A sneak peek at three Oscar ballots

A sneak peek at three Oscar ballots
(Pete Ryan / For the Los Angeles Times)
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On the eve of Oscar voting, we asked three academy members to let us peek at their ballots and tell us, anonymously, who they’re voting for and why. Here’s what they had to say:

OSCARS 2013: Full Coverage

PRODUCERS BRANCH: This 40ish Oscar nominee raved about the depth of choices on this year’s ballot and voted accordingly. Don’t get him started on the snub of “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow, though.


Picture: “Zero Dark Thirty.”

“To me, it’s a clear choice. What I really like about it, beyond its superb craft and storytelling, is that it’s a conversation starter. It’s forcing us to confront the moral trade-offs we made in killing [Osama] bin Laden. That’s great art.”

Director: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

“That’s the hardest category for me because I can’t vote for Kathryn Bigelow. I thought ‘Lincoln’ was a good film and Spielberg showed admirable restraint in his direction.”

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

“He just kept it so real. I felt like I was watching Abraham Lincoln, the way he buried himself in the role.”


Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“She was sensational, both guarded and emotionally open at the same time. It’s a really complex performance, but then everybody in that movie is really great.”

Supporting actor: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“We haven’t seen him be that good in some time, so it’s a nice reminder of just what a fine actor he is. It’s a different type of performance for him, with a little bit of everything in there. The range he shows is incredible.”

Supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”

“She may have less screen time than the other nominees, but what she does in that song ... wow. It breaks your heart.”


Original screenplay: Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”

“I loved the procedural nature of it and how the tension just builds and builds. The detail he works in there is incredible.”

Adapted screenplay: Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”

“The way he was able to weave the various threads of history through the story was beautiful. I loved the subtle undertones of the piece too, the way it’s clearly relevant to our times today.”

OSCARS 2013: Defining scenes | Oscar Watch | Play-at-Home Ballot | Snubs & surprises | Reactions | Trivia | Timeline

ACTORS BRANCH: This veteran in her 50s clearly belongs to the group that helped make “Silver Linings Playbook” become the first film since “Reds” to win nominations in all four acting categories.


Picture: “Silver Linings Playbook”

“It’s so character-driven and emotional. I’m tired of these cartoon movies. This reminded me of those Preston Sturges films with the old-fashioned love story and the crazy, dysfunctional family.”

Director: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“He knows how to tell complex stories with complicated characters and still have a lot of emotion. This movie is not glib. I like that.”

Actor: Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“From a pure performance standpoint, it’s Denzel Washington for ‘Flight.’ But I also like to vote for actors who stretched the most, who made the biggest transition. We know Daniel Day-Lewis is a genius. But now we know Bradley Cooper can be amazing too.”


Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“The physicality of that performance with the emotion is beyond extraordinary. And there’s an inherent humor that we’ve never seen before. That scene in the diner, the explosion of anger and hurt, was amazing.”

Supporting actor: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“Remember when he breaks down with his son? I wept like a baby!”

Supporting actress: Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“It’s an underappreciated performance because it isn’t flashy. But everything she does is believable, particularly the way she is with De Niro. You really buy them as a couple.”

Original screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”


“I love those exploitation movies, so I went in primed to enjoy it and I just went with it from the moment the lights went down.”

Adapted screenplay: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

“Comedies with this kind of dimension are very tough to pull off.”

OSCARS 2013: Defining scenes | Oscar Watch | Play-at-Home Ballot | Snubs & surprises | Reactions | Trivia | Timeline

DIRECTORS BRANCH: This 50ish Oscar nominee revealed an eclectic Oscar ballot, expressing his wish to “reward the wealth of great work” done in 2012.

Picture: “Argo”

“Ben Affleck just keeps getting better as a director. ‘Argo’ is smart, and it has a lot of heart too. That movie does so many different things and does them all so well. I’ve seen it three times, and it really holds up.”


Director: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

“As much as I like the other Ben’s [Affleck] work, there’s a magical element to ‘Beasts’ that just floored me in the originality of its vision. I can’t wait to see his next movie.”

Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

“There’s a lot of great choices here, but I’m going with Joaquin. The physicality of his performance alone is remarkable. It’s an inspired take on a coming-home story from this particular era, this particular war. He made me laugh and choked me up, sometimes in the same scene.”

Actress: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

“It’s really almost from another planet, her work here. She’s in a part that typically would be played by a man, and she brings all that steely, shutdown resolve to it and still shows the exhaustion and doubts and frustration lying beneath the surface. That last moment on the plane just kills me.”


Supporting actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

“Honestly, I don’t know when I haven’t voted for him. He’s always so good, and here he’s charismatic and blustery and a little deranged and ... what was that line ... a ‘hopelessly inquisitive man.’ Yeah ... he just embodied that, didn’t he?”

Supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”

“That song. What else can you say, right? She careens through longing and anger and despair, and you believe every moment and every emotion.”

Original screenplay: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, “Moonrise Kingdom”

“I always like Wes’ movies, but this was something special. It has adventure and love and humor and all the beautiful detail you always find in his movies.”


Adapted screenplay: Chris Terrio, “Argo”

“It’s a wonderfully layered piece of work, combining the history and incorporating those fun Hollywood elements without feeling forced.”


VOTE: Play-at-Home Oscar Ballot 2013

INTERACTIVE: Oscar Watch 2013

TIMELINE: Academy Awards through the years