General Thoughts

I take my responsibilities as an Academy member very seriously — I’ve literally seen every movie that’s nominated — and I think that taking those eight categories out of the live show is incredibly disrespectful to our membership. This show is about the people who make the movies, for people who love the movies, and to basically make the nominees in these other categories second-class citizens is just wrong. Editing is taken out, right? What is a movie — or a TV broadcast — without editing? It’s crazy to me. They care too much about the ratings of the show; God love ’em, but Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes aren’t going to help those either. We have to remember that the Oscars is inherently a niche thing — we’re giving gold trophies to millionaires! — and not forget why we do what we do.

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Best Picture

The movie that I would have loved to have put in the number one spot sadly didn’t even get nominated, which was The Worst Person in the World. That’s one of the most amazing movies of the last five years. But moving on, I hated Licorice Pizza. It was probably the best directed interpretation of a bad script that I’ve seen in years. I just can’t believe that in 2022 we’re still rewarding blatant, unecessarily racist movies, and that people just brush over the stuff with the accent — it didn’t add anything to the movie and no one in the movie commented on it. The excuse that “that was of the time” is bullshit. The Power of the Dog was just too slow and boring — I genuinely don’t understand why this movie is so amazing to people. It’s also not a storyline that we haven’t seen a million times before — the repressed angry gay cowboy who is hurtful to everyone else because he can’t deal with his own feelings — and the ending was a little confusing. Nightmare Alley was fine, but I liked others more. West Side Story had fantastic direction and cinematography, but I just hate the story, which is ridiculous — like, you met this guy two days ago and you’re going to die for him? Come on. He killed your brother and you’re like, “I’m still going to have sex with him”? But it was well made and beautiful. King Richard has a bunch of tremendous performances — Will [Smith] was great, Aunjanue [Ellis] was great, the girls [Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton] were great — but the movie didn’t blow me away. I really liked Dune — I wish I had gotten to see it in theaters, but even on my TV it played great. The other four were neck and neck with each other. Don’t Look Up is polarizing but I really loved it — I thought it nailed the satire that it was going for. Belfast is one of the most beautiful movies of the year, in terms of its story and cinematography. Drive My Car was very long but amazing — I watched it like a limited series, in six thirty-minute installments, until I got all the way through, because I was working at the time and didn’t have three hours for anything. And then there’s CODA, which I was rooting for long before it looked like it could realistically happen. It’s beautiful for so many reasons, and it actually made me cry, and that was something I couldn’t ignore. I thought it was particuarly beautiful in its representation of deaf storytelling, and I think the only way to encourage the making of more movies about marginalized people is to recognize them when they are as good as this one.

VOTE: (1) CODA, (2) Drive My Car, (3) Belfast, (4) Don’t Look Up, (5) Dune, (6) King Richard, (7) West Side Story, (8) Nightmare Alley, (9) The Power of the Dog, (10) Licorice Pizza

Best Director

Licorice Pizza was very well directed — Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant — but I cannot reward that film for anything. Jane [Campion] did a beautiful job directing The Power of the Dog — like with Licorice Pizza, I can separate my overall feelings about the movie and acknowledge that the direction was impressive. [Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s] Drive My Car was a beautiful slow-burn. For me, [Kenneth Branagh’s] Belfast was a close runner up. But, while I think the story of West Side Story is silly, the presentation and direction was incredible. I very specifically remember being captivated by how Steven [Spielberg] moved the camera in it.

VOTE: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

illustration of an Oscar statue throwing a paper airplane that is aflame

Best Actor

I actually loved [Being the Ricardos‘] Javier Bardem — in a different movie, The Good Boss. He was great in the Ricardos, too. Andrew Garfield was phenomenal in Tick, Tick… Boom!. But it was between Will [Smith, of King Richard] and Denzel [Washington, of The Tragedy of Macbeth] for me, and Will was so transformative that it tipped the scales.

VOTE: Will Smith, King Richard

Best Actress

All of these women were great, but it’s [Parallel Mothers’] Penelope Cruz, super slam dunk. She was funny in a way that I can’t remember her being in a long time, which is kind of crazy when you think about how heavy that story is.

VOTE: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Best Supporting Actor

God love [Being the Ricardos‘] J.K. Simmons, but I don’t know how he got into this category. I thought the Belfast guy [Ciaran Hinds] was great. But I went with Troy Kotsur — oh my God, he was incredible in CODA, just hilarious, raw, emotional.

VOTE: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Supporting Actress

Mass was easily one of the best films of the year and Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton both deserved nominations more than half the women on the list. Judi Dench was phenomenal in Belfast. [West Side Story’s] Ariana DeBose is going to win this award, and that’s fine, she gave a fantastic performance. But I thought Aunjanue Ellis’ performance was also incredible, and I voted for her.

