Oscars 2013: What My Nominations Ballot Would Look Like

Every year, leading up to Oscar nominations, I write three articles. The third one is an analysis of the actual nominations, who got left off, who snuck on, what looks like the favorite, whether the decisions were good or not — that sort of thing. That happens on the day of the nominations. The other two articles I write, leading up to nominations, are a juxtaposition of the objective and subjective. I separate the two so as not to cloud the issue.

The first article is a completely subjective list of what I’d nominate if given the chance. It’s what, in a perfect world, I’d like to see on the Oscar nominations list. Just me. Not you. This is my opinion, and nothing more. And the second is a completely objective list of what I believe is going to be nominated when the nominations are announced, based on precursors, instinct, and just having done it for so long. My opinion isn’t really involved in any way, unless it’s a tossup between two choices that seem equally likely, and I end up going with my personal choice just so I won’t kick myself if I guess the other one and my choice gets on.

But that’s what I do — first subjective, then objective, then nominations. That’s what these next three days are going to be about. Today is that first day — the subjective.

So here is what my Oscar nominations ballot would look like (were I to have one):

It’s not gonna be specific to a nominations ballot, since the nominations work differently than how the actual nominations end up. I’m just talking, based on the 24 categories, and the five nominees in most of them (except Picture, Song, Makeup and Hairstyling), these are what I’d like those categories to look like. Mostly it’s self-explanatory, but in those few categories, it gets a bit confusing. But I’ll explain.

We’ll start from Best Picture and work down.

So… the way Picture voting works is, people nominate five movies and rank them. So, if we’re basing it solely on that process, here’s how I’d rank the five if given an actual ballot:

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis
  2. Gravity
  3. Prisoners
  4. All Is Lost
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street

Normally, I’d put Prisoners number one, to try to get that on, since a film needs a minimum of 5% #1 votes in order to even think about being nominated for Best Picture. But, since Inside Llewyn Davis isn’t a sure thing at the moment (though maybe it is, but I can’t be too careful), I’m putting that as my number one. And Gravity can be #2, since if Prisoners isn’t #1 it doesn’t matter where I put it. And I don’t think it would really get on even if I did put it #1.

Basically these are five of my top seven movies. (Frozen is not making a Best Picture list.)

Now… if we’re really getting down to the point of this exercise, it’s really — given the number of Best Picture nominees there are going to be, what would be my list. So I’m gonna provide that as well.

The way I’m going to do it, since there can be anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees — is list ten films that I’d put on a Best Picture list. 1-5 will just be alphabetical. And 6-10 will be ranked. And wherever the Best Picture list ends (it’s been ending at 9 the past two years with this new voting system), that’s where my list ends.

My Best Picture Nominees

All Is Lost


Inside Llewyn Davis


The Wolf of Wall Street

6. Her

7. American Hustle

8. Captain Phillips

9. 12 Years a Slave

10. About Time

Essentially my top 12, leaving off The Wind Rises and Frozen, since, while I do love them, I really don’t feel like either deserves a Best Picture nomination. Animated Feature is more than enough. I don’t think they transcend that category enough to warrant nomination.

But… that’s my list. Honestly, I’m probably gonna be 7 of 9 the same as their list. You know 12 Years, Gravity, American Hustle and Captain Phillips are on. You assume Wolf of Wall Street and Her are on, and Inside Llewyn Davis seems like it has a pretty good shot at this point, right? So that’s pretty good. I like when my opinions are mostly the same as theirs.

And if this were my list and I were casting a vote, I’d probably vote for Gravity. But honestly, I don’t even care. I love all of these movies. Let any of them win.

– – – – –

My Best Actor Nominees

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners

Hugh Jackman, Prisoners

Oscaar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Christian Bale also barely misses here, for Out of the Furnace, out of my obscene love of Prisoners. Also, sorry to Chiwetel Ejiofor as well. And Matthew McConaughey. I just really liked Prisoners. Otherwise — DiCaprio’s slapstick level performance in Wolf of Wall Street is incredible. I can’t ignore that. Redford is self-explanatory, and Oscar Isaac is gonna be the biggest snub of the year if he gets left off the Best Actor list (and he probably will be).

I can’t be sure my list will match theirs at all. Maybe I get Redford on, maybe not. Otherwise, this one seems almost totally my list.

And if this were the actual list and it were time to vote a winner, I’d vote Hugh Jackman.

