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Oscar Ballots Out Today. Three Simple FYCs for Voters.

Let the Oscar balloting begin. The image we use to illustrate is envelopes because they're pretty but they're also analog when even as ancient an institution as Oscar -- he's 88 years old now! -- has gone digital. Academy members can start nominating their favorites TODAY.  I won't barrage AMPAS members with requests other than these three wishes:

1. Please ignore precursors. Surprise us! 
The precursor bodies make terrible mistakes in trying to predict you (SAG & Critics Choice in particular this year are just a mess of lazy "what will the Academy vote for?" impulses rather than a searching for what constitutes great work which should always be the only concern). Two fine movies off the top of our heads that nobody expects you to vote for this year but why the hell shouldn't you? Sicario and Tangerine. People also seem to agree that you won't get behind stories about women but we know you have it in you. The public is enjoying reliving 1977 because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens but remember in 1977 how 80% of your Best Picture lineup was about women? Good times! I mean, why shouldn't you vote for something as gentle, resonant, and well modulated as Brooklyn, for example?

2. FYC: Remember that love stories require two leads. 
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are a beautiful team in Carol - so don't separate them in two different categories. Think of the classic screen couples (Gone With the Wind, The Way We Were, Titanic, It Happened One NightCasablanca, Coming Home, etcetera). In none of those romantic dramas do people pretend one movie star is "supporting" the other movie star. Be reasonable and put an end to greedy campaign strategies that make the very notion of awards seem crassly opportunist when the conversation should be edifying and fun; "Best" is a beautiful word! And love stories are love stories are love stories whether the couple is straight or LGBT. (See also: The Danish Girl)

3. Most ≠ Best
This isn't just about the acting categories but how about a deserved nod here or there that you could never call "Most" but could definitely argue "Best".  Three examples of many: The Production Design of Room (a top notch technical achievement but also emotionally intelligent and a true creative challenge); The Visual Effects of Ex Machina (there's no grand setpieces, sure, but damn if these fx aren't a master class and hugely impressive in comparison to the typical CGI shenanigans of blockbusters like Jurassic World); and the Original Score of Steve Jobs (unusual, contemporary, and creatively retro too).


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Reader Comments (25)

FYC - Consider Ex Machina in More than special effects. Consider it for Picture, Director, Screenplay, supporting actor (HOW has Isaac not gotten any oscar traction??), and Actress.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

FYC. Please ignore Lenny Abrahamson who almost ruined an otherwise terrific adapted novel.
FYC. You better include Todd Haynes as best director as HE IS actually the best director (Gorge Miller is the best action-director which is entirely another category)
FYC.If you ignore Phillys Nagy adapted screenplay you'll burn in hell and will embarrase yourselves to death.
FYC. Surprise us with Ryan Coogler in the director category. He deserves it because Creed's flaweless in that department, and for giving Rocky's franchise the dignity and cleverness lost a long time ago. And the best part Stallone is in since... Rocky.
FYC. Michael B. Jordan ACTUALLY gives one of the five best leading permances of the year!
FYC. I will push both Jacob Tremblay and Rooney Mara to lead. They are co-leads!
FYC. Ignore Judy ther Bear as supporting an The Revenant as a whole, except for cinematography. And embrace the big open-hearted simplicity of the lovely BROOKLYN, instead! IT IS the better film!
FYC. Emory Cohen, too!
Mocking Meryl voice: That's all!

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Please ignore precursors. Surprise us!

Please ignore precursors. Surprise us!

Please ignore precursors. Surprise us!

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Chofer: "FYC. You better include Todd Haynes as best director as HE IS actually the best director (Gorge Miller is the best action-director which is entirely another category)"

There's not a best action-director category. So, all directors possibilitys fall in the best director category, including action. What you said is the same of saying that a comedy can't compete is best movie, because it's for dramas.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarcello

Marcello. It was ironic. George Miller is IN. Todd Haynes, not so sure. Academy has lately a tracking for awarding directors working towards more action-oriented films on bigger canvas like Life of Pi, Gravity, etc. Mad Max falls in tha category, not Carol. What you say is correct and obvious.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

FYC - Don't be afraid to think outside of the box in Best Picture and embrace animated films, genre films, science-fiction films, and foreign films. Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex Machina, and Son of Saul all deserve to be there above standard fare.

FYC - Help in stopping campaign category fraud by pushing all of the co-leads up to Lead, allowing true supporting performances to be recognized (Winslet, Stewart, Isaac, Keaton, Hoult).

