Awards season: The months-long stretch where Hollywood puts its money where its mouth is, when industry professionals make their voices heard as they decorate their peers with gilded statues in honor of the year’s crowning achievements in cinema. But, are the victors who take home the hardware always the most deserving candidates in the eyes of their colleagues?
To gauge the state of the current awards race, which ends Sunday during the 92nd Oscars telecast, EW caught up with eight Academy members — whose identities will remain a secret — to find out how they really feel about this year’s frontrunners and which films and performances they voted for on their ballots. Read on for the results.
The Male Director: A British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominee whose work balances star-studded comedies on the big screen and pulse-pounding television dramas.
The Female Director: Her prolific career spans producing, acting, and writing for movies and television, but this Emmy-nominated filmmaker has generated major headlines out of Sundance for her work as a director.
The Actor: With nods from the Indie Spirits and Screen Actors Guild Awards under his belt, this international performer has amassed a robust credit sheet that includes appearances in Oscar-nominated movies and several beloved TV shows.
The Actress: A veteran actress with a memorable Academy Award nomination to her name, this iconic Oscar player has deep ties to the industry in addition to appearing in celebrated films, from Best Picture nominees to cult oddities.
The Producer: She’s helped bring iconic recording artists and A-list performers alike in front of movie cameras by producing Oscar-nominated films (and other commercial hits) for screens big and small over a career that has landed her two Emmy nominations.
The Writer: His whip-smart scripts have won him an Oscar, a BAFTA statuette, and a Golden Globe nomination over his 17-year career penning everything from social satires to searing dramas.
The Composer: You’ve heard his two-time Golden Globe-nominated music scoring emotional moments in Oscar-nominated movies for two decades.
The Publicist: An award-winning publicist who’s well-respected in the Oscar community for her key contributions to the gilded campaigns of multiple major Academy Awards players over the last 20 years.
Courtesy of NEON CJ Entertainment
The Male Director: I’m going to go for Parasite because I think from the first frame of the movie it’s a masterpiece. You pause that movie on any frame, it’s like a Stanley Kubrick film: every scene is a painting. It’s engaging, funny, dramatic, sad, and surprising, and I’m so pleased that it’s gotten into the main categories because foreign-language films often don’t…. Jojo Rabbit has been overhyped to such a massive degree; I just don’t get it at all.
The Female Director: Parasite is a near-perfect film. It works on every level. It’s wholly original and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s commenting on society while also being entertaining. It talks a lot about class consciousness, privilege, and entitlement in a way that hasn’t been examined in a while. As our class difference grows, it just feels like this movie explores that in a way that we take for granted in terms of what privilege does and the toxicity it brings to our culture. It seems like it’s serving the people in power, but it’s not serving them as well. It’s an interesting way to dive into that political message in the guise of this thriller-comedy-horror movie.
I think Marriage Story is really overrated. I don’t get it. The performances are good, but the beginning is like, “Look at me! I’m Woody Allen!” I don’t know if everyone forgot how good Woody Allen’s movies are. It never gets anywhere. I also found it really embarrassing that, in a semi-autobiographical story, the director makes his character a literal genius. Are you kidding me? The fact that Scarlett Johansson’s dialogue was like “I was so amazed that anybody with your intellect would pay attention to me!” was cringey.
The Actor: Parasite. I watched it the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a fantastic overall picture. It says so much about life, people, and humanity. I’ve been thinking about it for days. It’s so original and different. I couldn’t get into Jojo Rabbit. It’s like Marmite, you either love it or you don’t. Like, what am I watching? I struggled with the whole concept.
The Actress: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I lean toward my friends, and Quentin is a friend, and I enjoyed the film and his combination of humor and poignancy.
The Producer: Parasite. It’s fresh, it’s original, it’s surprising. For me, Best Picture needs to say something about a society, and in this case it’s about what’s going on in the world. It hit all the marks in terms of what a Best Picture should be. I’m a little old-fashioned, but when you think of the Doctor Zhivagos, the [Best Picture nominees of the past], they’re beautiful, glorious, and sweeping to watch. They said something.