– – – – –

My Best Actress Nominees

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Brie Larson, Short Term 12

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Yes, I consider them both leads. Apparently Julia is being part of a category fraud this year to get on. Which I’m okay with, since she does deserve it. But she’s clearly also a lead here. So she’s on my list as lead. Fuck that. If I had a ballot, I’d put her Supporting, to not fuck that up, but here — she’s lead.

I didn’t really have a fifth nominee here. I liked Brie Larson, but I wouldn’t necessarily have put her here in any other year but this. It was pretty much between her, Emma Thompson — who was intriguing, as it’s rare for a movie to feature that much of a raging cunt as its lead. And also be a Disney movie — and Shailene Woodley, who I love, but couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for her. So I put Larson. At least the film will get some love and some more views that way.

Otherwise, Dench and Bullock are clearly your two best in the category, and if it came down to a vote, I’d vote Judi.

– – – – –

My Best Supporting Actor Nominees

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

John Goodman, Inside Llewyn Davis

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Also loved Woody Harrelson in Out of the Furnace (and Casey Affleck), and Michael Fassbender was fine in 12 Years. Ultimately I opted for John Goodman in the fifth spot, because the dude has never been nominated (not even for Barton Fink, which he should have won for). I’ll take a glorified cameo over some of the more showy alternatives from this year.

Otherwise — I feel kind of bad about Abdi, since he’s basically a non-actor. But hey, man, he was believable, and the Supporting categories have a long history of stuff like this. So I have no issue with it. (Plus… again… weak fucking year for standout roles.)

Jonah Hill, to me, was so outstandingly good he ought to probably win the category. Cooper, I thought, was really great in American Hustle, and I’m throwing a shout out to his work in Place Beyond the Pines as well. Between those two, I think he’s earned this. And Leto was, admittedly, really good in Dallas Buyers Club.

If I had to vote a winner, I’d probably take Jonah Hill at this point.

Otherwise — it was real difficult coming up with this.

It’s only getting worse though, since this next category is always historically difficult.

– – – – –

My Best Supporting Actress Nominees

Amy Adams, Her

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis

Zoe Saldana, Out of the Furnace

June Squibb, Nebraska

Everyone’s talking about Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Her — what about Amy Adams’? She’s really nice and low key in this. And they have a history of nominating her for small roles in movies. Did you see The Master? Sure, she doesn’t give anyone a hand job in this (might be a requisite for her from now on), but I really like how low key and honest the performance was, and, in a weak ass year like this, I’d put her here. Plus, American Hustle was a lead, and you can double up on that as well and justify it with that. It’s not like the Academy hasn’t done that millions of times — nominate someone Supporting for a smaller role despite the much better role they weren’t nominated for. And the bitter people can be like, “Oh, they nominated her because they couldn’t nominate Scarlett Johansson because it was a voice performance.” Everybody wins.

Carey Mulligan, we’re all aware I love her, and will look to nominate her any chance I get. (Because I’d have also nominated her for Shame in 2011, along with Fassbender.) But honestly, how many supporting performances do we really remember after seeing the movies? None of them really stick with you. This one stuck with me. I remember all her acerbic scenes at the beginning, and then all her quiet, nuanced facial acting at the end. And, she sings. It’s actually a pretty big performance, and is more than enough to get nominated in this category (which features a nominee with only two an a half minutes of screen time in its history).

Jennifer Lawrence — because why not? I didn’t really have anyone else, and at least she’s memorable. She’ll make the category look good. I almost went Margo Martindale for August: Osage County instead, but — Jennifer Lawrence being all crazy, and that dress, with the boobs and all — what are you gonna do?

And given how weak this category was, and how lax the actual requirements are for being nominated — I’m voting for Zoe Saldana. Because fuck it. To me, that scene with her and Christian Bale after he gets out of prison is the best single scene (acting-wise, and maybe just in general) of 2013. I don’t think I need much more than that. I can’t remember how much more of that movie she’s even in (it’s probably only like five minutes of screen time), but honestly, I might prefer that on my ballot to just going with an obvious choice, like Lupita Nyong’o, who I didn’t really think had enough screen time to do much of anything. Her one real memorable scene is her saying she wanted to get soap because she make herself “gag.” I know everyone will disagree with me (because that’s what happens with films like that during this time of the year), but I think the performance is being overrated. I’m cool with her being nominated — just not on my ballot.

Plus, also — my list doesn’t include Julia, which, due to category fraud, she’s technically gonna be here come nominations.