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjames14

FYC - Geza Rohrig and Christopher Abbot for Best Actor, Cynthia Nixon for Supporting Actress.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Brooklyn is a love story and only has one lead; I would put both Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson as supporting.

And having just watched Carol, I'm baffled as to how people can think Rooney Mara is supporting. IF (and that's a big if for a reason) I had to choose one of them in supporting, it would be Cate Blanchett.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

MDA -- i'm speaking in general rule or thumbs. don't spoil it ;)

December 30, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

As harsh as it may be, I'd rather see an actor un-nominated than to be placed in a supporting category for a lead performance because it's incredibly unfair to genuine supporting players, many of whom have carved out careers as character actors in character parts.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Loved the fact you see The Way We Were as a Classic love storie.....well done!!!!

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJair

Brooklyn has a love interest story housed in it, but that's not the main plot of the film like Carol or Brokeback Mountain.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRami

As long as voters forget about JJL's token career nod and let Fonda in for probably the final time in her career everything's ok with me plus the two K/Cate's need there 7 noms to seperate them from the pack.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Three, huh?

1) FYC: Ex Machina in all eligible categories. Clearly, you're effects branch is dazzled. Critics have been smitten with Vikander in Supporting Actress. Alex Garland has picked up a handsome array of honors for original screenplay and first time director. Go all the way and surprise us with Best Picture, Best Director, and maybe even a sneaky little Best Actor or Supporting Actor for Gleeson and Isaac.

2) FYC: Tangerine for everything. I'll even accept category fraud if putting Mya Taylor supporting means you consider Kitana Kiki Rodriguez for leading.

3) FYC: The songs of Home for Original Song. Home is a charming animated film with a great use of original songs. They're great. I'm sad the driving song isn't on the long list, but you can do that lovely, tear-jerky theme Feel the Light easily. And I won't throw you out of the house if you nominate home for Animated Feature.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

FYC - Have Steve Harvey come out at the beginning of the ceremony and announce that Crash didn't actually win, Brokeback did.

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

FYC outside-the-box contenders from each acting category...

BEST ACTOR: Jason Segel, "The End of the Tour"

BEST ACTRESS: Emily Blunt, "Sicario"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Kyle Chandler, "Carol"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Cynthia Nixon, "James White"

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Costume Category: Recognize the amazing talent of Kate Hawley (Crimson Peak), her creations made that movie, and the brilliance of Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road).

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V.

@Eddie, Omg, THIS. Is it too late to book him for 2017???

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V.

@Eddie: LOL this would be so perfect.
"...I have to apologize. Crash is the runner-up. Best Picture of 2005 is....Brokeback Mountain!"
Do you have Twitter? Can I tweet this? Thanks:))

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Charlie - feel free

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

FYC - best acrtess Blanchett & Mara, best supporting actress *surprise!!* Sarah Paulson (great performance, some leftover goodwill from 12 years a slave, Sally Hawkins, unsung national treasure?)

FYC - can we please get Cynthia Nixon to EGOT before Brian Cranston?

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

FYC - Nina Hoss' tour de force performance in Phoenix. I saw the ending last nite & was totally blown away by how simple yet how powerful it is! Its a shame she's not getting any award traction. I wld rate her performance even above Queen Cate & Princess Mara....& Yes, pls put both o them in the lead category, there will be NO love story (the theme of Carol) w/o one or the other........

FYC - No more JLaw, let other more deserving actress filled the precious 5 slots (Rampling, Hoss, Tomlin, Mulligan, Blunt etc)

FYC - Alicia Vikander being nom for Ex-Machina rather The Danish Girl, Cynthia Nixon for James White & Kristin Steward for Clouds o Sils Maria

December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I've gone from being really nervous for Todd Haynes to being really nervous for Phyllis Nagy. It's staggering to me that several pundits don't even have her name in the mix. If Carol is as wonderful as most people say it is, then Phyllis should be front and centre for a nom. There is no movie without the words!


December 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEz

FYC: "The Last Five Years" in ANYTHING. Preferably Best Actress, but since that's tough, perhaps an Editing nod?

Also, Joan Allen in "Room" and Sullivan Stapleton in "Cut Snake" please?

December 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P

My three FYCs for nominations (in no particular order):

- Ennio Morricone for Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight

- Cartel Land for Best Documentary Feature

- No category fraud!

December 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

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