Oscar Contenders

One Director's Blow-by-Blow Thoughts as He Fills Out His 2013 Oscar Ballot

I can guarantee some of this will surprise you.

oscar-ballotOver at The Hollywood Reporter, Scott Feinberg was invited to the office of one of the 371 members of the Academy's directors branch to sit in his presence while he filled out his ballot for the 2013 Oscars.

I have included the final results at the bottom of this post, but more revealing are some of the reasons he chose not to vote for some nominees and why he chose to vote for others. The results are fascinating, enlightening and, at times, embarrassing. There's no way of knowing if this is how everyone fills out their ballots, but I'm pretty sure a combination of this one voter's decision making "techniques" are utilized by most.

Highlights include his referring to The Hobbit's use of 48 frames per second a "noble, but failed" experiment.

For Best Production Design he dismisses The Hobbit, Life of Pi and Les Miserables then says, "So that leaves Anna Karenina, which is a movie I loathed, and Lincoln. I'm not gonna vote for Lincoln for best picture, but I have a lot of personal respect for Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy and I want to help the film, so when I can throw it a vote, like here, I will."

Referring to "Suddenly" from Les Miserables he calls it "a very boring song and an absolutely blatant attempt to win a best song Oscar." He then adds, "That upsets me."

His comments on the Best Director category are interesting, but I wonder what you'll make of his reasoning for not voting for Michael Haneke (Amour): "Michael Haneke has pissed me off in the past because he's made movies that are so misanthropic. He just hates human beings, and I happen to be a human being and don't like being shit on."

In the end he decides to vote for Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), but adds "[W]hich I don't feel is the best-directed film of the year -- there's nothing innovative about it -- but I'm swept away with the gravity of the subject matter." For the record, he says he would have voted for Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), who was not nominated.

For Best Supporting Actress he says Anne Hathaway is "going to win because she makes you cry and because I find her charming." In the Best Actress category he says, "I also don't vote for anyone whose name I can't pronounce. Quvez---? Quzen---? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name -- Alphabet Wallis."

When he reaches Best Supporting Actor he says, "Tommy Lee Jones has been such a bitter guy -- all that scowling at the Golden Globes? I’m telling you, people don’t like the guy."

One reason he doesn't vote for Denzel Washington (Flight) for Best Actor is becaue "he's already won two Academy Awards", he's partial to Life of Pi for Best Adapted Screenplay "because we all thought that it was an unfilmable book" and he continues the Haneke hate for Original Screenplay by saying, "Amour is immediately disqualified--it's just a woman dying, and there's no real story, and it made me feel like shit."

And, finally, his thoughts on Best Picture:

This is a preferential system. I'm putting Amour at No. 9 because I'm just pissed off at that film. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that I just didn't understand, so that's my No. 8. Les Miserables goes in seventh place — it's not just the most disappointing film of the year but the most disappointing film in many years. Above that I'm putting Silver Linings Playbook, which is just a "blah" film. Django Unchained will go into my fifth slot — it's a fun movie, but it's basically just Quentin Tarantino masturbating for almost three hours. Next up is Life of Pi because of how unique it is and for holding my attention up until its irritating ending. Argo is gonna go in third place, but I don't want it to win because I don't think it deserves to win and am annoyed that it is on track to win for the wrong reasons. Actually, come to think of it, do we have to put a film in every slot? Because what I want is for my best picture choice to have the best possible shot, so why even give any support to the others? [He has his assistant call the Oscar voting helpline, finds out that voters can leave slots blank and promptly removes all of the aforementioned selections.] I'm basically OK with one of two films winning. Lincoln is going in my second slot; it's a bore, but it's Spielberg, it's well-meaning, and it's important. Zero Dark Thirty is my No 1.

There's much, much more over at the full story which you can read here, but like I said, here are all of his votes.

But please don't leave without adding your voice in the comments below. What do you think of what you've just read? What do you think of the conclusions he came to and why?





BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "Skyfall" (Skyfall)






BEST SHORT: [Abstained]



BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Snow White and the Huntsman



BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

BEST ACTRESS: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)

BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)




BEST PICTURE: Zero Dark Thirty

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  • Winchester

    Quite often when I watch a Tarantino film I feel like I'm watching him masturbate so I'm relieved I'm not the only one who has that reaction to his work.

    Apart from that it actually seems broadly a combination of human nature/reasoning and a slice of amusement here and there.

