The Hollywood Reporter is running a great series right now called "Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots" in which a real life Academy voter is granted anonymity in exchange for full candor in evaluating this year's nominations. The pieces are good if you would like to know what films might win awards this year, but even better if you would like multiple examples showing why Academy voters are fucking crazy.
Let's start with the race stuff, first, because the two voters are very, um, passionate about the subject, and it's also its own special brand of crazy. Here's Anonymous Voter 1—described only as a woman working in public relations—on Selma:
What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there's no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don't think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they're not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn't that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I've got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying "I can't breathe" [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?
This is the first thing she says in the interview.
Here's Anonymous Voter 2 (a man who works in short film and animation):
I didn't think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor [David Oyelowo], and I think the outcry about the Academy being racists for not nominating it for more awards is offensive — we have a two-term president who is a black woman [Cheryl Boone Isaacs] and we give out awards to black people when they deserve them, just like any other group
In these two passages, you may recognize several strands of very familiar racism: a (presumably) white person loudly proclaiming that they don't see race, a plea for black people to not be so uppity and, naturally, "we have a black friend." The tonal implication that the white people who vote for the movie awards are the truly prosecuted in this equation is, of course, crazy, but it's a sad, wheezing sort of crazy.
The rest of each interview is a more hilarious sort of crazy. For instance, Anonymous Voter 2 had an extremely negative reaction to Whiplash that allowed him to imagine himself as the brave hero of his own life:
Whiplash is offensive — it's a film about abuse and I don't find that entertaining at all. My kid would have told me if he had an abusive teacher. I would have sat in on the class, talked to other kids in the class and then said, "This asshole has to go."
This guy sounds like a real cool dad, arranging meetings with his son's classmates so that he can snitch on his behalf. A regular Liam Neeson out there.
Anonymous Voter 2 also thought Boyhood was lame, except when he didn't. Here he is on whether he would vote the film for Best Picture:
I admired Boyhood and it didn't bore me, but it doesn't totally work.
But when it comes to Best Director he said:
What he [Boyhood's Richard Linklater] did is amazing.
Okay! The director did an amazing thing that... didn't work. The film was so disjointed that Ethan Hawke's performance was worthy of Best Supporting Actor:
The one who stood out to me was [Boyhood's] Ethan Hawke — to sustain a performance over a decade is no easy thing.
Basically, this guy is really impressed by the act of making a movie over the span of 12 years, even if that movie wasn't actually that good, and also even if he felt like Richard Linklater spent over a decade pulling a story out of his ass.
Boyhood was a very good film but I feel like they came up with the story as they went along.
The internal logic throughout both interviews is consistently nonexistent. Anonymous Voter 2 seems to be basing his votes on small events that happened in his own life. For instance, he's supporting Eddie Redmayne—well, he doesn't appear to his name, but whatever—because he was introduced to Stephen Hawking once:
I've met Stephen Hawking and this guy [The Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne] got him just right.
He also bought Steve Carrell's performance in Foxcatcher because he went to school with the family of the wrestling coach he portrayed:
Steve Carell was interesting — I went to school with some of the du Ponts and I believe it [the film's story] — but the movie wasn't great.
Unfortunately for Bradley Cooper, Anonymous Voter 2 never clinked glasses with the real American Sniper. Better luck next year, though—try to land a role in a biopic about an old guy.
Anonymous Voter 1 seems to care mostly about how each film relates to film industry bullshit. Here's possibly the whitest thing you could say about movies in 2015:
American Sniper is the winner of the year, whether or not it gets a single statuette, because for all of us in the movie industry — I don't care what your politics are — it is literally the answer to a prayer for a midrange budget movie directed by an 84-year-old guy [Clint Eastwood] to do this kind of business. It shows that a movie can galvanize America and shows that people will go if you put something out that they want to see.
If you were to accidentally barge in on Rudy Giuliani jacking off you would hear him softly muttering "American Sniper is the winner of the year" under his breath.
She's casting her Best Actor vote for Michael Keaton for reasons that seem to have nothing to do with Birdman:
I'm voting for [Birdman's] Michael Keaton because I love him and for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is he seems like a completely sane person who lives in the middle of the country and works when he wants to work. I've loved every interview that he's done.
For Best Picture she's voting for The Imitation Game, but mostly seems concerned with whether or not people in Hollywood are trying to fuck Harvey Weinstein:
On paper, The Imitation Game seemed to be the one to me. It's a great story, well-crafted, [Benedict Cumberbatch] is really good and it's been a big success. It's what you call "prestige filmmaking." So why isn't it receiving more recognition? I'd like to believe it's karma for Harvey [Weinstein].
If there was one shining light in either of these interviews it was this quote from Anonymous Voter 1:
I'm not sorry that Jennifer Aniston isn't nominated; she was fine
The Oscars voting process is fine!