The Writer: It’s not just about the quality of the movie. It’s always about the broader cultural conversation, so I’ll go with Parasite. I feel like the other films are all looking back, and Parasite is looking forward to where the industry is going. We’re buying diversity in the Academy with internationalism, and Parasite represents that future. [Its themes] will play on a global level in a way that some of our other more domestic issues won’t.
The Composer: Picture and Director are always connected for me. It’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I had two runners-up: Joker and Parasite. But Once Upon a Time is a film I’d watch again and again. It has this mature director’s freedom; he’s showing and telling everything. It’s not trimmed to the bone. You need a director with a lot of leverage to do this.
Jojo Rabbit is a Sundance movie. It just screams “we didn’t have the budget,” including for the acting talent. I just didn’t understand who this movie was for and what it was supposed to convince us of, telling us that Nazis are bad. The Irishman was also a letdown. I never bought that Robert De Niro played a 40-year-old. He moved like a much older person. I love Scorsese’s past movies, but the film was not there. The third controversial opinion is probably Marriage Story, which completely missed my expectations… I had a big problem with Scarlett Johansson. They wanted her to look like an average mother, not particularly beautiful, her hair was, I don’t know, cut with scissors, she’s dressed in baggy shirts, it was just over the top [de-glamming]. It didn’t feel realistic. Almost all actresses that I know personally would never afford this kind of image to the outside world. It was bloated with this need of proving the point.
The Publicist: My No. 1 vote will go to Parasite. It has the most to say, and says it in a thrilling way. It’s just a perfect film. I think it’s time for a movie like this. It’s made history in a unique way, it’s happening at a very unique time in our cultural history, and I’d be proud, as an Academy member, for it to represent our industry as the best of the year…. My least favorite was The Irishman, and it hurts me to say that because I’m an enormous fan of Marty Scorsese. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, it’s just not my favorite Scorsese film. [The Joker] controversy didn’t weigh on my mind while voting. I try to avoid stories like that as much as possible because I don’t think it should be about the perceived problems with a movie. When you see a film, you should see it with fresh eyes and an open mind and heart, too. I thought Joker had a lot to say and it was beautifully made. Was it a tough movie? Sure. It needed to be.
The Male Director: Bong Joon Ho. I know Sam Mendes is being talked about as a favorite, but with the greatest respect to Sam, 1917 is technically a good film in terms of the cinematography, but I certainly didn’t find it engaging. With Parasite, Bong gives you every kind of emotion and he’s economical with his movement. That’s a proper director, working at the top of his game…. I have a lot of respect for Todd Phillips because the guy’s coming from a completely different background. If Scorsese had made Joker, it wouldn’t have the controversy. It’s because he made Hangover and these other films and he’s not getting enough respect for it.
The Female Director: Bong Joon Ho. This is really hard because I want Martin Scorsese to have [another] Oscar with all of my heart. The Irishman, I was freaked out by the blue eyes. One of my friends said it was like The Polar Express…. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, even though I love watching Brad Pitt meander as much as anyone, I had a feeling that if I’d directed that movie, people would be like, “This chick had Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt and she turned in this?” It would’ve been over for me. It’s an exercise in privilege, like, he’s meandering around the things that fascinate him and shows it to you for two hours and it gets all the awards. If you look at the staging of [Parasite] it’s so well thought out and the shots are beautiful, they all say something. [On my nominations ballot] I had Greta…. I’m always supporting female directors, so my ballot was all women. It was Lulu Wang, Alma Har’el for Honey Boy. Basically, it was all women and Bong. If you’re a white dude, you weren’t on my ballot.
The Actress: Quentin Tarantino. I thought his direction was great. I hate it when he gets too violent in his films, and I loved that he didn’t do that in this one. His use of music was brilliant, and I’m jealous that I’ve never been in a Quentin film, although he’s told me I will be. [Brad and Leo] together are terrific, like Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
The Producer: Sam Mendes. The feat of what he accomplished, it’s a trick or a gimmick, but it’s remarkable and inventive. It takes directing to another level of feeling like it’s a single shot.