    • Peter R

      Highlights include his referring to The Hobbit's use of 48 frames per second a "noble, but failed" experiment.???


      it's superb!! and it is a great succes. IMAX 3D hit the dirt by HFR 3D

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/SirTrey/ Sir Trey

        Ehhh...at times things looked like they were on fast forward and the makeup team is gonna have to work a lot harder in the future if HFR is going to be a consistent thing. I liked it more than I didn't like it but I wouldn't go as far as a "great success". Was more impressed by, say, The Dark Knight Rises or Skyfall's IMAX work.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ben/ Ben

    I found this to be EXTREMLY interesting. I would to see other peoples ballots. Who ever this was appears to be quite honest .I thought that some of his opinions were rather valid, while others were petty, yet funny(the tommy lee jones comment)

  • Ron Oneal Fresh

    This reiterates what you what you already know, or should. Oscar voters are just like anyone watching a film. They have their favorites, biases: rational & irrational. Like not voting for someone b/c of their name, not voting for someone b/c their previous work you didn't like, not voting b/c someone already won.

    Obviously everyone doesn't reflect & cast their ballots in the way this director does, but the perception that most Academy members are robotic & impartial w/ their votes seems a bit naive.

    • Winchester

      That's exactly what I took from it.

      Of course in some cases the reasoning seemed a little more informed from a professional standpoint and some where personal standpoints came to bear but I suspect this mirrors how many Academy members come at their ballots.

      They are people after all.

      I don't agree with the choices this person made in every category or everything they said but the illustration it implies really doesn't feel very revelatory to me.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      This guy gets it. It's like pretty much anything in life where the "best" doesn't always succeed.

      Who gets promoted at work - the person who consistently does great work but no one wants to talk to, or the person who everyone loves to hang out with but does average work?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    A surprising list indeed, but the highlight of it for me was when he voted for Best Short (Live Action).

    “Curfew is the least depressing of five films guaranteed to prevent you from getting laid, as I personally learned.”

    I do agree with him on some things. Life of Pi was very good until the ending and although I'm a fan of Tarantino's movies, I can't argue with him on Django Unchained, despite how much I liked it. I did watch Anna Karenina last night though, and I thought that was also a bad movie.

  • Disco Paco

    What a pompous jerk.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin


    • Ryan

      Agreed. His hatred for many of these movies is ridiculous. His thought process just reeks of self-obsessiveness. "I'm going to vote for Lincoln, not because I like the movie but because I like Spielberg...I'm not going to vote for Tommy Lee Jones because I don't like him, not because I think he did a bad job...I'm going to vote for Life of Pi because Lee made an un-filmable book into a good movie, not that it was the best movie." VOTE FOR WHAT YOU THINK IS THE BEST, NOT BASED OFF OF IF YOU LIKE THE GUY'S PERSONALITY OR BASED ON HISTORY!

    • Jake17

      Yeah, he's kind of made an ass of himself, not to mention the Academy.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      This guy reminds me of something Brett Easton Ellis would tweet out; but at least with Ellis, there's a sense of irony. This guy is totally serious.

    • goodfella676

      i agree, self centered and pretentious, cant people just love film instead of picking holes and judging others work so negatively

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    This is very interesting. Thanks for posting this Brad. If he and the other Academy members share the same mindset, Amour may not end up winning that Best Original Screenplay.

  • Gautam

    One thing which is very clear from this [and others that I have read online], hardly any Academy member fill the ballot objectively. Personal biases and prejudices have a big role to play. And therefore, it's no surprise that the actual best in every category don't always win.

  • https://twitter.com/TooMuchHamza Hamza Zain

    Alphabet Wallis did give me a chuckle. But if that's his reasoning for how he votes, then I'd say 95% of the commenters on this site do a more, proper breakdown of the categories.

    He also comes across like if Armond White was a director. "I'm not going to vote for this because it's the best, rather I don't think this other one should win, so I will be for this so the other one has less of a chance." Except, I'd imagine White would probably thesaurus everything I just said.

  • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

    There's definitely a lot to take away from here, most important being that Oscar voters aren't necessarily choosing their favorite film in each category, but rather a film that they would rather see win than the front runner in that category. Prejudices and biases also have a large effect. And this further solidifies the Oscar's as a load of bullshit to me, but what can you do.

