In best Canuck tradition, our two anonymous Canadian Oscar voters politely agree to strongly disagree about the films most likely to win Best Picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Voter No. 1, a male member of the producers’ branch of the U.S. film academy, loves Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody. Voter No. 2, a female member of the academy’s directors’ branch, gives thumbs down to those two movies; she adores Roma and The Favourite.
The two voters are of like minds about refried Hollywood romancer A Star Is Born: it sucks.
Which just goes to show you what a topsy-turvy awards season it has been. A Star Is Born closed out 2018 as the perceived front-runner for Best Picture. Now it’s near the bottom of most polls, but more recent star Roma is anything but a sure thing.
Our anonymous Canadian voters, interviewed separately, didn’t let their Best Picture picks or pans stop them from saluting directors and talents in other movies, even films they didn’t like.
They agreed to open their ballots and boldly state their reasons for their choices for the top eight Oscar categories.
Anonymous Canadian Oscar Voter No. 1
Best Picture: Green Book
“I just really, really liked the story. I had never heard of that pianist (Don Shirley). And I think it’s about time somebody did something about the Green Book, and told the story about what not only Black musicians but also Black athletes had to go through in recent history. I think Green Book is the perfect Oscar film.”
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
“I just think Cuarón is an amazing director. That’s why I voted for him, despite what I think about Roma. It was well directed and he was using actors who didn’t have a lot of experience, if any. I definitely think he’s going to win.
“I also think Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) could get it. He’s been out in the wilderness a bit too long and this could bring him right back.”
Best Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
“I voted for her because I thought she did a tremendous job. I’ve always admired her as an actress, even in supporting type roles like she had in The Night Manager. I think it’s about time that people recognize her.
“Glenn Close (The Wife) will probably win, though, and she would have been my second choice. She was great in The Wife. I worked with her once and realized she’s a really terrific actress.”
Best Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
“I just thought it was a tremendous transformation, with him playing Freddie Mercury: physical, emotional, all of those things that go into creating a great performance. He was amazing.
“Christian Bale (Vice) also did a great job, but I just don’t think he was as good as some of the competition. As for Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), I simply didn’t believe him.”
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
“I thought her performance was tremendously emotional and evocative. I was really surprised that Stephan James wasn’t also nominated for an Oscar.
“I thought Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were great in The Favourite, but the film is really an ensemble piece to me. Amy Adams (Vice) had kind of a thankless job, playing Dick Cheney’s wife. And since I didn’t get Roma, I really didn’t get Marina de Tavira in it.”
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
“He was terrific in Green Book and really should have been in the lead actor category. That’s why I’m voting for him here.
“Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) was also terrific. He would have been my second choice. But I had a tough time believing in Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman and I like Adam Driver. ”
Best Original Screenplay: Green Book
“I thought it was a terrific story and just delivered on all cylinders.
“I don’t think Roma even had a screenplay; Cuarón just made it up as he went along. The Favourite was a great story, but the original true story could have been even better. I just didn’t feel Vice. And although I loved the screenplay for First Reformed, I was really put off by the ending. I think that’s one of the reasons why the picture didn’t break out.”
Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
“I wanted to give it something and I think it could carry this category. There’s tough, tough competition in this category.
“If Beale Street Could Talk was my second choice. I just thought the James Baldwin novel was faithfully adapted and brought to life. I love the Coen Bros., but The Ballad of Buster Scruggs kind of lost me along the way. Can You Ever Forgive Me? just didn’t make it for me. And I just really didn’t like A Star Is Born.”
Anonymous Canadian Oscar Voter No. 2:
Best Picture: The Favourite
“I voted for it because it was so refreshing. I just loved it. It was so right on and it reflected the world and how tragic, bizarre, brilliant and human it is. I loved the intensity of it, the performances, the way it was shot, the way it was directed. I thought the three women were fantastic and I thought Olivia was just brilliant. If either this film or Roma wins, I’ll be thrilled.”
Best Director: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
“I thought the film was innovative and it had chutzpah and it was really well directed. I could feel that Spike really was loving what he was doing. It was a film that was totally in sync. And when a film is in sync, I think you have to say, hats off to the director.
“I also loved what Yorgos Lanthimos did with The Favourite, but I thought it was time Spike Lee got something, although Cuarón will likely win for Roma and Cuarón is brilliant..”
Best Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
“She was so tragic! That was an amazing performance. Olivia was brilliant.
“But definitely not Glenn Close for The Wife! I just hated that film. It was so bad, so absurd. I didn’t believe it for a second.”
Best Actor: Christian Bale, Vice
“He wasn’t just very good, he was excellent.
“Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) just didn’t ring a bell for me. And Rami Malek did a fabulous imitation of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, but I didn’t feel that he performed him. He didn’t get through to Freddie’s soul.”
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
“I think Emma Stone had the easier role in The Favourite. Rachel Weisz really had a character arc. She was amazing how she could turn from this controlling f-king bitch into somebody vulnerable. She was fabulous. What a controlled performance.
“I also thought Regina King was superb in If Beale Street Could Talk. Another amazing, controlled performance. I think it’s between Rachel Weisz and her for the Oscar.”
Best Supporting Actor: Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
“Omigod, Adam Driver! What a complicated role and he was superb in it. There he was, a Jewish guy being the surrogate for a Black guy. It was just brilliant.
“Sam Rockwell (Vice) was also very good. I was torn between him and Adam Driver. I thought Sam Elliott was very good in A Star Is Born, but I wasn’t crazy about the film, so everything just fell apart. Richard E. Grant’s performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? felt like a caricature. And although I like Mahershala Ali, let’s not talk about Green Book.”
Best Original Screenplay: The Favourite
“I love how original the movie was. I loved how sparse it was. I loved the way that it broke so many conventions and it just worked for the characters and that it had such strong women in it.
“First Reformed would have been my second choice. Isn’t it sad that Ethan Hawke wasn’t nominated for Best Actor? I feel I already know the story of Roma, so it didn’t feel original to me. The screenplay for Vice felt fractured, like it didn’t know if it was a drama or a documentary. And let’s not go there with Green Book.”
Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
“I just loved BlacKkKlansman, I really did. I also loved The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I didn’t vote for it. Can You Ever Forgive Me? just became belaboured — I got it! Three-quarters of the way through, it should have finished. If Beale Street Could Talk felt like it could have been a wonderful play. It was very theatrical and just gorgeous to look at.
“And am I only person the world who finds A Star Is Born a bit of a bore? I didn’t hate it, but I just thought it was OK. It was trying too hard to find the right balance between critical success and commercial success, and so it was just neither.”
Peter Howell is the Star’s movie critic based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @peterhowellfilm