The Writer: I’ll go with Quentin Tarantino. I haven’t loved a Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction, but there’s a lovely Tarantino-esque magical realism to this one that’s unique. As an artist, he’s working through some issues in which he doesn’t know where he’s going to take us, and I like that we go on a journey of discovery with Quentin, particularly about his relationship to women, and I like where it lands. It might not be sophisticated or woke enough to some people, but I like that he’s working through those things in a way that’s candid.
[On the Little Women “snub”] One thing we know is the Academy is now 32 percent women, and probably the directors branch is somewhere between 20 and 25 percent women…. You can identify women around the planet who’d directed beautiful movies, and it’s easier to identify applicable applicants. Those women don’t necessarily like Little Women because it’s a very American movie, it has that happiness, that slightly warm feeling that, if you’re a European, might not appeal to you.
The Composer: Quentin Tarantino. The direction is the part that ultimately either creates or breaks a movie, and in this case…. would it be worth [to separate Best Picture and Best Director]?
The Publicist: Bong Joon Ho. It’s complex, it’s nuanced, it’s tight, he’s a filmmaker that has something to say and he’s explored that in much of his other work, but this film is just 100 percent perfect from start to finish. It pulls off a tonal miracle, and that’s attributed to the director and editor, that collaboration.
Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.
The Male Director: I’m going for Joaquin Phoenix. I don’t think anyone comes close. He is the film. I know people have been critical of it being particularly dark, but purely in terms of an actor’s performance, it’s a total masterclass…. If the media bubble was pushing me one way, I’d tend to react against it, because I think you have to listen to the cinema-going public, and the film is getting reviewed well and getting big numbers — it was a $50 million art film that made $1 billion. It’s not a Marvel movie or a silly action figure movie. It’s a proper film! Heath Ledger would be proud.
The Female Director: I went for Antonio Banderas. I love Adam Driver, but, I don’t know any director that breaks into full Sondheim songs when their play wraps. It’s like, what the f— is this? What’s happening? I love Pedro Almodóvar so much, so anybody that can bring him to life, I think he went through the pain of the story. It’s so easy to fall into the tropes of a drug addict, and Antonio brought a beautiful specificity and kept his heart really open and made us care and love this guy. Because he’s so pretty, he’s always been overlooked, but he’s a stunning actor.
The Actor: I’m going with Joaquin Phoenix. It was a tight one between him and Adam Driver, but I voted for Joaquin not just because of the acting, but the physicality. He did an incredible job with that, it’s just so weird, fantastic, and powerful. I thought it was a great achievement to take somebody so horrible and make him almost understandable.
The Actress: I voted for Joaquin Phoenix. I was sort of stunned by his performance. I thought he could’ve been a little bit more vulnerable, but his choices were so fascinating and the use of his body [was fantastic].
The Producer: Jonathan Pryce. I loved Two Popes more than I thought I would. I’m Catholic, so I have more interest in the process, but you had these two guys who are at the top of their game as actors in these beautifully written roles.
The Writer: I love when any Oscar performance has that Oscar moment where the actor wears down your critical analysis and you’re just so fully with them that they can do anything they want with you in moments of pure emotional intensity and authenticity. When Adam Driver sings the Sondheim song, which you’re convinced is not going to be interesting when it starts, he slowly sucks you in and it’s so powerful and emotional that you’re crying like a baby.
The Composer: I’m voting for Joaquin Phoenix. The whole movie was a surprise to me. I expected not to like it, but I ended up loving it. I thought it would be kind of artsy and fake, like taking a comic book character and making it very harrowing, but it turned out to be interesting and deep.
The Publicist: I will vote in Best Actor once I have seen every film. [Now] Joaquin Phoenix is at the top of my list and I can’t imagine anything [else]. He bowled me over. It’s so riveting and any quibble that I had or that anybody could have with the toughness of the movie just falls away when there’s a performance like that at its core.
