Oscars: Thoughts from Voters Before Ballots are Handed Out

jacobtremblay_roomThe day is nearly here.  Publicists and awards strategists are in overdrive at the moment, as they know that Wednesday, Oscar ballots are in the hands of voters.  Factoring in the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choices, box office, and about another dozen or so indicators of love and support, the Academy will make their choices, on their ballots either electronically or via paper send in.

Over the break, we’ve been putting out not-so-subtle reminders for what AMPAS voters should give a try in their screener pile.  Perhaps, none of this matters.  An Academy voter is going to do what they want to do and there isn’t anything you nor I can do to change their mind…or is there?  In over two dozen functions attended every year, it never fails that someone from a particular guild or branch will ask myself or any of my colleagues about what they SHOULD be checking out.  Believe it or not, an AMPAS member’s ear isn’t to the ground about what’s going to be a player or not, at least not the majority of them.  I’ll always remember one person in particular thanking me for introducing them to “Nebraska” in 2013 because they said they didn’t hear “anything about it.”

cateblanchett_carolThis year, the passion is laid all over the place.  Polling some voters over the past few days, I’ve heard about fifteen different films that will undoubtedly be placed at the top of their ballots for Best Picture.  I’ve heard the usual suspects like Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” and Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room.”  Then there are the bold and “very passionate” who love films like F. Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton,” Pete Docter’s “Inside Out,” Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” and even the not so-well received films like David O. Russell’s “Joy.”  Hell, there was someone who said there’s no way that Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” is not going to the top of their ballot.

When it comes to the guilds, some say they don’t pay much attention.  One member stating, “if I catch wind of what was nominated from a certain group, it may give me more of a boost to watch a film, but ultimately, I already have my mind made up about what I want and don’t want to watch.”

As an interesting point, I love to see what the voters are not enjoying from the piles.  A male voting member admitted not being able to stomach Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant” before having to turn it off when liquid poured out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s throat.  A female voting member talks about not seeing the “big deal” about “Mad Max: Fury Road” while another says she was “utterly offended” by Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”

When broaching the subject on category fraud, the members of the acting branch didn’t too much to contribute that hasn’t already been said.  One voting member stated that Rooney Mara’s turn in Todd Haynes’ “Carol” is a leading performance and it’s “silly” to suggest otherwise.  An older voter, who has been voting for over twenty years says they never saw the big deal about distinguishing the two.  “I think we should be giving just one award for one male and one female” the voter says.  Hopefully the Academy as a whole doesn’t share these thoughts.

In celebrating the releasing of ballots, the Academy Award predictions have been updated as you can see from the sidebar and in each section, where you can read the commentary.

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