B: If I were an Oscar voter…

Every year, there is a pretty distinct divide between the Academy’s votes and America’s votes on what was the best in cinema from the past year.

Last year, Best Picture went to The King’s Speech, while it was pretty apparent that, if you or I were to vote for the award, the winner would have been Inception or Toy Story 3 or The Social Network.

Two years ago, we probably would have chosen big-budget Avatar over little-known The Hurt Locker.

But this doesn’t just happen in the Best Picture category: it happens across the board. Last year, Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Fighter. My choice: Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit.

And how about Original Screenplay last year. Would you have chosen The King’s Speech to win over Inception, as the Academy did? Likely not.

So, without further ado, here are my preferences — not predictions, but preferences — for this year’s Academy Awards. In each category, I’ve listed the nominees, my preference for which film or performance I want to win (selected strictly from the nominees — I’m not including snubs), and a little bit on why I would vote the way that I have. Keep in mind, these are my preferences, not my predictions — I’ll share those with you Sunday before the show.

I should note that I haven’t seen each and every one of these films, just as many of the Academy voters likely haven’t, so I am going from only what I have seen. Now, I suppose we’ll just start with Best Picture…



  1. The Artist
  2. The Descendants
  3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  4. The Help
  5. Hugo
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. Moneyball
  8. The Tree of Life
  9. War Horse

It’s no secret which film I’ve chosen as my favorite film of the year. But with The Artist sitting so close to the top of that list, and it being the likely winner, has anything changed for me? No. I’ve seen Moneyball twice since making my list, and I still think it was the best film all year, with great performances all around, fabulous writing from the Sorkin/Zaillian duo, and some magnificent editing and music. I do, however, think that Hazanavicius’ The Artist deserves merit for the things it did right. I just found Moneyball to be more enjoyable, I suppose.

My Vote: Moneyball



  1. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  2. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  3. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  4. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  5. Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

This is a tough one for me to make my own judgment on. I liked each of these films, and I even loved a few of them. Michel Hazanavicius won the DGA award for Best Director, so it goes without saying that he is the likely winner here. And I personally think he did a magnificent job in directing this film: he made a silent film relevant in 2011-12. Then I think about the sheer magic that Woody Allen brought to Midnight in Paris. But I can’t help but think about Scorsese here: he made a “kid’s film” that is so much more than that: it’s an exploration of his love for cinema. There is so much in this movie that, even if you didn’t necessarily love Hugo, you have to love Scorsese’s passion and how much of himself he put into it.

My Vote: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)



  1. Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
  2. George Clooney (The Descendants)
  3. Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  4. Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  5. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Another category where my vote could go a number of different ways for a number of different reasons. Gary Oldman is, to me, one of the best actors in the business. He has such a magnificent body of work (if you haven’t seen Léon, do yourself a favor and watch it), that this being his first nomination is almost a shock to me. George Clooney is easily among the most likable men in Hollywood; how can you not fall in love with each and every one of his performances? His performance in The Descendants was so great, leaping from one emotion to another without difficulty. And I have taken a liking to Jean Dujardin since he got his first big win on the awards circuit at the SAGs. His performance is magnificent, brilliant even, and he did it all without saying (hardly) a word. But Brad Pitt is my guy. I have a self-professed man crush on him. And, he plays Billy Beane to perfection in Moneyball. His performance is so nuanced, so classic Hollywood (think Cary Grant), that I can’t help but wonder how he has never won an Oscar before.

My Vote: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)



  1. Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
  2. Viola Davis (The Help)
  3. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  4. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  5. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Admittedly, this race is between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep, and the Academy seems poised to give the trophy to Davis for her magnificent performance in The Help. It really is a beautiful portrayal. But I keep coming back to Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in Dragon Tattoo. Where Viola has history to draw from for her performance, Rooney had to create Lisbeth. Yes, her character is adapted from a book, but there are very few ways to tell someone to play a revenge-seeking punk hacker.

My Vote: Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)



  1. Kenneth Brannagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  2. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  3. Nick Nolte (Warrior)
  4. Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  5. Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Jonah Hill was marvelous alongside Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Nick Nolte was at the top of his game as a distant father in Warrior. But this is Christopher Plummer’s year. I found Beginners to be an unbalanced movie: it is so strong in its 75 minutes, but its last 15 minutes leave a bit to be desired. And that’s because of Christopher Plummer. That’s how you know the performance was so good. Without Plummer, the film begins to falter.

My Vote: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)



  1. Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
  2. Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  3. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  4. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  5. Octavia Spencer (The Help)

The Help had some of the best performances all year. It’s no wonder that the film won Best Ensemble at the SAGs. From Davis to Spencer to Chastain to Stone to Howard, there really is no weak link. Spencer is poised to win, but personally, I think that I found Chastain to be a scene-stealer in The Help. And Melissa McCarthy was a strong point in an otherwise pretty good Bridesmaids. However, I still can’t get Bejo’s performance out of my head. She plays the role of a Hollywood newcomer with such exuberance, such charm, and that is hard to do when you can’t speak.

My Vote: Berenice Bejo (The Artist)



  1. The Artist
  2. Bridesmaids
  3. Margin Call
  4. Midnight in Paris
  5. A Separation

For me, it’s between The Artist and Midnight in Paris. And Woody Allen wins here. His script for Midnight in Paris is magical, from the settings to the ideas to the dialogue. Allen’s screenplay is easily the strongest component of this magnificent film.

My Vote: Midnight in Paris



  1. The Descendants
  2. The Help
  3. Hugo
  4. Moneyball
  5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

One of the few categories where I’ve seen all the nominees. Each of these screenplays are great, that’s no question. I liked Hugo, but when I saw it, I didn’t immediately think “great screenplay.” Same with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Help. So it comes down to The Descendants and Moneyball, and I can’t help but think that Moneyball must have been the toughest of these to bring to the screen. It could have stumbled in so many ways had the screenplay not been so strong.

My Vote: Moneyball

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One thought on “B: If I were an Oscar voter…

  1. Pingback: Oscar Predictions from Boca Raton's Raymond Lee Jewelers | The Raymond Lee Jewelers Blog

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