    Some important specific choices to take away from this are a potential Argo backlash (same could apply for Lincoln) and disdain for Haneke that could prevent his film from winning much. BTW, I do have to say that this person's reasons for not liking both Haneke and Amour are totally ridiculous and utterly absurd. His argument essentially comes down to, "I don't like Haneke's other films, and thus I do not like Amour."

    I must admit though, that with the exception of the Haneke hate, this guy actually makes some pretty good choices.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      I actually don't think this guy's picks and reasoning say anything of substance about the Academy. This all says more about him than anything else.

      • adu

        Totally agree, it almost seems like some comments are on there just to spur controversy, did the person know this would be published?

        In any case, I do love some of his choices, especially best actor and supporting actor :)

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

          Apparently, he was the one who initiated the whole thing.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

            yeah, my bet is that he enjoyed embellishing the whole interview for his own amusement and perhaps a bit of a power trip. i.e. "Be impressed with me because I am a member of the Academy"!!!

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

              I really want to know who it was. Now THAT would be interesting. Someone needs to do #AGoodResearch and get to the bottom of this.

              • https://twitter.com/TooMuchHamza Hamza Zain

                Consensus seems to be that it's William Friedkin. If you read the whole article, he seems like a long time member, doesn't seem to give a crap what people think, and his movies are similar to the ones he voted for. At least, that's what I think.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                Nah, Billy's the man. He's no douche.I don't buy it.

              • https://twitter.com/TooMuchHamza Hamza Zain

                I like Friedkin, so I hope it isn't him. I could just see him being the one because of his tenure in the Academy.

  • http://letterboxd.com/ragingtaxidrver/ RagingTaxiDriver

    Surprised that he even gave any recognition to Amour. I guess he was just that impressed by Riva.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

      funny too, that he found Amour depressing, he hates Haneke but wants to vote for Riva because he was disappointed with Jennifer Lawrences snl monologue!!

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

        Well; if we learned anything, if you want to impress this guy, don't do SNL before the Oscar telecast.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

          Funny though, Christoph Walz was on SNL last week and didn't get any flack...
          Anything to do with the skis themselves? It wouldnt be based on the fact that Lawrence is young and beautiful and the old geezers started thinking of their spoiled granddaughters?!!

  • Anna

    Well , to be honest , I kinda like this guy...

    Things I agree:
    - Suddenly is one of the most boring songs I've ever heard.
    - Les Miserables is a mess of a movie
    - Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino masturbating for three hours (that's not a bad thing though)
    - Argo is winning for the wrong reasons (yes , they realise that!!!)
    - I'm not fan of the 48 fps either
    - Zero Dark Thirty is the best film of the year

    Things I don't agree :
    - Picking on someone's name (really??)
    - Voting for Anne Hathaway because she's charming (that's hardly a surprise)
    - The hate for Michael Haneke's movies (Amour is anything but misanthropic)
    - Saying he doesn't understand a movie therefoe he doesn't like it

    PS : anyone else surprised that he chose Emmanuelle Riva for best actress?? Apparently he hated the movie...

    • Winchester

      But judged the performance independent of the film as a whole. So, in effect remains not entirely bound by his opinion of Haneke in a way that would affect his opinion on Riva herself.

      • Anna

        Yeah... and that's really good, isnt't it?

        btw I read some comments and people think this guy is William Friedkin. (I can go with that ).

  • http://hauntedbyhumans.wordpress.com Jesse

    Interesting but..."it's a bore, but it's Spielberg, it's well-meaning, and it's important." That's crap. Vote on the best film. If he thought Lincoln was a borefest, it should have been down at like 6.

  • http://thebioscopist.com TheBioscopist

    I love it! It's honest and it's nice to see that what we've all speculated goes on, actually does.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

      I like it too, even though I think some of his logic is just wacky. I like that doesnt give a shit and wants to vote the way he wants to vote! And yes, we have all, as it would seem, speculated fairly accurately on the voting process.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    Things I Agree on
    -Zero Dark Thirty for Best Picture
    -Quvenzhaine Wallis' name is hard to pronounce (I wouldn't discount et for that, but his comment was funny)
    -Tarantino's masturbation (not necessarily bad)
    -Jessica Chastain for Actress
    -Les Miserables was a huge disappointment.

