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Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot: ‘Irishman’ “Was Boring,” Tarantino “Amazing,” “I Want an United States of America Director in conformity with Win”

As voting ends, a female member of the Academy’s actors branch, granted anonymity to speak freely, shares which films earn her precious vote (and — gulp — why).

Illustration by: Nishant Choksi

Throughout awards season, The Hollywood Reporter checks in with select members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their insights are valuable not so much because they are representative of the overall Academy — one would have to speak with hundreds to get a scientifically significant sample of the 8,469-member voting body — but because they offer a sense of the sorts of things Academy members are thinking about. Here, an actress weighs in.

  • Best Picture


    Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures

    Little Women was badly acted and confusing, and I have no idea why they cast four British actresses to play American girls. [Emma Watson and Florence Pugh are British, but Saoirse Ronan is Irish-American, and Eliza Scanlen is Australian.] And every time they said they were poor, I gagged — they’re living in a beautiful two-story house, and they have a cook. Jojo Rabbit was cute, but I found myself unable to laugh about Hitler — I don’t think that’s funny. Marriage Story was phony: You don’t have an off-Broadway director and an off-Broadway actress living in a nice house with no day job — if an off-Broadway actor makes $150 a week, that’s a lot. If someone besides Martin Scorsese had directed The Irishman, it wouldn’t have all the accolades; it does because of his years in the business. It was too long and too repetitive, and the reverse-aging did not work — they erased the lines in their faces, but they still walked like old men. [Francis Ford] Coppola got it right in The Godfather when he had different actors play the characters when they were young and when they were old. Besides, I didn’t care about any of the people in the movie. I really liked Ford v Ferrari — I loved the two actors and the moral of the story — and I wish they had promoted it more; it’s worthy of more attention than it has gotten. Parasite is beautifully done, but it didn’t hold up the second time, and I don’t think foreign films should be nominated with the regular films. I liked Joker more than I thought I would; I put off seeing it for a long time, but it was actually a beautifully done film about mental illness, and I thought about it for a long time afterward, which is always a good sign. I loved 1917, but Quentin Tarantino’s film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was even better the second time than the first. I was in L.A. in the ’60s, and I thought he captured that era perfectly. 1917 was a very good but pretty straight-on story about the horrors of war; Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was more complicated and stayed with me longer.

    MY VOTE (1) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; (2) 1917; (3) Joker; (4) Parasite; (5) Ford v Ferrari; (6) The Irishman; (7) Marriage Story; (8) Jojo Rabbit; (9) Little Women

  • Best Director


    Andrew Cooper

    I can’t vote for Marty [Scorsese, of The Irishman] — nobody wants to say it, but it’s just not that good. Todd Phillips did an incredible job on Joker, as did Bong Joon Ho on Parasite, but not the best. I liked 1917 and Sam Mendes’ direction, but I thought Quentin did a great job, and I want an American director to win. The Oscars is an American thing; English things win BAFTAs and the French vote for the French, and Quentin Tarantino should be honored for a great American movie.

    MY VOTE Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  • Best Actor


    Warner Bros. Pictures

    I wasn’t particularly impressed by [Marriage Story‘s] Adam Driver. [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s] Leonardo DiCaprio has won already. I loved [The Two Popes‘] Jonathan Pryce, but I don’t know if I want to give it to the pope. So for me, it was between [Pain and Glory‘s] Antonio Banderas and [Joker‘s] Joaquin Phoenix, and I had to go with Joaquin because that is a performance that sticks in your mind. Antonio’s was much more subtle and poignant; Joaquin hit it out of the park.

    MY VOTE Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

    Best Actress


    Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Saoirse Ronan is wonderful, and I’ve liked her in so many things, but not [Little Women]. I can’t vote for [Marriage Story‘s] Scarlett Johansson for a story I thought was not truthful. I won’t vote for [Harriet‘s] Cynthia Erivo because I think that they should have gotten an American actress to play Harriet [Tubman], not an English actress. [Bombshell‘s] Charlize Theron did a good imitation [of Megyn Kelly], but I find the real Megyn irritating, so I found her irritating, too. Renée [Zellweger, of Judy] was just wonderful in the movie — her singing and everything, she’s just great.

    MY VOTE Renée Zellweger, Judy 

  • Best Supporting Actor


    Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

    I love Al Pacino [of The Irishman], but he wasn’t Jimmy Hoffa; he was himself. The real Jimmy Hoffa was a guy you were scared of because he kept it all inside of him; he never exploded like Al did. Marty should have curtailed him. [The Irishman‘s] Joe Pesci was good, but I don’t think that he did anything he hasn’t done before, just less of it. [A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘s] Tom Hanks is very good at imitating Mr. Rogers, but if you look in his eyes when he talks to the lead guy [Matthew Rhys], his eyes are not soft and loving; his eyes are calculating and judging. Mr. Rogers’ eyes were warm. I really noticed that. That leaves me with [The Two Popes‘] Anthony Hopkins, who was absolutely brilliant, and [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s] Brad Pitt. I’m going for Brad because he hasn’t won before, because I totally believed that he was this stunt guy and because of his scene at that ranch, where he has such presence that creates fear.

    MY VOTE Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood