Anonymous Oscar voters reveal who they're picking to win and why

Ahead of the Academy Awards on Feb. 24, EW spoke to six Oscars voters on the condition of anonymity to reveal just who they want to see receive the coveted little gold men.

Meet our voters:

THE ACTOR: An international star working across blockbusters and prestige projects from celebrated filmmakers.

THE ACTRESS: Known for supporting roles in Oscar-nominated projects that span comedy, music, and history.

THE DIRECTOR: A comedic filmmaker behind some beloved classics from the past three decades.

THE PRODUCER: A maverick who’s made Oscar-nominated hits, TV dramas, and big-budget theatrical thrillers.

THE PUBLICIST: A PR veteran with experience on hundreds of films, from high-profile Oscar contenders to indie docs.

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: An Emmy nominee who has crafted historical aesthetics for Oscar-nominated movies across a two-decade career.

Best Picture

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

THE ACTOR: “Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a feat to capture an iota of that rush on stage when Freddie Mercury is there, and trying to tell a story of a man, an entire life lived.”

THE ACTRESS: “Black Panther. That movie had such an impact. Black people have been told we can’t do a movie with black stars because it doesn’t sell. We’ve been shunned and falsely represented. It blew the box office up. Even white people are crossing their arms and talking about ‘Wakanda forever!’”

THE DIRECTOR: “Green Book. It’s about something: It’s about racism, acceptance, friendship, and bravery — it checks all the boxes of Best Picture. As a comedy director myself, I admire someone who genre-hops not only to another world, but does it so gracefully, elegantly, and with a sense of humor and humanity.”

THE PRODUCER: “The Favourite. It has something real to say about the world we live in. It’s the most relevant movie [in terms of] politics and what it must be like to work for someone so difficult to read, and prone to fits. It’s very Trumpian, whether intentional or not.”

THE PUBLICIST: “BlacKkKlansman is one of the most well-done and important movies. It took me back to the 1970s, when people were fighting for what they needed to fight for and staying vigilant. It’s a good story for the times we’re in now.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Roma is my number one [because] emotionally, artistically, and technically, it’s brilliant and beautiful. It’s what makes watching movies magical. There are so many details in every single frame, from composition to art direction to the music.”

Consensus: 0% of our panel voted for the same title!

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

THE ACTOR: “It’s Olivia Colman for me. I have seen her work before, and she’s my favorite actress. It’s so nice to be shown a different side to an actor you only know for a particular type of work.… Suddenly when you see that actor in another version of themselves, it’s a treat to watch.”

THE ACTRESS: “Melissa McCarthy. She stepped out of her comfort zone. I don’t think The Wife is one of those Academy Award performances. The Favourite is entertaining, but I’m tired of all these damn Brits coming over and winning this stuff!”

THE DIRECTOR: “Lady Gaga. She’s pretty much a novice, and I’m always very impressed by people who get in the spotlight for the first time and are able to really connect and make you forget you’re watching a performance. You truly believe you’re a voyeur. She made me forget I was watching Lady Gaga.”

THE PRODUCER: “Olivia Colman for the range of personalities she exhibited. This town is full of people who want it, and I prefer to focus on people who deserve it. Not that Glenn Close doesn’t, but in a field of great performers — many of whom want it just as badly — it’s difficult to choose.

THE PUBLICIST: “Glenn Close. She tore it up. It’s not going to be one of those “Let’s give her one because she’s been nominated seven times.” No, let’s give her one because she deserves it!”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Olivia Colman. I like the fluctuation between [her] emotions, both hilarious and devastating. Her boldness balanced the other great performances from Emma [Stone] and Rachel [Weisz]. She walked through the middle of that film and held her own.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Olivia Colman in The Favourite.

Best Actor

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

THE ACTOR: “Bradley Cooper. I thought he was so generous in his scenes that it’s endearing. It’s almost like he’s very lightly holding your hands, like how you tell a story to a baby. Some maturity has come into his performances over the years.”

THE ACTRESS: “Christian Bale is a slam dunk. He had to go into a mind-set, change his look, and gain weight. He made you not like Dick Cheney, so he did his job well.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Christian Bale is turning into one of the best actors working. If you compare American Hustle, The Fighter, Batman, Vice, those are all completely different people he morphed into. One hundred percent he was the best actor this year.”

THE PRODUCER: “Viggo Mortensen or Willem Dafoe. Green Book has a lot in common with Driving Miss Daisy as a basic comment on race relations. I think Willem is pretty good; he’s always been good. He’s a real actor.”

