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The Oscars: How I voted, and why

Three members of the film academy give us a peek at the ballots they submitted for the Feb. 26 ceremony, and they even explain their choices.

February 09, 2012
  • Jean Dujardin stars in "The Artist."
Jean Dujardin stars in "The Artist." (Peter Iovino / Weinstein…)

Three academy members. Three branches. Three ballots. We peruse the actual Oscar votes of an actor (male, in his 60s), a director (male, 40s) and a producer (male, 50s) — not for any further clarity on the race; after trudging down the now threadbare red carpets for the last few months, we're pretty sure we know who will prevail. But looking over some of these insiders' picks does reaffirm the idea that, until the envelope is opened and the winner's name is read, anything remains possible.

THE ACTOR'S BALLOT

Picture

"The Artist"

"It's such a surprise, such a delight. This and 'Hugo' are catnip for someone with a passion for movies. They have a beautiful, celebratory feel that's easy to embrace."

Director

Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

"I've seen it twice, and I'm still not quite sure about what it all means. But I'm delighted to continue to puzzle through it for the rest of my life."

Lead actor

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"

"What a charming performance. He carries the film and does so without words. The physicality of the work is obviously important, but he gives the movie its soul too."

Lead actress

Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

"It's almost an annual event, isn't it? Another Oscar ballot, another vote for Meryl. And it's always earned. Humanizing a polarizing figure like Margaret Thatcher is not an enviable task."

Supporting actor

Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

"He's simply flawless in this, exuding so much joy and playfulness and then, later, when the events turn, such dignity."

Supporting actress

Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

"It's an offbeat choice. However, I don't think comedy ever quite receives enough respect. And here this woman is just so damn funny but within the recognizable bounds of a real person. Why not Melissa McCarthy?"

Original screenplay

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"

"The old master has delivered quite a few brilliant films in the past few years. I thought he played with the idea of nostalgia quite well here, setting up this lovely premise of the good old days and then knocking it over."

Adapted screenplay

Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

"It's quite a taut piece of work for all the complexity it contains. Even if you were familiar with the book or the miniseries, you still couldn't help but be pulled into the moments of misdirection."

MORE: Oscar Nominees | Play-at-home Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Buzzmeter | Heatmeter

THE DIRECTOR'S BALLOT

Picture

"Moneyball"

" 'Moneyball' reminds me of those great movies from the '70s. Usually when you hear, "This movie isn't about so-and-so," it really is about so-and-so. But I don't know a damn thing about baseball, and I don't want to know. This is a fantastic character study."

Director

Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

"I'm not a huge fan of the movie, but it is a directorial feat put across with a tremendous amount of energy and ideas. I'm really impressed that Marty at this age is still concerned with ideas."

Lead actor

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

"I'm tempted to go with Clooney or even Oldman as a lifetime-achievement thing. But Pitt best encompassed his character."

Lead actress

Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

"The commitment to the character grabs you. It almost reminds me of a level equal to when [Robert] De Niro played Jake LaMotta in 'Raging Bull.' "

Supporting actor

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"

"I thought his [Laurence] Olivier was astonishing. You know you're with a good supporting actor when you constantly want to leave the star and go back to his story."

Supporting actress

Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"

"She was fantastic, completely charming, though I am tempted to vote for Jessica Chastain, not for 'The Help' but for the year she had. She's probably the most exciting new actress working right now."

Original screenplay

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"

" 'The Artist' had the most original execution, but in terms of writing, that distinction goes to 'Midnight in Paris.' "

Adapted screenplay

Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, "The Descendants"

"It's a simple story but beautifully told and immediately relatable."

MORE: Oscar Nominees | Play-at-home Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Buzzmeter | Heatmeter

THE PRODUCER'S BALLOT

Picture

"The Artist"

Elegantly done on every level. It's unconventional, but I embraced it. I felt an emotional connection almost immediately.

Director

Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

The challenges in crafting this type of movie had to be enormous, and it just succeeds on every level. It has a perfect rhythm and pace and an extraordinary look.

Lead actor

Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

As usual, it's a tough category. But Oldman really captured the emotion of that character. There's so much going on behind his eyes.

Lead actress

Viola Davis, "The Help"

"She just hit me in the heart emotionally. It's beautifully layered work without a false beat. You can't imagine the movie without her."

Supporting actor

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"

"It wasn't an impersonation. He made it his own. It was grounded and real and funny, never forced."

Supporting actress

Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

"There's so much emotion behind her performance and such a range of emotions, and she puts them across so well, often with just what you see on her face."

Original screenplay

J.C. Chandor, "Margin Call"

"I love Woody Allen, but 'Margin Call' took something that could have been very inaccessible and made it compelling. I just watched it again. It's remarkable how well he services all the different characters."

Adapted screenplay

George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March"

"I know the movie hasn't received that much hype during awards season, but I saw the play, and the film took the subject matter to a whole other level. It was quite a leap, engaging and well-crafted."

calendar@latimes.com

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