Hilary B. Gayle/Lionsgate
The Male Director: Charlize Theron. I was once on a flight beside Megyn Kelly, and this film could’ve been a documentary in terms of how well she portrayed that character. A lot of props go to the makeup department as well, but she’s phenomenal. I enjoyed Bombshell way more than Judy, it’s a far better film and that’s probably swaying my judgment. I’m a fan of Renée and I think she’ll win, but I’m not voting for her because I think that Charlize had a better performance.
The Female Director: I know everyone is saying Renée and Saoirse Ronan are perfect, but I’m weirdly leaning toward Charlize Theron because, at the end of the movie, I forgot I was watching her! It’s insane to completely forget that she transformed herself. Cynthia Erivo is pretty fantastic in everything. I wish she had more to do in that movie, but what she did, she did excellently.
The Actor: Scarlett Johansson. Marriage Story is devastating, I loved her performance. She’s emotionally available and on edge throughout the whole film. As an actor, I found it to be an engaging performance. It really stayed with me. She played it really well and spoke to a woman who’s trying to find herself outside of a controlling relationship.
The Actress: I don’t think Renée Zellweger had a lot of competition. I like it when there’s more competition. I voted for her, but I wish there had been more vulnerability than there was, and I thought that it was very brilliant what she did with her body and her voice. She’s so totally different from Judy Garland, and my hat is off to her for creating that transformation. I just wish she had made me cry.
The Producer: Cynthia Erivo. The role was challenging and complex, and I thought she brought strength, humanity, and fierceness. She captured the evolution of the character so beautifully, from someone who was a slave who couldn’t read or write and had no power at all, and we watched her slowly, almost like a butterfly, turn into a warrior to save her people. Renée is going to win, and I think it’s a great performance, and she’s had a great comeback story. I get it. But, the nomination is huge for Cynthia.
The Writer: Charlize Theron. Renée Zellweger is really good, but what Charlize did was not just a technical virtuosity. You hear the gasps as audience members understand she’s not Megyn Kelly. She’s always been an actress who’s painted by withholding light, and that’s what draws you in, and she did it really beautifully in this film by putting us in the perspective of Megyn Kelly in a way that accommodates our ambivalence about her. She doesn’t just know when to be cold and when not be cold, but she brings a nice grab bag of qualities that accommodate where we are emotionally about the real human being, and then gently takes us on a journey of the discovery of the other aspects of her life.
The Composer: Saoirse Ronan. It’s lovely and simple. I’m choosing from the nominees only, she wouldn’t be my choice overall. But, she produced something beautiful and touching. [If it wasn’t limited to the nominees], it would be Lupita Nyong’o for Us. She was a victim of a genre movie, which are often dismissed.
The Publicist: I haven’t seen Judy since Telluride and I want to revisit it. It’s between Charlize Theron or Renée Zellweger. Both are equally outstanding. I also loved Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. If we’re talking about the performances in general, I think Scarlett is a brilliant actress but I loved her so much more in Jojo Rabbit, and Marriage Story felt more like Adam Driver’s story. I don’t vote [because someone is steamrolling]. People feel like in general the Oscars will reward someone with a “career achievement” award. I don’t do that. I try to look at the film and performance as a whole and determine the ones that touched me the most, and it’s hard because it’s a year with great performances. I am [leaning towards Renée Zellweger].
Best Supporting Actor
The Male Director: Pesci, because a lot of people are going for Brad Pitt, and he was brilliant, but he’s kind of playing a version of himself. I think Pesci is so subtle in a gangster movie compared to what he has been in Casino and obviously Goodfellas, and I know it’s a different pace of film, but he’s proven that he has the best range of his generation. Everything from Home Alone to Lethal Weapon, this guy may not be the most popular actor out there, but, for me [it’s him]. Why it’s getting nominated for VFX, I’m gobsmacked, because the VFX weren’t good. If someone else had made that movie apart from Scorsese, it wouldn’t have had as many nominations.
