THRs Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot: Licorice Pizza is racist, CODA is amazing

The Hollywood Reporter’s Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot series is one of my favorite trade-paper series ever. THR sits down with Academy members as they fill out their ballots and explain their choices. Names of the Academy members are not used, but THR will say what branch the voter is in. The Oscar Ballot #2 is getting a lot of attention, so let’s discuss. This comes from a man in the animation branch of the Academy. He hates Licorice Pizza and The Power of the Dog!

He loved The Worst Person in the World: “The movie that I would have loved to have put in the No. 1 spot sadly didn’t even get nominated, which was The Worst Person in the World. That’s one of the most amazing movies of the last five years.”

Hated Licorice Pizza: “But moving on, I hated Licorice Pizza. It was probably the best directed interpretation of a bad script that I’ve seen in years. I just can’t believe that in 2022 we’re still rewarding blatant, unnecessarily racist movies, and that people just brush over the stuff with the accent — it didn’t add anything to the movie and no one in the movie commented on it. The excuse that “that was of the time” is bullsh-t.

What?? “The Power of the Dog was just too slow and boring — I genuinely don’t understand why this movie is so amazing to people. It’s also not a storyline that we haven’t seen a million times before — the repressed angry gay cowboy who is hurtful to everyone else because he can’t deal with his own feelings — and the ending was a little confusing.

He loves CODA: “CODA, which I was rooting for long before it looked like it could realistically happen. It’s beautiful for so many reasons, and it actually made me cry, and that was something I couldn’t ignore. I thought it was particularly beautiful in its representation of deaf storytelling, and I think the only way to encourage the making of more movies about marginalized people is to recognize them when they are as good as this one.

His Best Picture vote: (1) CODA, (2) Drive My Car, (3) Belfast, (4) Don’t Look Up, (5) Dune, (6) King Richard, (7) West Side Story, (8) Nightmare Alley, (9) The Power of the Dog, (10) Licorice Pizza

He voted for Steven Spielberg for Best Director: “Licorice Pizza was very well directed — Paul Thomas Anderson is brilliant — but I cannot reward that film for anything. Jane [Campion] did a beautiful job directing The Power of the Dog — like with Licorice Pizza, I can separate my overall feelings about the movie and acknowledge that the direction was impressive. [Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s] Drive My Car was a beautiful slow-burn. For me, [Kenneth Branagh’s] Belfast was a close runner-up. But, while I think the story of West Side Story is silly, the presentation and direction were incredible. I very specifically remember being captivated by how Steven [Spielberg] moved the camera in it.

[From THR]

The rest of his votes seemed pretty reasonable – he voted for Will Smith for Best Actor, Penelope Cruz for Actress, Troy Kotsur for Supporting Actor and Aunjanue Ellis for Supporting Actress. While I think Jessica Chastain is the leading candidate for Actress, I do think that category might see a surprise. I think the same about Supporting Actress – while it feels like Ariana DeBose has it wrapped up, I would not be “surprised” if Aunjanue Ellis won.

As for what this guy says about Best Picture… I agree with him completely about Licorice Pizza and how it shouldn’t be rewarded for having a sh-tty script and those racist scenes. But I’m bewildered by his criticism of The Power of the Dog? Like, I think Dog’s Oscar chances were hurt by Jane Campion’s mess at the Critics Choice Awards two weeks ago, but I think the movie itself is good and something we rarely see. This is so weird: “It’s also not a storyline that we haven’t seen a million times before — the repressed angry gay cowboy who is hurtful to everyone else because he can’t deal with his own feelings…” How many films about angry repressed gay cowboys are there??

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, IMDB, Netflix.

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