Oh, and June Squibb is awesome. That’s all.

Voting-wise… if this was my category… and no Julia Roberts… I’d probably take Carey Mulligan. Since I don’t feel like Jennifer Lawrence needs to win, and Squibb felt more like a one-trick pony, without the soft element to the character to really add the extra dimension to the performance. So I’ll take Mulligan. Why not? She’s already been snubbed for an Oscar anyhow.

– – – – –

My Best Director Nominees

Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Spike Jonze, Her

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Denis Villenueve, Prisoners

Is that surprising to anybody at all? It’s my #1, #3, #6, #7 and #8 films off my top ten list. Frozen sure as hell wasn’t going on here, and American Hustle — I’m not overly crazy about the direction there. I’m sure I’ll warm up to it over time, but it felt a little… it felt like it was a bit too frenetic for its own good at times. And All Is Lost — a bit too many fades and ambiguous camera movements for me. I don’t know, I just wouldn’t nominate it over these five.

Cuaron, I think we all know. He should win this. And the Coens — obviously. The film is fucking incredible. Scorsese — people are really gonna warm to this movie over time, and honestly, why shouldn’t he get another nomination, after all those years of being snubbed? Man didn’t get nominated for Taxi Driver, for christ’s sake. Give him this. It’s not even a stretch. Prisoners — obviously. And Her — I really thought Jonze was wonderfully subtle and delicate with the film, and I think that kind of quiet direction sometimes should make it on over the showier (American Hustle, Captain Phillips) and classier (12 Years a Slave) contenders.

Cuaron wins this. Come on, now. I’d have voted for him for Children of Men. The only reason I wouldn’t have, if he were nominated, is because of how badly they’d fucked over Scorsese to that point.

– – – – –

My Best Original Screenplay Nominees

About Time

American Hustle


Inside Llewyn Davis


 Basically all but the two films that are all scenario and direction — Gravity and All Is Lost. Honestly, I could have nominated them, since you know there were scripts there, but those films are mostly about the directing and the acting, and you don’t need a screenplay nomination to validate them. So I felt I would show some love to something else that isn’t getting enough love instead.

Plus, I may end up changing my mind about American Hustle at some point in the near future, script-wise, so I may reserve the right to put All Is Lost up there instead. In fact, maybe unofficially swap those two out right now.

Either way — About Time was beautiful, and that was for sure going on my list.

Otherwise — the other three (four, technically, if we’re going by the list up there) are all self-explanatory.

For a win — I’d take Prisoners.

– – – – –

My Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Before Midnight

Captain Phillips


12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

Yes to the first four without hesitation. Before Midnight speaks for itself. Captain Phillips — I can only imagine what it took to turn that account into a movie. Philomena is a beautiful film, and deserves to be nominated. 12 Years — obviously. And Wolf of Wall Street — I kind of feel bad about including it, knowing the amount of improv that went on. But even so — there was a script, and at least there was an outline there, which is fine enough for me. They’re probably gonna nominate it anyway, so that’ll validate my doing so.

12 Years a Slave is my winner here. Philomena is a close second. But I’ll take 12 Years.

– – – – –

My Best Editing Nominees

Captain Phillips


Inside Llewyn Davis


The Wolf of Wall Street

I mean, clearly. My issues with American Hustle aren’t necessarily with the editing, but I also wouldn’t jump to nominate it. And All Is Lost — meh. I’d take Thelma over that. So this is my category.

And obviously Gravity wins this.

– – – – –

My Best Cinematography Nominees

Frank G. DeMarco & Peter Zuccarini, All Is Lost

Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

Simon Duggan, The Great Gatsby

Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis

Roger Deakins, Prisoners

It’s tough for me, having to nominate things I know were done on a computer, but this is the age we live in. Maybe there should be two cinematography categories now.

But yeah, I figure, at this point, I’m just gonna go for images over everything, and for that alone, Gravity, Prisoners and Llewyn Davis are on. All Is Lost I’d nominate as well, and then I said “fuck it,” and put Gatsby there too, even though I’m sure that was mostly done on a computer, too. But at least there, I could feel the art direction side of it, so I knew that he at least crafted the images with the DP and mostly color corrected on a computer. So those would probably be my nominees.

And honestly, I’d give this to Llewyn Davis. But I wouldn’t be upset if Deakins actually won.