The Female Director: I’m going with Anthony Hopkins because The Irishman was just too bananas for me. Joe Pesci is perfectly Joe Pesci. My friends have been calling Al Pacino “Alice Pacino” because the more work these older men have to have, the more they look like women and it’s so distracting to watch. It’s like, Wanda Beatty and Alice Pacino. We have to give it to Anthony Hopkins for not doing any work on his face whatsoever. His performance is so grounded and unique. Beat to beat, I didn’t see a false moment and that’s hard to say [about others].
The Actor: Brad Pitt. His performance was so relaxed, cool, and easy, but even though Leo is the star, Brad carried the film in a different way. I love his persona and his coolness. It’s a lovely performance. He’s always been a bit of a pin-up, and, this year. Ad Astra was a stretch for him, so it’s nice to see him taking roles that aren’t just about being good-looking. I think he got dark here and there are moments that [show grit]. He seemed unafraid and completely in his body.
The Actress: Tom Hanks. He totally moved me. I was crying! I just felt his soul, and it’s so rare that you see a Hollywood movie with real spirit and soul. When I came out of the theater, I said it would be my choice for Best Film. I was so moved. I think Tom Hanks is an extraordinary fellow…. He touched me deeply. The point of acting is to transform and bring the inner life forward.
The Producer: It’s a toss-up [between Anthony and Brad] but I’m going to go for Brad. I loved Sir Anthony’s performance, but it was Brad Pitt [at his best]. He’s looking good, he carried the movie. I didn’t love the movie, but I liked it a lot. It’s entertaining and the kitsch of the ‘60s was fun. Brad came ready to play here. And he’s almost 60 years old but he looks amazing. He’s the modern definition of a movie star!
The Writer: Joe Pesci, because not only is he playing against type, he’s having to find a register in this framework of forced resignation. Remember the first moment when his wife lights up a cigarette in the car and he doesn’t explode? You know this is not going to be the Pesci you’re used to. I loved the various colors he finds. I felt like there was a sophistication in that performance that I hadn’t seen in any actor and that I had no idea Pesci possessed. Obviously, Brad’s wonderful, but I fear part of Brad’s wonderfulness is the impartation of his movie star aura into that, so he’s sort of acting on a podium already.
The Composer: Brad Pitt. It was a beautifully understated performance. The scene where he enters the compound with the [cult], when he goes to check on his old buddy, it’s incredible energy. It melds together, the acting and the film itself.
The Publicist: I loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…. If you don’t love [Brad Pitt], it doesn’t work. He’s the heart and soul of that movie and carried you all the way through. Tom Hanks is amazing in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I can’t remember a time a film hit me so deeply. A lot of that is due to his performance. That moment of silence they have in the center of that film, it’s such a quiet moment and I was swallowing my own crying. Brad has a little bit of an edge for me in that it was a larger role.
Claire Folger/Warner Bros.
Best Supporting Actress
The Male Director: Kathy Bates. I’m not a big fan of Clint Eastwood’s movies in general, but this one is a great story. I’m going for her because the Supporting Actress category is not as strong as the rest of the categories, and all the other performances around her [in the movie] deserve some recognition.… so, I’d go for Kathy as a representative of all the performances in that film. The whole thing about Marriage Story…. I don’t want to see movies about actors from Upper East Side and how hard they’ve got it.
The Female Director: I haven’t seen Richard Jewell. Everybody loves Margot Robbie, and I loved her in I, Tonya, but I didn’t see her have much to do in this role. So, weirdly, I’m going for Florence Pugh, the dark horse. Florence had a bright interpretation. She could’ve gotten dour and serious, but she kept this mischievousness about her.
The Actor: Laura Dern. God, she was fantastic. Every frame, she was doing something. She’s unafraid, brave, not afraid to speak up, she had a swagger about her that was fantastic. She stood out. She’s had this fantastic career and she keeps getting better and better.
