When it comes to bad opinions presented boldly, it’s hard to beat The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Brutally Honest Oscars Ballot feature. There’s a kind of evil genius in asking the actual people voting on the actual Academy Awards to weigh in anonymously on their ballots every year, revealing just how petty and arbitrary some of the decisions that affect beloved films can be. (If you’ve ever wanted to disabuse yourself of the notion that Oscars have any “real” artistic merit, reading lines like “I want an American director to win. The Oscars is an American thing; English things win BAFTAs and the French vote for the French” should hurry the process along nicely.) This year’s crop are, as usual, a doozy; if nothing else, they’re instructive in how some of the Academy’s more baffling decisions manage to happen year to year.
Among other things, both of the voters polled found Greta Gerwig’s Little Women far too confusing, employing as it does two whole different timelines for viewers to keep track of. Neither liked Marriage Story or The Irishman, either, with one of the voters comparing the latter unfavorably to Casino—“Listen, I’ve seen Casino, in its entirety, start to finish, 20 times,” he notes, ensuring we all know how schooled he is in Scorsese lore. Both were super impressed with Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, possibly because, as context clues suggest, both of the anonymous voters may have been around in Hollywood since the 1960s at least. (Which makes one’s assertion that he’s voting for Margot Robbie, for Bombshell, at least in part because “I have a crush on her” an extra-fun sentiment to contemplate.)
In other words, it is, as it is every year, a thoroughly dispiriting read—albeit one that’s also useful for getting into the Oscar voters’ head. It won’t necessarily give you the edge in your Oscar pool, given that neither of the voters polled last year pegged Green Book for the win. But if you want to understand why Renée Zellweger is probably going to end up taking home Best Actress this year— “She’s worked really hard, she’s not a quitter, and she’s had a lot of fucking haters after her ass”—it’s definitely worth a look.