This ballot reflects the Oscar votes — and candid rationales for them — of a male member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 867-person short films and feature animation branch, as communicated to THR in return for a guarantee of anonymity. THR neither endorses these views nor suggests that they are representative of anything other than this voter’s perspective.


A lot of the fanfare around Avatar: The Way of Water comes from the backstory — how long it took to make, etcetera — rather than the actual quality of the movie. Women Talking was not bad — the acting and directing were really good — but I didn’t love it. I enjoyed The Fabelmans — [Steven] Spielberg did his Spielberg thing and directed the hell out of it — but it was a little long. Triangle of Sadness was so funny and well-written, and I love its commentary about class — the best since Parasite. Cate [Blanchett] was absolutely incredible in Tár, but the movie takes too long to get to its point. Top Gun [Maverick] was a fantastic thrill-ride and it got people back into movie theaters and I’m glad it’s nominated — popularity is not a bad thing — but the story is pretty simple and straightforward, and I was weirded-out by the faceless enemy aspect of it. The Scientology thing [producer/star Tom Cruise’s affiliation with the church], on the other hand, doesn’t really bother me — punishing the movie is not going to make Tom Cruise leave Scientology. Austin [Butler] was so mind-blowing in Elvis that I watched it multiple times; the movie was fun, but it’s all about the performance. Banshees was so good, with a really funny and concise script. But for me, it’s a very close call between All Quiet on the Western Front and Everything Everywhere All at Once. They’re so different, but the execution of what they were trying to do is near perfect. All Quiet is one of the best anti-war movies ever made. It made me feel the dirtiness and grittiness and nastiness of war in a way that most movies don’t; it really put you in the fucking trenches. And Everything Everywhere is, to me, as a filmmaker, one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. For someone to make a movie with a nearly all-Asian cast and tell this crazy, mind-bending, time-jumping story? It makes me believe that it’s possible to not have an Avatar-sized budget and not be Baz Luhrmann or Steven Spielberg and still make something that’s personal and cultural and can still be thought of as a potential best picture Oscar winner.

VOTE: (1) Everything Everywhere All at Once (2) All Quiet on the Western Front (3) The Banshees of Inisherin (4) Elvis (5) Top Gun: Maverick (6) Tár (7) Triangle of Sadness (8) The Fabelmans (9) Women Talking (10) Avatar: The Way of Water


Tár [directed by Todd Field] is more about the performance than the directing and Banshees [directed by Martin McDonagh] is more about the writing than the directing. Ruben [Östlund] put a real stamp on Triangle. Steven did an amazing job with The Fabelmans, and it’s cool that it’s such a personal story. But what the Daniels [Everything Everywhere’s Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert] did across the board, with limited resources, was really remarkable.

VOTE: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once


Paul Mescal [of Aftersun] is out immediately — he’s a great actor, but I’m confused about all the excitement over that movie. Bill Nighy is so great in Living and Colin [Farrell] is so great in Banshees. After I saw The Whale, Brendan Fraser being my choice. And then I sat down and watched Elvis, and I was so blown away by Austin Butler’s performance that I watched Elvis again that same week. He’s the clear winner, to me. And if you’re going to give Rami Malek an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, when he wasn’t even singing, then you can’t not give it to Austin. This kid literally got a new voice!

VOTE: Austin Butler, Elvis


I would’ve definitely put Danielle Deadwyler [for Till] above Michelle Williams [for The Fabelmans] or Ana de Armas [for Blonde] — it felt like nobody cared about Blonde after it came out, so I was really surprised that she got nominated. I’d heard about Andrea Riseborough and To Leslie before the nominations, only because I kept seeing Academy members who were in that little camp posting about it on social media. That didn’t bother me at the time because it felt like it was going nowhere. Then when she got nominated, I thought about it some more. The performance is great — not the greatest of all time, as Kate Winslet lied to me, but great — but the way she was sort of muscled-in felt very mafia-ish, like the people with the power decided that this should happen, so it did. For me, it was really close between [Tár’s] Cate [Blanchett] and [Everything Everywhere All at Once’s] Michelle [Yeoh]. Cate gets lost in Lydia Tár — it’s such an incredible performance — but to see what Michelle, a woman who’s so overdue, did in her movie, with the action and the fighting and the emotion? I had to pick Michelle. Tie goes to the person who hasn’t won over the person who already has two.

VOTE: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once


I watched most of Causeway, but it was too slow, even though Brian Tyree [Henry] is incredible in everything. Judd Hirsch was great [in The Fabelmans], but that’s such a small part that I was surprised he even got nominated. I don’t know how to pick between the two Banshees guys [Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson] — Brendan had a larger role, but Barry was so funny and scene-stealing. Ke Huy Quan was just fantastic in Everything Everywhere and his story makes you hopeful and reminds you that it’s never really over in Hollywood unless you’re dead or Will Smith. There are few things that I want to see more than him standing up there with an Oscar.

VOTE: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once


Kerry [Condon of The Banshees of Inisherin] and Hong Chau [of The Whale] were fine. I think Jamie Lee Curtis could win for Everything Everywhere — she’s been a part of Hollywood since she was a child — even though Stephanie Hsu was better in the movie. But I’m hoping that the Academy stops treating Marvel movies like second-class citizens and recognizes that Angela’s [Bassett of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever] performance is great — she performed the fuck out of that role — and that, considering her body of work too, she’s long overdue.

VOTE: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


The Top Gun script was probably the weakest. Women Talking’s script was strong. Living’s was great. I loved All Quiet and it’s hard to not acknowledge it here. But I had to pick Glass Onion [A Knives Out Mystery] because the movie was so much fun and this is the only place I can recognize it. They sent us the actual script and I looked it over and it’s a tight, great read. I want to live in a world where Glass Onion can win an Oscar. Rian Johnson is great — give Rian Johnson an Oscar!

VOTE: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


The Fabelmans script was fine. I really liked the Banshees, Tár and Triangle of Sadness scripts. But this one is Everything Everywhere by a mile. I couldn’t have come up with that concept in a million years. The term is “original screenplay,” and if you can’t call Everything Everywhere the most original of this group, then nothing means anything.

VOTE: Everything Everywhere All at Once


I didn’t see The Sea Beast or Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. I liked Turning Red. If Guillermo del Toro hadn’t made Pinocchio this year, Puss in Boots would’ve deserved to win — it’s so good — but he did. I love Guillermo, and I loved the animation and the way he told the story.

VOTE: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


I was sad to not see Retrograde in there — if dodging bullets in Afghanistan at the end of the war there can’t get you an Oscar nomination, then I don’t know anymore. I haven’t seen A House Made of Splinters. All That Breathes was so boring that I’m floored that that’s what the documentary community went for; someone needs to explain that to me. Fire of Love was a well done archival doc, and it’s awesome on the big screen, but it sagged in the middle. I love the message of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and Nan Goldin presented her story in a beautiful way. But Navalny was fantastic — I wasn’t aware that [subject Alexei] Navalny had busted the people who’d poisoned him, so when I saw that in the movie I was like, “Holy shit.” And it’s a good time to say “fuck you” to Putin.

VOTE: Navalny


EO [Poland] was a bit boring — I don’t really get why people like that movie, and I’d have preferred if they’d nominated Blanquita [Chile] or The Blue Caftan [Morocco] or Corsage [Austria] or Decision to Leave [South Korea]. The Quiet Girl [Ireland] and Argentina, 1985 [Argentina] were good. Close [Belgium] was my pick — it’s beautiful and so well done — until I watched All Quiet [Germany]. That’s just a different level of filmmaking.

VOTE: All Quiet on the Western Front


[Empire of Light’s Roger] Deakins is God, but Empire of Light — and Bardo — should not have been nominated over Top Gun; it’s a crime that Claudio Miranda isn’t here. Tár was solid. All Quiet was impressive. But Mandy [Walker] deserves it for Elvis — she fucking crushed it, and how many times have we had a chance to give a woman an Oscar for cinematography? She earned it.

VOTE: Elvis


I hadn’t even heard of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris until, like, yesterday. Everything Everywhere’s costumes weren’t that special. Babylon’s were good. But I’m torn between Elvis and Wakanda Forever. Elvis’s costumes are great, but they’re recreations. The costumes in Wakanda are so inventive and intricate — I mean, look at those hats! I think Ruth [E. Carter] deserves another.

VOTE: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


I don’t get how Banshees is here over All Quiet. Tár could have used more editing. Elvis was almost like editing a concert. Top Gun was an incredible editing job — the degree of difficulty editing fighter-jet sequences, versus Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell talking in a bar [in Banshees], can’t even be compared. But God bless the editor of Everything Everywhere, who had to help us keep track of the multiverse and fight sequences and all sorts of stuff. That movie relied so heavily on good editing.

VOTE: Everything Everywhere All at Once


Is a fat suit [in The Whale or The Batman] considered makeup? I don’t know. All Quiet’s makeup was good with the caked, muddy faces. But Wakanda Forever and Elvis were the strongest options. Elvis made Austin look like Elvis. But Wakanda Forever had to come up with its makeup and hairstyling from scratch.

VOTE: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


I remember more of Babylon’s score than any of the others — it’s pretty present throughout the whole movie.

VOTE: Babylon


No question that it’s “Naatu Naatu” [from R.R.R.] It’s central to the story of the movie, and it’s so addictive and fun. You can’t not love “Naatu Naatu” — I mean, have you seen the videos of people dancing in theaters? That’s not happening with any of the other songs.

VOTE: “Naatu Naatu,” R.R.R.


With Avatar, I don’t know what’s real and what’s animation. The Fabelmans was nothing special. Babylon, All Quiet and Elvis had amazing production design, but I didn’t really like Babylon, so it was between the other two for me. With All Quiet, the way they designed those war fields and offices and even the train, I thought they did a fantastic job. But Elvis just brought to life a period that I’ve seen in photos and footage in a way that was so well-matched.

VOTE: Elvis


All of these have great sound design. Top Gun was solid. The Batman, which was really immersive, especially with that car chase scene. But All Quiet, with the war stuff, stand out to me.

VOTE: All Quiet on the Western Front


It’s so obviously Avatar. Even if you don’t like the movie, you have to acknowledge that level of achievement. No contest.

VOTE: Avatar: The Way of Water


I watched them all. An Ostrich Told Me [An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It] was brilliant, but I’m voting for The Boy, the Fox, the Chicken Hound and the Dog Scratching the Mole — I can never remember the name [The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse]. I guess I like long titles.

VOTE: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse


I was kind of amazed at how underwhelming these nominees were. I watched all of them, and they were just bland and boring.

VOTE: Abstain.


Ivalu and Le Pupille were boring. Night Ride was interesting. And An Irish Goodbye and The Red Suitcase both impressed me. An Irish Goodbye is beautiful — well directed — and could definitely become a feature. But for an 18-minute movie, the tension in The Red Suitcase is just so well executed.

VOTE: The Red Suitcase

An abbreviated version of this story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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