    What I disagree on
    -Not picking Lawrence because of her SNL thing
    -Discounting Jones for his personality
    I just wish the Academy members would vote on what they think is the best instead of letting outside things (like personalities or awards speeches) influence their decision. That would make the Oscars much more respectable in my view.
    This backs up why I don't like the awards handed out-but I like predicting them, so I'll be watching this Sunday. And the next. And the next. Etc.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    Well, whoever this guy is, he's a total asshole. His ignorant comments on Michael Haneke highlight what a moron he is. This is just another reason NOT to care about the Oscars. I'm sure this guy is probably reflective of many voters so it's revealing that even in the technical categories, he doesn't vote for who he thinks did the best job. His decisions seemed to be based solely on a bizarre logic that I'm sure only he understands.

    And I thought that Directors could only vote for Directors, Actors for Actors, writers for writers etc...

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      And another thing: The fact that he went out of his way to contact The Hollywood Reporter and "invite" them to listen to his warped opinions emphasizes what a self-centered egomaniac this guy must be.... is Michael Bay a member of the Academy?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mikey/ Mikey

      I'm pretty sure that's only for the nomination process and then the voting for the winners is a free for all.

      From oscars.org: "Members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominated film editors, etc. However within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees... The Academy’s entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, and Foreign Language Film – members can vote only after attesting they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories."

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        If that is the case, it's just silly. Why place restrictions on the nominations but then allow everyone to vote for everything when it comes time to determine the winner? With every passing day, I have less and less desire to watch the damn thing.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Rashomon66/ Rashomon66

    I'm guessing this is an action film director who only wishes he could direct a film with as much verve as Tarantino. I'm also guessing this director is someone who would prefer a root canal to a foreign language film or a film that is outside of his narrative comfort zone - hence his stupid comment about Beasts of the Southern Wild.

  • http://www.twitter.com/marlonwallace marlonwallace

    I have mixed feelings about this guy. I agree with a lot of the comments here. On one hand, I find a lot of this guy's quotes funny and I suppose I appreciate his honesty, but my goodness, I am also appalled by his reasoning for many things. He even admits several times to not seeing the movies in a category but voting any way. For the Animated Feature, he basically boiled it down to two and flipped a coin.

  • http://www.everyeliakazanmovie.blogspot.ca/ IngmarTheBergman

    Yes, this man is right. When an actor plays an "annoying" or "grumpy" character, they don't deserve to win because they are doing what the character was supposed to do. Congratulations, Academy. I didn't think it was possible to lose any more faith in you... but I just did.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ben/ Ben

    If I had to guess who this was it would be William Friedkin.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    wow that was an extremely entertaining article to read. Humorous at some times. Although I might not agree with a lot of reasons he gives, the words he uses to describe why he wouldn't vote for a particular nominee is funny.

  • Les geossman

    This guy seems to be frustrated and full of hate.are all the oscar voters will be like him?

  • Newbourne

    I read an article about another voter complaining that this is the hardest Director's field he's ever had to vote for because there's no clear front-runner.

    He was basically saying that instead of voting for the best, he votes for all the frontrunners. Why trust your own opinion when you can follow the sheep? I found his logic very misguided.


  • William

    Ravi for Best Actress is continuing to worry me; please NO!!!

  • anna

    Quick question : if you're nominated for an oscar can you vote in your category??

    • Newbourne


  • Thornsy

    I thought his thoughts on cinematography were really good. Everyone's so focused on the negative things he said...

  • Chris138

    A couple of things...

    1. I never saw Jennifer Lawrence host Saturday Night Live but I heard people discussing her opening monologue. It seemed to have a negative impact on this guy and for that reason he won't vote for her. What exactly did she do and/or say that got some people all up in arms about it?

    2. He mentions that Christoph Waltz is a 'fake nomination', because he's really a co-lead with Jamie Foxx. However, he goes on to say he's voting for Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master, and that is arguably even more of a lead than Waltz in Django Unchained. Go figure.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

      I know the skit was written for her, but I did cringe for her in that she disses her fellow nominees which is in poor taste, even though I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan.


      • Chris138

        Ah, yeah. That is lame.

      • Chester

        Most people should get the fact that it was all a joke, like her "I beat Meryl" line at the Globes. It was a little weird, but she did add a nice comment and as pointed out it was written for her.
        I personally thought it was hilarious but being a younger person and not an older person with the Academy, I can see why they would could be turned off by it.