The Actress: I was surprised [that Jennifer Lopez] didn’t get in. I had her on my nominations ballot. Laura Dern I’ve known since she was a baby, and [her mother] Diane Ladd is one of my best friends, so I tend to support my friends as they supported me when I was up for [my Oscar nomination]. Laura has done many more challenging roles than this, but if this is the one that they pick, she’s been nominated and I think it’s her time.
The Producer: It’s Laura Dern’s year. It’s for Marriage Story but it’s also for Little Women and Big Little Lies. We watched her grow up and she’s f—ing fabulous. She looks amazing, she’s got fire and also vulnerability, she’s fierce, but you still like her. She’s the real-deal actress that has come into her own. The performance is really good, but the character is a bit one-note, so, for me, it’s a moment-in-career award versus strictly this performance.
The Writer: We’re buying internationalism in the Academy, but international taste will come with that. The snubs of Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers and of Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems are in part high versus low culture. I think some of the new members of the Academy don’t have the same affection we have for comedic actors or more mainstream actors stepping outside of that. They have a stronger division of high and low culture, so they didn’t appreciate those performances the way Americans did [so] I wasn’t surprised that J.Lo wasn’t on the list, but I would’ve put her on. I’m voting for Margot Robbie, in part because I think it’s the most complete performance in the category. It has so much breadth, the palette of emotions and complexity of emotions, and taking us into a very American character who’s not at all within the comfort zone of an Australian actress. She’s really going there in ways we can’t even see. She didn’t grow up in this world. She’s wholly inventing. It’s so emotionally powerful and she has such range. That scene where she’s crying outside the restaurant, feeling so guilty, it just breaks my heart.
The Composer: Florence Pugh! She was very charismatic. She continues showing these deep performances. Every scene she appeared in would be something really intriguing.
The Publicist: Scarlett Johansson. I have no words to explain what it was, but from the moment she opened her mouth, I fell in love with her as a single mother struggling to raise her son in what are extraordinary and unbelievable circumstances. She was funny and charming. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. I loved Margot Robbie in Bombshell and Laura Dern in Marriage Story, but Scarlett stole my heart. I bawled. I was very surprised [that Jennifer Lopez didn’t get in]. Going into it you think that movie is one thing, and it’s entertaining and slick and glossy, but it had a lot to say, and it really disappointed me that it didn’t get more love.
Best Original Screenplay
The Male Director: Back to Parasite! I don’t know if it’s based on some South Korean folklore, but it’s so clever. You can tell who these guys are in the first minute of the film.
The Female Director: I’m voting for Parasite again! I didn’t really [like 1917]. I think it’s ok to cut, like, editing is an amazing art. I still haven’t seen Knives Out, but I hear it’s fantastic. But, is it Parasite? Probably not. I’m on the fence about Sam Mendes, too. I resent that he got to shoot so many days of American Beauty and then was like, oh, I screwed it up, let me go back and do it over and they were like ok. That would never happen for a woman.
The Actor: Parasite. It was funny, it was moving, I’ve never seen a film like that. I sat when it finished just thinking about it. It speaks to so much about humanity, that whole shot where they go from the rich house to the poor area in the rain, it was depressing and sad, and for a foreign film to be able to achieve that was magnificent.
The Actress: Quentin is a friend, and you have to support your friends or what’s the point?
The Producer: Parasite, because the story was so well-written, well told, and fresh. It has woven in all these issues about class and resentment of circumstances, and it’s a thriller on one hand, with Hitchcockian vibes. It’s a complicated movie. I like the fact that it’s global. We’re in a global film industry right now, and we should celebrate that.
The Writer: Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story. There’s a difficulty to writing that kind of contemporary story with deeply resonant human beings in a familiar situation that he breathes new life into and finds a beautiful way to articulate the problem of what it means when love starts to die in a way I haven’t seen before. I don’t love the end, the last two minutes, because we know it’s coming and there’s nothing fresh about how it’s resolved, but the expression of that kind of difficulty and the way all of us can’t get past ourselves was pretty profound…. There’s a genius to it. Normally when I vote, I like to spread the wealth, so if I’m giving someone a nod in other categories, I’ll give someone else a nod elsewhere. I would almost never vote for Best Director and Best Screenplay for the same person.
