Three Oscar voters share their super-secret ballots

An illustration of an Oscar statue wearing an "I Voted" sticker
Oscar balloting is about to begin. Wondering how some voters are leaning?
(Lehel Kovács / For The Times)

Oscar voting begins Thursday and, as all the responsible citizens reading this know, you’re not always entirely prepared when you come face to face with that ballot. Film academy members, including the three sharing their picks here, sometimes end up making their choices on a whim 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 happy with the nominated films and performances and they’re feeling a little overwhelmed because of the difficult choices the ballot requires them to make. Here’s what they were thinking on the eve of voting ...

DIRECTOR, Woman in her 50s


Picture: I’ve seen “Tár” three times now and it’s not just my favorite film from the past year, it’s one of my favorites from the past decade. It’s vital, strange, provocative. The tension around the old guard passing along power to Lydia in a completely male-dominated system and the sense of her hanging very tightly onto that power landed much harder for me with multiple viewings, as did, of course, the surreal touches and the dream logic. I also love seeing a movie more than once and being struck by its insistence on a certain amount of mystery. I still have questions!

Director: Loving “Tár” like I do, it’s no surprise I’m voting for Todd Field, who directed this movie with such command. It became a braver film every time I watched it. I loved the complexity of my experience with the movie. I loved the fact that in some respects I loved Lydia Tár, and in others, I was completely repelled by her. I think that’s our relationship to artists and iconic figures we put on a pedestal and then have to go through the unwelcome experience of uncovering their bad behavior and disordered egos. Field makes you wrestle with that, adding so much detail and nuance. It’s a massive accomplishment.

Lead actress: Cate Blanchett for the perfect marriage of performance and filmmaking in “Tár” ... though I did struggle with that as I loved Andrea Riseborough in “To Leslie” as well. I think the controversy surrounding her nomination, it’s like some academy members were uncomfortable with what it exposed — that it helps when powerful, visible people notice you. Yes, that is an unfortunate fact of this process. But her being nominated was a real bright spot for me, and it’s sad that it’s curdled in this way.

Lead actor: I’ve liked Colin Farrell in so much that he’s done, and lately it just feels like he’s cranked 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 dim, but then he reveals layers of humanity underneath. He’s so affecting in “The Banshees of Inisherin.”

Supporting actress: There’s something about seeing an actor that you feel like you have this relationship with over time. I’ve watched Jamie Lee Curtis in so many movies since I was around 10 years old and seeing her play this grouchy 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 actor: Barry Keoghan in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Initially, it feels like you’re meant to laugh at him and that he’s the butt of the joke and then you get to know the character in all of his complexity so that by the time we land on his face for the final time, it’s just devastating. It felt like such a loss. Every line he delivered was perfect. The way he throws out “touché” in that one scene ... you think, “Oh, maybe I’ve completely misunderstood that character.”

Oscar statue putting an envelope into a ballot box
(Lehel Kovács / For The Times)

PRODUCER, man in his 40s

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

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

Lead 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. I can’t vote for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” across the board, can I? Or maybe I can. [Laughs]

Lead 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 one.


Supporting actress and supporting actor: “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 creating a larger whole. They’re just perfect, timeless examples of what it means to do a supporting performance and also just great fun. I love who they both are in the industry at large as well. In a perfect world, I like to vote for a great performance that also honors a career and voting for them checks both boxes.

ACTOR, woman in her 50s

Picture: You’re supposed to rank these, and I’ve been shuffling the order around in my head for the last few days. I just watched “Everything Everywhere All at Once” a second time and it was even better on repeat viewing. The ending just floored me. However ... I might watch “Tár” again before I vote because I want to lose myself in its mysteries and that elaborate world it creates. Let’s put those at one and two for now.

Director: Todd Field for “Tár.” He made me feel uncomfortable, and I like movies that make me feel that way.

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

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


Supporting actress: There’s a lot of great acting turns 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 actor: 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 every one of them so well.