        I hope Jennifer or Jessica wins, since I really doubt the Academy will give an acting award to a foreign person a second year in a row, but you never know.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

          I am not an old geezer so I have no problem taking it in stride. I can separate the actor and their performance from something like that which is in jest.
          That said, if I were her I might have asked for a bit of a rewrite on the hazing of competitors.
          this year is so delicate too. there is very little margin in some of the categories, especially this one. It may have made a difference...

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/SirTrey/ Sir Trey

      Having seen both Django and The Master twice, I agree about Waltz (and that's not even getting to that, personally, I thought both Jackson and DiCaprio were better, but anyway) being co-lead...he's in almost every shot/scene with Foxx until his exit and I don't think him not being in the climax bumps him down to supporting. But in The Master, the film starts and ends with Phoenix, and there's plenty of time where he's alone or with other characters and Hoffman isn't.

      As far as I'm concerned, Hoffman and Adams should be taking home trophies but Hathaway is a lock and Jones/De Niro both have better odds, which is sad. The Master winning zero Oscars would be rather disappointing, if not at all surprising. I'd even argue for Phoenix over Day-Lewis if I had to...push comes to shove, I'd vote for DDL but it's not as cut and dry as people seem to think. Phoenix is PHENOMENAL.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/lalecture/ lalecture

        I thought The Master was gripping. I came out of it immediately thinking both Phoenix and Hoffman deserve awards of some sort. Especially phoenix. I agree his role was more impressive and much more challenging to portray.

  • Ed

    This is exactly how I assume most of the ballots are filled out: people vote for the choice they like best. Their reason for liking it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the work or performance.

  • Colin

    I wish a story like this broke the year social network lost best picture.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    I'm confused. How / why is this person voting in so many categories?

    Sean Astin was on the SchmoesKnow podcast a couple weeks ago and brought his Oscar ballot to discuss the system. He was saying how all the Academy members vote for Best Picture, but then you only get to vote in your respective field beyond that (i.e. he would only vote in the other acting categories, DP's vote only in cinematography, etc.). Maybe it's different for directors?

    • Chris138

      I always thought that was the kind of system used for nominations, but when it comes to voting for who wins the awards then all members are supposed to vote in every category. I think it's kind of BS and should be the way that Astin described it on that radio show you mention, but I guess that's just the way things are.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

    This has really angered people eh? I actually enjoyed it. People have been crying for more transparency in the voting, but one guy comes forward and is ripped apart. You wonder why they keep it so secretive.
    So what he didn't like the same films as you? So what his thought process in choosing his favourites aren't the same as yours? It's his decision and he can make what ever he likes and how ever he likes. At least he was funny, right? (Also I think some of you are taking his jokes a little too seriously. Do you actually think he didn't vote for Quvenzhane Wallis because of her first name? Calm down)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/maja/ maja

    To be honest, i'm just relieved he actually filled in the ballot himself instead of giving it to his secretary like Laremy has suggested Oscar voters do.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/SirTrey/ Sir Trey

    I thought this was hilarious and not particularly surprising. If some of you out there would be entirely objective and noble and only vote for THE BEST without any bias or alternate reasoning then I applaud you. But for the rest of us that bring personal reasons and opinions into most decisions, voting for the Oscars would be no different.

    With that said, I think it would be better if most people did at least try to vote more towards the best, but it's ludicrous to think no biases will slip in, and it's refreshing to see someone be that honest, even if it may very well be a show put on for The Hollywood Reporter. There were some very amusing comments in the article.

    The article also showed me something interesting; I didn't know they didn't print the names for cinematography. I think that's notable not just because you want to give someone an Oscar (though if it's basically a tie in your mind, I have little problem with that being the tiebreaker) but also because if someone basically cloned their previous work that could very well count against them. Granted, if you do basic research you can find that out but you sadly can't rely on that for everyone.

    I think the best part was how he chose Best Animated Feature...let's play spin the iPhone!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/topyxyz/ topyxyz

    Well at least he's honest about it/


    Okay, I get it. I realize that my belief that the Academy Awards should be only about the excellence in filmmaking for that year is naive. But to have the personal (and in many cases irrelevant) comments of an Academy member shared as they complete their ballot process is disiheartening. I'm just an ordinary person who loves the movies and who looks forward to the Oscars each year. I don't have the insight that many of your bloggers have. But, to me, the movies are an illusion, and I feel like the magician just explained how the trick was performed. Kinda sad...