THE PUBLICIST: “Rami Malek, hands down. He became Freddie Mercury. It didn’t seem like a caricature or a man in drag playing a pretend version of who he thinks Freddie was. During the Live Aid scene, I had goose bumps and cried.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “There’s something about Christian Bale’s watchability in what arguably shouldn’t be a watchable performance. Through the physical makeup, I still feel like he got in there and nailed whatever it is that makes [Cheney as a character] fascinating.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Christian Bale in Vice.

Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

THE ACTOR: “This will have to go to Roma and Marina de Tavira. She really deserves this. The genius of filmmaking [is] the right people coming together, and she was there, supporting it. You could almost miss her performance, but she’s there.”

THE ACTRESS: “Regina King. I’m not going to lie: She’s a friend. But she was good and she deserves it. I also liked Amy Adams, because at least she got a chance to play a strong woman; she wasn’t weepy. [The Favourite] women were good, I get the nominations, but one wasn’t better than the other.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Regina King. I’ve seen her in many, many things over the years, but this was different in Beale Street. When her character went to Puerto Rico, I felt her panic, her apoplectic frustration with the situation. I didn’t feel like I was watching a performance. It’s a testament to how well she did it.”

THE PRODUCER: “Rachel Weisz, because she’s truly [The Favourite’s] protagonist, and she actually changes throughout the course of the story. I appreciated that her role was more substantial, and perhaps she’s in the wrong category.”

THE PUBLICIST: “Regina King. Every scene she’s in is so rich. She’s so on-point here. You’re glued to her. It’s kind of like the Viola Davis factor: She might be the best friend [or the mom], but in the moment, she’s there.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Regina King. She’s the soul and heart of that movie. Amy Adams is good, and she’ll get hers someday, but Regina is the embodiment of what [Beale Street] is.”

Consensus: 67% of our panel voted for Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

THE ACTOR: “Adam Driver is my pick, hands down. He’s just so easy with his craft, he played [the role] really smartly. It’s just something that resonated with me and was really important.”

THE ACTRESS: “Mahershala Ali. Sam [Rockwell] did a good impression of [George W.] Bush, but if I weigh that against the time and work Mahershala put in, I can’t in good conscience vote for Sam. He did more of a cameo.”

THE DIRECTOR: “I’m going with Mahershala Ali. I call actors like that a Ferrari: He’s a finely tuned, high-performance acting machine; he is so smooth and takes on every role with such originality.”

THE PRODUCER: “Adam Driver is great. I just like him as an actor. It’s not an easy part, it’s not an easy movie, but he brought something nice to it.”

THE PUBLICIST: “Mahershala Ali. He played that role with such grace. I had to choose between him and Adam Driver, but if you’re asking me today, I’m with Mahershala. Mahershala has strong presence and is the anchor.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Richard E. Grant, the definition of a supporting role. He cracks with wit and pathos…. Mahershala was the best thing about Green Book, but I’m not inclined to vote for him for another Academy Award. It wasn’t better than what he did in Moonlight.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Mahershala Ali in Green Book.

Best Director

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

THE ACTOR: “It’s between BlacKkKlansman and Roma, but Spike Lee, because there were a lot of sublayers to his film. It’s speaking at an interesting time, and it’s very relevant to where we are today. It’s scary how it resonates from that time period to now.”

THE ACTRESS: “Adam McKay for Vice. He told a story that should’ve been confusing and boring in an entertaining way.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Spike Lee. At this point in his career, he’s demonstrated his storytelling abilities. What Spike brought to BlacKkKlansman was a style I could identify. It felt like a Spike Lee film, and sometimes I think that’s a sign of a true director.”

THE PRODUCER: “I’m not a huge Roma fan, it’s profoundly boring… but I’d give it to Alfonso Cuarón in terms of the purity of his vision.”

THE PUBLICIST: “Spike Lee. The movie is deserving, and it’s about time. I’d love to see him win for this. There’s something so moving and emotional about this film, [how] Spike brought it around to [include real footage] at the end; it’s a wake-up call.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Alfonso Cuarón. I kept going between him, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Pawel Pawlikowski — they’re visionaries. It’s Cuarón’s singular vision and what he managed to achieve. His prolonged, extended shots allow you to live in this world completely.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Spike Lee and BlacKkKlansman.

