Yikes. It's time to go behind the curtain to see how the Oscars sausage is really made. It ain't pretty.
Every year, The Hollywood Reporter prints the brutally honest ballot of an anonymous Academy member. (You may recall last year's ballot bashing "The Revenant" and "ridiculous" Leonardo DiCaprio.)
This year they picked a woman in the actor's branch who hated "Arrival" with a passion; also hated "Jackie"; ruled out Viola Davis in a protest vote against her placement in the wrong category; said Denzel Washington has played his "Fences" role a million times before; and felt Meryl Streep played her "Florence Foster Jenkins" role like a clown. But at least she loved "Hell or High Water."
The Academy member shared her take on every category, but here are two, just as examples.
I hated Arrival — it just sucked. I didn't like Fences because they just filmed the play — I wanted to see the guy go into the jazz club and play his music, the girl who's having his baby, his kid on the football field. But I think Denzel [Washington, its producer/director/star] decided that every word of the script [by the late August Wilson] was so precious that he wasn't going to "mess" with it, and the movie suffered as a result. I loved the first half of Lion, but I felt like a different director and cinematographer made the second half. I thought Hidden Figures was wonderful — because it's a great story, not because it was especially hard to tell. It's almost like a glorified Movie of the Week. Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge were really very good, but I don't think of them as a best picture. La La Land was tremendously enjoyable, but not all that deep or memorable. That left me with Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water, two compassionate movies that were incredibly well written, directed and acted. Hell or High Water isn't going to win, but it was my favorite, and it will be remembered as a true American classic.
(1) Hell or High Water
(2) Manchester by the Sea
(3) La La Land
(4) Hacksaw Ridge
I liked none of them. I thought Meryl [Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins] played it like a clown — she's cute and adorable, but this woman didn't matter to me in the end — but people are gaga over Meryl, and I think she solidified her nomination when she gave that speech at the Golden Globes. I don't think she would have gotten nominated without it. I hated Jackie so much — it was just shallow crap — so no Natalie Portman. [Elle's] Isabelle Huppert is an ice-cold actress, and I eliminated her because when you get attacked, beaten and raped, you're not the same person afterward, but she was, and I wanted to slap her to try to get a reaction out of her. The girl in La La Land [Emma Stone] is going to win because she's adorable and everybody loves her, but I don't think she was as wonderful as people are saying. That leaves me with Ruth Negga for Loving, who was fairly one-note, but engaging enough.
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Yeah, if a rape victim doesn't react enough for you, better slap her around a bit more. Anyway, if you want honest, you get honest here. Read the whole thing. "I hated ____" comes up a lot, but she did actually like a few things beyond "Hell or High Water," including Viggo Mortensen in "Captain Fantastic" and the Swedish film "A Man Called Ove."
The Oscars air this Sunday, Feb. 26 on ABC. Here's the full list of nominations.
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