The Hollywood Reporter has been running their usual “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots” again and I have to say it’s useful to have these because they confirm most of your worst suspicions of the Oscar voters. They vote on things they haven’t seen, they reward people they think “deserve” Oscars despite which performance they think is the best, and the “campaigns” matter more than the actual films in a lot of cases.
The last three ballots kind of cover the entire range of attitudes towards voting. There’s Voter #5 who gives us gems like “I didn’t get around to seeing any of them. You want the truth? I shouldn’t have voted, but I did.” about the Best Foreign Language Film category and “I thought the Theory score was beautiful, but I voted for my friend Alexandre Desplat [who is nominated in the category for both The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game] because I want him to win and, to be honest with you, I don’t give a shit which movie he wins for.” for Best Original Score.
We have a slightly more “responsible” take on the voting from Voter #6 who starts off with “I try to watch all of the nominees in every category primarily because I love film — you can learn something from even a not very good film — and secondarily because I think it’s the right thing to do if you’re a voter. I know how hard people work on these things, and it’s the least I can do. Plus, I’m a completist!” and who abstained from voting on Best Live Action Short because she’d only seen three out of the five. She’s a writer, though, and her takes on the script categories are very interesting, like why she picked Whiplash over the other nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay, “Whiplash jumped out at me — I just thought it captured that world perfectly. The others were very fine scripts, but the source material was right there. [Whiplash was the only one of the category’s nominees adapted from another film — a short version of the same story — as opposed to a book.]”
And finally, the old-timer, Voter #7 who is somewhere in the middle, where he’s seen everything but will still vote for his friends (“I went to school with [The Judge’s] Bobby Duvall at the Neighborhood Playhouse and I voted for him. He’s a major talent, you know? Even in a bad picture he held his own, he did what he could do and he delivered.”) but is worth reading for some amazing side info. Like this story: “A very quick story: I was once at a party with Jack Nicholson in Laurel Canyon with a lot of pretty girls. We were blasting loud music and two young cops cops came to the door to say they were getting complaints. They saw all the pretty girls in there and inside of five minutes each of them had a girl and each of the two girls were wearing the cops’ hats. I never forgot that. I think Inherent Vice captured that.” But his tastes show a bit more when it gets to Best Visual Effects where he abstained because “I didn’t vote here. I’m not so much into special effects pictures, you know? That’s the world that we’re in now, but I’m not in that world. I’m interested in character-driven stories.”
There’s very few consensuses to be found among these ballots, but if I had to make any predictions I’d say that it’s looking good for Patricia Arquette and Alexandre Desplat. Aside from that, everything looks pretty wide open.