The Composer: Parasite. This was one of my runners-up for Best Picture. It’s both entertaining and food for thought, the whole social message [and] where it starts and where it ends up, it’s a wild roller coaster ride. It’s the screenplay that provides the internal structure, and everybody worked beautifully within it.
The Publicist: Knives Out. It’s subversive comedy and has the best dialogue of the year. I walked out of it with a huge smile on my face, a euphoric feeling about the power of movies to simply entertain but also say something and not beat you over the head with it. It’s the only category it’s nominated in, which is criminal, so I’m voting for it. It’s the only way I can show my love for that movie. I have other places to recognize Parasite.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Male Director: It’s quite slim pickings this year. Just because I enjoyed the film so much, I’d go with Joker. Phoenix is the film, and I imagine that he put a lot of ideas into the story. [Little Women] didn’t blow me away. It’s been adapted before and is it remarkably better than it has been before? I’m not entirely sure. The bottom line is: If you’re good enough, you’re in there. It balances itself out. The most dangerous thing that can happen in the film industry is for people to get rewarded for one reason or the other when it’s maybe not the right time for them. I feel that with Scorsese as well. I feel like he was rewarded for the wrong movie. The amount of films he’s made, and then he gets rewarded for The Departed, which is probably one of his worst films. The other thing I don’t like is when a director doesn’t get nominated and when they go public and start shouting about it. It’s like, don’t do that. It’s embarrassing.
The Female Director: I’m torn between Jojo Rabbit and Little Women, but, I think I’m going for Little Women because it was bold to take on something everybody knows so well, and one that was more true to what women were going through at the time instead of just focusing on the romance of it all. [I loved Greta’s] focus on what it was like to want to work in an industry that doesn’t really let you work in it, which struck close to home.
The Actor: Even though I didn’t like it, I’m giving it to Jojo Rabbit. To be able to make a satire out of [World War II] is an achievement. Even though I was shocked by it, it’s an achievement to make something like that watchable.
The Actress: I voted for Greta Gerwig. I just wanted to get her in somehow because she was left out of the game. For such a young person, she’s extraordinary. I loved her script and I was shocked that she was left out.
The Producer: The Two Popes. I was prepared for it to be kind of a snooze, but I thought the two characters are beautifully written, the friendship between these two men beautifully unfolds, and it’s engrossing.
The Writer: [The Irishman‘s] Steven Zaillian did a remarkable job at writing an entire movie in which the plot is in subtext, but I’m going with Two Popes because it’s almost impossible to write resonant faith.
The Composer: Joker. It’s the most interesting variation on a comic book character and completely surprising in its depth. Sometimes it was painful to the bone and showed the pain of a psychiatric condition and mental illness. I try not to consider controversies, because it either works in a story or not. It was perfectly consistent with the character it portrays. It was not an objective call to arms.
The Publicist: Jojo Rabbit. I love the way Taika Waititi told this story. I fell in love with the characters and it gave me all the feels.
Manolo Pavón/Sony Pictures Classics
Best International Feature Film
The Male Director: I’m going for Pain and Glory to be fair. In any other year, Pain and Glory would’ve won, but Parasite is so good. Because I voted for Parasite in so many other categories, I’m going for Pain and Glory.
The Female Director: Pain and Glory, just because Parasite got so many others. I didn’t see Corpus Christi yet. I loved Les Miserables and Honeyland too, but just to watch a filmmaker that I’ve been watching for so many years do something so personal and not have one ounce of narcissism in it was so interesting. How do you do a story about yourself and what a great filmmaker you are without making us cringe?
The Actor: Parasite. It’s sweeping the board. It’s such a fantastic film. My kids were watching it and they couldn’t take their eyes off it, and they can’t stand subtitled movies.