– – – – –

Best Original Score

All Is Lost, Alexander Ebert

Gravity, Steven Price

Philomena, Alexandre Desplat

Prisoners, Johann Johannsson

Saving Mr. Banks, Thomas Newman

I’m gonna be honest with you — I haven’t finished listening to all the scores yet. So I can only go by the scores I have that I’ve listened to in order to vote. The Her soundtrack isn’t even out yet, and I’m wondering how much of a score is even on there, so I can’t nominate that just yet (if ever). And 12 Years a Slave has only one score track on its album, and, while the theme is good, I don’t remember much of the rest of the score from the movie, so I’m not picking that.

Otherwise, right now, my two favorite scores are All Is Lost and Gravity. I’m including Philomena because I think that score was beautiful. Prisoners might also be the best score of 2013, along with those other two I previously listed. And also, Saving Mr. Banks is on there because I’m a sucker for those classical “movie” soundtracks. The ones that are sweeping and emotional, and evoke a feeling without even needing the movie alongside it. So I put that there. Plus I also think Thomas Newman’s Side Effects soundtrack is one of the top ten or fifteen scores of the year, so that definitely works in his favor.

Ones I left off: Gatsby. I liked it, but it was just too much. The Book Thief. Love John Williams, liked the score very much, but I could only pick five. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I love Howard Shore. I think his Lord of the Rings scores were some of the best ever put to celluloid. That said — there’s a lot of stuff this year, and for me, my favorite parts of the Hobbit soundtrack are when he goes back to his Lord of the Rings motifs. So it felt like a cop out to just put him on my list purely for that.  The Best Offer, Ennio Morricone. Few people know that one of the best scores of the year is one they haven’t heard, and it was also written by a master. Ennio Morricone actually wrote a score this year, people. And it’s great. Unfortunately, I just went different ways with my picks and couldn’t fit him in. I didn’t want to be the person that just nominated Ennio Morricone for the sake of nominating him. And also Oblivion. I love what Joseph Kosinski does with his scores, only I couldn’t bring myself to nominate this one (it was this and The Best Offer fighting it out for that fifth spot) just because it feels too much like a movie score and not its own thing. That Daft Punk soundtrack for Tron Legacy was so good that it managed to be a movie score and its own album. This one feels like a movie score. There are great moments to it and it’s definitely worth listening to, but it still feels like it’s succumbing to too many of the standard movie score tropes to really stand out the way that Tron score did. So I left that off in favor of someone like Thomas Newman, who had to major contenders that I liked very much.

Otherwise, that’s my category.

For a win — fuck… I don’t know. It’s between Ebert, Price and Johannsson for me.

If I had to pick right now, I might take Ebert.

– – – – –

Best Original Song

“Amen,” from All Is Lost

“Let It Go,” from Frozen

“Young and Beautiful,” from The Great Gatsby

“Oblivion,” from Oblivion

“Stay Alive,” from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I basically already went over this when I went over the shortlist. My only change is not putting two Gatsby songs on there. I don’t want to mess up the vote. Otherwise, these were the ones I personally liked best this year.

And we all know what’s winning. (It’s not even a competition.)

– – – – –

Best Animated Feature


Monsters University

The Wind Rises

That’s it. Nominate whatever the hell else you want here. As long as these three make it, I’m good.

(I haven’t seen the lesser known ones yet. I’d probably put two of those on instead of the obvious two alternates. But I need to see them to nominate them.)

Also — Frozen. Though I’d be cool if Miyazaki somehow won.

– – – – –

Best Production Design


The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Inside Llewyn Davis

Saving Mr. Banks

I’m pretty sure these are the five. Maybe not for them, but for me. These five came to me immediately.

Gravity is actually the one that feels weakest to me. Otherwise — Middle Earth always scores points to me, since at least I can still feel like there are some real locations left in there and it’s not all CGI. Mr. Banks — Disneyland, 60s. Of course I was voting for this. And then Llewyn Davis is just incredible, like all Coen brothers movies. And Gatsby –– obviously.

My vote is probably Gatsby right now, but I could change my mind to Llewyn Davis at any time.

– – – – –

Best Costume Design

American Hustle

The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Inside Llewyn Davis

Saving Mr. Banks

These seemed like the obvious choices. Nothing else jumped out at me. Not going for 12 Years, since I never like those slavery costumes. It’s a boring era for me, personally. And Oz — no. So I’ll stick with my five.