VOTE: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Best Adapted Screenplay

I look at what the script has been adapted from, and of these movies, it felt to me like adapting Drive My Car posed the greatest challenge for a writer.

VOTE: Drive My Car

Best Original Screenplay

Belfast and Don’t Look Up were worthy contenders — Kenneth Branagh and Adam McKay are geniuses. But this was an easy choice for me: The Worst Person in the World. It’s such a fresh take on what feels like a romantic-comedy, but is a grown-up film at the same time. I was very surprised to not see Renate [Reinsve, the film’s lead actress] in the best actress category, and I hoped that the film might sneak into best picture, too, given how much people were loving it. The script was just so inventive.

VOTE: The Worst Person in the World

Best Animated Feature

I was really high on The Mitchells vs. The Machines, but then I watched Encanto and I was just completely blown away — the animation and the music floored me. Lin [-Manuel Miranda] is just so good — it’s almost like he should write a musical! [laughs]

VOTE: Encanto

Best Documentary Feature

This was tough, man. I loved Summer of Soul, but when I compared it to its counterparts it didn’t stick with me the way the others did. I really dug Flee, Attica and Ascension a lot. I ended up voting for Attica because the story was just so powerful, the way it’s laid out, with these guys still telling that story so many years later. It might be recency bias because I saw Attica more recently than the others.

VOTE: Attica

Best International Feature

I didn’t really care for [Lunana] A Yak in the Classroom at all. The Hand of God is very good. I love Drive My Car. But the movie that I really love is The Worst Person in the World.

VOTE: The Worst Person in the World

Best Cinematography

This was so hard because Dune, [The Tragedy of] Macbeth and West Side Story are all equally deserving of this award. I went with Dune because I couldn’t ignore the practicality and scope of it.

VOTE: Dune

Best Costume Design

It was between Cruella, Dune and West Side Story, and I went with Dune because it just had some really fucking cool costumes, like the whole liquid suit thing.

VOTE: Dune

Best Film Editing

Tick, Tick… Boom! was tempting — it’s such a talent and gift to be able to edit music and live-action together in that way — but I was just really enamored by Don’t Look Up. I remember watching it and thinking, “How the fuck did he edit this movie?”

VOTE: Don’t Look Up

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The makeup and hairstyling is very impressive with all five of these. For me, it was between Coming 2 America and Cruella, so I went back and looked at images from the movies and came away more impressed by Coming 2 America. Its style and color is what tipped it for me.

VOTE: Coming 2 America

Best Original Score

Dune is just such an epic score.

VOTE: Dune

Best Original Song

I know the Bond songs always seem to win, but this one [“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die] is a genuinely good song! “Be Alive” is also great, but I really loved “No Time to Die.” Like, I remember the way it made me feel the first time I heard it, even before I saw the movie — I was like, “That’s a fucking great song.” Her [Billie Eilish’s] voice is amazing, and the way they [Eilish and Finneas O’Connell] work together is kind of incredible.

VOTE: “No Time to Die,” No Time to Die

Best Production Design

West Side Story was beautiful — very well done and captivating. I was so transported by it.

VOTE: West Side Story

Best Sound

It was between Dune and West Side Story for me, and I went with Dune because it really struck me in the moment how incredible the sound was. Even though I didn’t see it in a theater, I have a theater system at home, so I got a lot of it. It was good enough that it scared my dog!

VOTE: Dune

Best Visual Effects

My initial instinct was Spider-Man [No Way Home] — the visual effects were phenomenal — but I went back and thought about it and eventually went with Free Guy because it was such a surprise. I mean, we’ve seen Marvel visual effects before, but Free Guy was so inventive and fun in a way I hadn’t seen in a while, so I decided to think outside the box on this one.

VOTE: Free Guy

Best Animated Short

Prior to nominations I watch a ton of animated and live action shorts. For both categories I watched all of the ones assigned to me, plus 10 or 15 assigned to other groups, so probably over 100 in total. Of the animated shorts which were nominated, there were several strong ones. I thought Boxballet was interesting. But The Windshield Wiper is one of the best animated shorts I’ve seen in, God, I don’t know how long. It was really well done and for grown ups, which I loved. It felt like a real piece of art to me.

VOTE: The Windshield Wiper

Best Documentary Short

Three Songs for Benazir was fine, but it didn’t really hold my attention. Lead Me Home is noble filmmaking, but so sad. When We Were Bullies was really interesting, but it didn’t pay off for me. And The Queen of Basketball was very tempting. But I think Audible is just phenomenal — the storytelling in that film, from start to finish, is so clear and amazing that you can see a clear roadmap for a fictionalized version of that story.

VOTE: Audible

Best Live Action Short

On My Mind was the weakest of the bunch. This was hard because Please Hold was so creative and inventive and so well done, but The Long Goodbye and The Dress were both grown-up filmmaking with powerful messages.

VOTE: The Long Goodbye

Hollywood Reporter Original Article