The Actress: Parasite. It surprised me so much. I love when a filmmaker is totally ahead of me. There wasn’t one moment where I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my chair. That ensemble of actors is great. It’s exciting to have Korea in the scheme of things…. There’s something to be said about getting rid of the politics and letting the humanity come out.
The Producer: I’ve only seen Pain and Glory and Parasite. I would choose Parasite. I respected Roma and I thought it deserved to be Best Foreign Film, but not Best Picture, maybe that’s because Roma felt like it was really about the time and the place in Mexico. There’s something about Parasite that transcended the Korean society: the class conflict, the resentment, the obliviousness of the rich to the plight of the less fortunate, for me that picture transcended its origins to be global. There’s an inherent assumption [in the Academy] that the filmmaking of the English-speaking world is superior to that of the rest of the world. I don’t agree with it at all, but that’s how it’s treated. We need to evolve.
The Writer: Obviously Parasite. I liked Pain and Glory a lot, but I feel it’s a little uneven, but less uneven than most of his movies.
The Composer: Parasite. I strongly considered it for Best Picture, so it was my only choice for International Film, even though I also enjoyed Corpus Christi enormously. Parasite is a better overall story and has better execution.
The Publicist: I have two additional films to see in this category. Right now, Parasite is at the top of my ballot, but I won’t vote unless I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen Honeyland, Parasite, and Corpus Christi. All three are extraordinary and I enjoyed each of them, but right now I’m such a huge Parasite.
Glen Wilson / Focus Features
Best Original Song
The Male Director: Without a doubt, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, because I thought Taron Egerton deserved the acting nomination. I’m a fan of Elton, and I loved Rocketman. I was so surprised that I loved it because I hated Bohemian Rhapsody. For me, it’s not what it adds to the film, I’m voting for the whole music of the film. Maybe it’s not the best song out of the five, but it’s getting my vote because I feel that Rocketman should’ve been recognized a bit more.
The Female Director: Diane Warren, for God’s sake. Let’s just give it to her and break this streak!
The Actor: I’m going for Harriet. It reminded me of the song from Selma, “Glory,” it had that same ache. Cynthia has real soul and it touched me. It’s extraordinary that it’s taken so long [for Harriet’s story] to come to the movies. The song captures a mood and a feeling of freedom, strength, and defiance.
The Actress: Diane Warren is my friend. She’s had 11 nominations, so I’d like to see her win. She’s such a humble person. She could be easily full of herself with all of those nominations, but she’s the real deal.
The Producer: It’s the David and Goliath category. You have a 23-year-old grad student, Joshuah Brian Campbell, and Cynthia Erivo, up against the biggest names in songwriting. It’s a great song. It’s an anthem and I’m standing by it. You don’t think of a Harriet Tubman movie as having organic music, but it was a method of communication in slavery, and [this is] a song has the same flavor as the organic music of the times.
The Writer: Rocketman. I didn’t love this category this year. I don’t know if I ever love this category. As a song goes, it’s the most successful and obviously very beautiful for what it is. I don’t love anything in the category, but I feel like this is the least [offensive]. The song from Toy Story 4 has personality, but we’ve seen Randy Newman do this before, and the others feel very processed. Part of me wants to vote for Cynthia because it’s remarkable that she does such a beautiful job with the song and in the movie as well, so if she wins, I won’t be surprised, but I didn’t love the song.
The Composer: “Stand Up” from Harriet. It’s a song rooted as a traditional anthem, but at the same time it sounds very modern. One of the greatest things about it is, besides having a great melody and lyrics, it’s beautifully clear, it’s not overproduced, it sounds amazing. It’s uncompressed and enjoyable and the orchestration underneath is incredibly sophisticated.
The Publicist: I saw Harriet and Rocketman, I haven’t seen the other three films, so I can’t choose yet. If I had to choose between the two that I have seen, I think Harriet would have my vote. I felt like this song just hit all of the right notes.