentary [The Hunting Ground.]
The Bond song was such a flop. Nothing like the Adele one that won in 2013.
It’s all about Shirley Bassey!
I know. I never could understand how “Goldfinger” wasn’t even nominated.
I don’t either.
Are you looking forward to Chris Rock as host?
I like him. I’m hoping it’s good. After all these awards shows, it becomes anticlimactic. Enough! But I’m not boycotting. I will watch it.