For the win, I have to go Gatsby. I have to.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club

The Great Gatsby

Based on the shortlist, these are the only three I’d go for. I’m not voting for Bad Grandpa, or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (though, “Academy Award nominee Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” would be funny). I don’t think The Lone Ranger was all that special for makeup. (Though it would be my #4, to be honest.) And The Hunger Games — whatever. I’ll go with 70s hairstyles (including the combover, and Bradley Cooper’s little curl thing he had going on there), AIDS patients, and Baz Luhrmann.

And for the win, I guess I have to say American Hustle. They did work with that combover.

– – – – –

Best Visual Effects


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Iron Man 3

The Lone Ranger

Pacific Rim

I’m leaving off Star Trek. Because I like westerns, and because who cares? And because — “Academy Award nominee The Lone Ranger.” (Imagine two-time Academy Award nominee The Lone Ranger…)

We know Gravity is on, and The Hobbit always gets on. Pacific Rim should be on, and I’d nominate Iron Man just for all the fun they had with the suits (even though Star Trek‘s effects were, probably, better, on the whole).

Either way — Gravity wins this in a landslide. We’re all one for one on Oscar night and they haven’t even announced nominations yet.

– – – – –

Best Sound Mixing

All Is Lost


Inside Llewyn Davis

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


Well obviously, right?

I’ll always single out a musical for sound mixing, and Gravity and Rush are so obvious choices.

All Is Lost I thought was beautiful, and I figure, why not go Hobbit? Those are my five.

Props to Lone Survivor, though. They also did a great job. And Captain Phillips.

For the win, it’s Gravity.

– – – – –

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost


The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey

Lone Survivor


I’ll give Lone Survivor this one, since Editing is more about compiling all the sounds, so Llewyn Davis isn’t much about that as much as it is Sound Mixing. I probably should have went Captain Phillips, but I can still hear the sounds of all the guys slamming against the trees and the rocks, so I’ll give Lone Survivor some props.

Gravity wins for me, by the way.

– – – – –

Best Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Hunt

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

The Notebook

(The shortlist is here.)

Basically, of the nine on the shortlist, I’ll have (or already have) seen four of them. So let’s stick with those four, and throw on The Notebook as the fifth. The only other film I’d have gone for was Omar, which I still really know nothing about, so I’d rather have stuff I know rather than ones I don’t, since it’s easier to give a shit about the category that way.

I won’t cast a vote until I’ve seen enough of the films. That’s just unfair to do it that way.

– – – – –

My Best Documentary Feature Nominees

(I’m basing this on the shortlist.)

The Act of Killing


Stories We Tell

Tim’s Vermeer

20 Feet from Stardom

I’ve seen Stories We Tell and The Act of Killing. Neither particularly blew me away, but I’m not a documentary person. I liked them well enough, so I’ll put those on by sheer fact that they got me to see them. I hear great things about Blackfish, and it’s about killer whales, so that’s always a plus in my book. 20 Feet from Stardom and Tim’s Vermeer — I like that they’re not about the government and all that other stuff that I find boring, so that’s why those got on. Otherwise — you need to actually see the documentaries before you can vote (or maybe that’s final voting, and not nominations voting, since the branch does nominations voting), so it’s not like my votes count. I’m just going by the shortlist and what I’d prefer to see on there.

No vote being cast. Haven’t seen enough of the films to do that.

– – – – –

Best Documentary Short



Jujitsu-ing Reality

The Lady in Number 6

Prison Terminal


Because why not? I could not care less about this category.

– – – – –

Best Live-Action Short






The Voorman Problem

These are the ones that sounded most interesting to me. This is really all I have to go on.

No vote, once again. Do not care, and haven’t seen any.

– – – – –

Best Animated Short



Get a Horse!

Gloria Victoria

Mr. Hublot

Requiem for Romance

Those are the five that looked the best.

I’ll probably find a way to see these before Oscar night, so I’ll cast a vote for the nominees. Right now, these are my five, and they look the best.

– – – – – – – – – – –

So, those are my nominations.

Tomorrow we’re going to objectively go over what I think is going to be nominated, and then on Thursday, the nominees will be announced, and I’ll write those up when they happen and analyze all that good stuff.

Oscar time is here, people. Get excited.


One response

  1. JamDenTel

    THANK YOU for putting Gyllenhaal lead. That is absolutely a lead performance. I’d put on Ejiofor over Redford, but otherwise, I like it.

    Larson is my vote. Haven’t seen AOS (well, not the movie).

    No love for the makeup work for Prisoners or Lone Survivor?

    January 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

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