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Three Oscar voters share their super-secret ballots

The Oscar vote starts Thursday and, as all responsible citizens reading this know, you’re not always whole prepared when you come face to face with that ballot. Film school members, including the three who share their picks here, sometimes make their choices on the spur of the moment and end up looking back on their selections with a mixture of bewilderment and regret.

In other words: Oscar voters…they’re just like us!

Our trio this year — an actor, a producer, and a director — are united on two fronts: They’re thrilled with the nominated films and performances, and they’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the hard choices they have to make in the voting. Here’s what they thought on the eve of voting…

DIRECTOR, Woman in her fifties

Image: I’ve seen ‘Tár’ three times now and it’s not just my favorite movie of the last year, it’s one of my favorites of the last decade. It is vital, strange, provocative. The tension surrounding the old guard passing power to Lydia in a completely male-dominated system and the sense that she was holding on to that power very tightly, came across much harder on me on multiple viewings, as did, of course, the surreal accents and the dream logic. I also like to see a movie more than once and be struck by its insistence on a degree of mystery. I still have questions!

Director: Since I love “Tár” as much as I do, it’s no surprise that I’m voting for Todd Field, who directed this movie with such an order. Every time I watched it, it became a braver movie. I loved the complexity of my experience with the movie. I loved the fact that in some ways I loved Lydia Tár, and in others I was completely repulsed by her. I think that’s our relationship with artists and iconic figures that we put on a pedestal and then have to go through the unwelcome experience of exposing their bad behavior and disordered egos. Field makes you struggle with that and adds so much detail and nuance. It’s a huge achievement.

Leading actress: Cate Blanchett for the perfect marriage of performance and filmmaking in “Tár”…although I struggled with that because I also loved Andrea Riseborough in “To Leslie”. I think the controversy surrounding her nomination, it’s like some academy members weren’t comfortable with what it exposed – that it helps when powerful, visible people take notice of you. Yes, that’s an unfortunate fact of this process. But her nomination was a real bright spot for me, and it’s sad that it’s curdled in this way.

Main actor: I liked Colin Farrell so much he’s done, and lately it just feels like he’s ramped it up to 11. It’s so exciting to see his lack of vanity. You watch him play characters that make you wonder if they’re weak, but then he reveals underlying layers of humanity. He’s so poignant in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’.

Supporting Actress: There’s something about watching an actor that makes you feel like you have this relationship over time. I’ve seen Jamie Lee Curtis in so many movies since I was about 10 years old and seeing her play this grumpy character who was a big softie inside in “Everything Everywhere All At Once” just made me happy. I just love that performance. It’s so memorable and so much fun. I hope she wins.

Supporting role: Barry Keoghan in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” At first it feels like you’re supposed to laugh at him and he’s the butt of the joke and then you get to know the character in all its complexity so that by the time we land on his face for the last time, it’s just devastating. If it felt like such a loss. Every line he delivered was perfect. The way he throws “touché” in that one scene… you think, “Oh, maybe I totally misunderstood that character.”

(Lehel Kovacs / For The Times)

PRODUCER, man in his 40s

Image: My top three are ‘Women Talking’, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Tár’. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” would come in fourth, and I think it’s going to win the best picture award and I’ll be super excited if it does. I must say I liked the list of 10 nominees this year. There will always be fights. I would have loved to see “The Woman King” there. So it is difficult to rank them. But “Women Talking” was the movie that moved me the most, and it did a lot of things that I want to do in my own work. And “Top Gun” second to what it did for movies at the time it was released.

Director: I’m tempted to vote for (“The Fabelmans” director Steven) Spielberg, but I think Todd Field would vote for “Tár.” It’s just such a smart, gripping, masterful movie.

Leading actress: I’m not sure between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett. I think I’m going with Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis in the supporting categories, so probably Blanchett. Surely I can’t vote for “everything and everywhere at the same time” everywhere? Or maybe I can. (laughs)

Main actor: I’m not always into the Baz Luhrmann experience, but I was super blown away by Austin Butler in “Elvis.” I don’t even have to think about this.

Supporting Role and Supporting Role: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” works so well because of those supporting performances from Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan – they’re an integral part of all those individual pieces that make up a bigger whole. They’re just perfect, timeless examples of what it means to do a supporting performance and just plain fun. I also like who they both are in the industry as a whole. In a perfect world I like to vote for a great achievement that also honors a career and voting for them ticks both boxes.

ACTOR, female in her fifties

Image: You’re supposed to rank these, and I’ve been shuffling the order in my head for the past few days. I just watched “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for the second time and it was even better on repeat viewing. The ending just disappointed me. But… maybe I’ll watch “Tár” one more time before I vote, because I want to lose myself in the mysteries and intricate world it creates. Let’s put those at one and two for now.

Director: Todd Field for ‘Tar’. He made me feel uncomfortable, and I like movies that make me feel that way.

Leading actress: Andrea Riseborough was extraordinary in “To Leslie,” and it’s unfair that people have become so focused on the unorthodox campaign and have lost sight of how valuable the work is. She is a chameleon and has been amazing in everything she has done. All five women are remarkable. I wish I could vote for them all.

Main actor: Colin Farrell is one of our greatest actors and has been on this remarkable run for seemingly forever. There are such undercurrents of pain and sadness and loneliness in his performance in “Banshees.” And also moments that made me laugh out loud. It’s hard not to vote for Austin Butler because I loved “Elvis,” but I think he’ll be back at the Oscars in the near future.

Supporting Actress: There are a lot of great acting twists in Marvel movies that get overlooked, and I just don’t think you can do that with Angela Bassett, can you? She should have an Oscar by now.

Supporting role: They’re all so good, but I think Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” because he does so many things in that movie and does them all so well.