Best Original Screenplay

Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

THE ACTOR: “Vice was my favorite. I think Roma is a very honest account, but Vice was a very risky one — it was a true risk for Adam McKay to jump into. His love for wanting to do something cool and nice, and play around with the art of storytelling and without thinking, ‘I might get an award for it.’ … It was indulgent and yet not.”

THE ACTRESS: “Green Book. I love the story because of where we are in this country right now. That movie needs attention because it’s showing tolerance, understanding, friendship. It also shows how far we’ve come, but also how far we’ve yet to go. I’m choosing more of a feel-good, political movie for Original Screenplay.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Vice, because I think Adam McKay is brilliant. As a comedy guy, I love seeing comedy guys transcend their genre. To take a character like [Dick Cheney] from history, and make such an entertaining story that transcended beyond what I thought I knew, was a feat.”

THE PRODUCER: “The Favourite. Unbelievable ambition, but the dialogue! Every single one of those conversations is brilliant. You could subtitle those scenes with what people are thinking versus what they’re saying, [and] I like the contemporizing of history.”

THE PUBLICIST: “The Favourite made [history] fun. It didn’t feel like another Mary Queen of Scots or [standard] Queen Anne.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Vice. To take the complexities, the intricacies, and details of what, on its face, you can’t imagine being [accessible, and Adam McKay’s] stamp — this meta, breaking-the-fourth-wall style — worked well for telling this story.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Adam McKay’s Vice.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters, A Star Is Born

THE ACTOR: “A Star Is Born. It’s something that rises above the page, that’s where it resonated with me on an emotional level. And at the end of the day, no matter how technical you get, you can check all the boxes, but some things are just emotionally strong.”

THE ACTRESS: “If Beale Street Could Talk. I love Barry Jenkins being able to take the words of James Baldwin and make them into a movie. It’s only fair [because] for years, black writers, actors, directors, producers, we have been shut out of this industry for too long.”

THE DIRECTOR: “BlacKkKlansman. I went with what I thought was the freshest. I felt for the Adam Driver character, and I felt real tension, being a Jew myself.… The touch of humor that was injected into that and the style that Spike put in, it made that story resonate more.”

THE PRODUCER: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?. It’s a movie defined by its screenplay in a way that the others aren’t. The others are fine, [but] Can You Ever Forgive Me? is spectacular. It’s a movie that’s defined by an amazing script.”

THE PUBLICIST: “If Beale Street Could Talk. I remember reading this book years ago, and it felt like it was so true to the point of the film. James Baldwin would be proud. The character development felt like it was from the book, like the book had come to life.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “If Beale Street Could Talk. I thought it was successful at achieving the spirit of the book. He gave the right voice to that story in its quietness. There’s a smallness and a largeness at the same time.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk.

Best Original Song

“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

THE ACTOR: “My two favorites are The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and A Star Is Born. I think, hands down, it’s ‘Shallow.’ It’s such a heart-wrenching song that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper did, and I was just blown away.”

THE ACTRESS: “‘All the Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, from Black Panther. It’s hip and captures the movie well. It’s one of my favorite parts of the movie when they’re playing that song.”

THE DIRECTOR: “‘Shallow.’ [A Star Is Born] was amazing, and I’m a huge Gaga fan, and I think Bradley did a tremendous job. I think it was a real tour de force for him to work not only on the script but to direct, be on camera, and also to be on the score.”

THE PRODUCER: “I’ll probably vote for ‘Shallow’ because I like Mark Ronson and I want to encourage big stars to continue to do music for movies. But I don’t think any of the songs are great. Part of what’s wrong with A Star Is Born is I didn’t get into the music.”

THE PUBLICIST: “‘Shallow’ is why I bought the soundtrack! I like a lot of the other songs, but I’m singing ‘Shallow’ in the shower. It captures everything about the movie, but it also stands alone from the film.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “I voted for ‘Shallow.’ To me, that is the essence of what the perfect song is in a movie. What it does, what it says, how it plays. I can’t imagine the movie without that song.

Consensus: 83% or our panel voted for “Shallow” from A Star Is Born.

Best Original Score

Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
Terence Blanchard, BlacKkKlansman
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns

THE ACTOR: “I would give it to Mary Poppins Returns. [The music] just blew me away, to be able to recreate something so iconic. I wasn’t a big fan of the film, and it didn’t do much for me, but the score, music, and singing was on point.”

THE ACTRESS: “I think it’s Black Panther because I love the music. It spoke to me as a black woman as something I could enjoy. It’s music that I remember. It made me feel good; it made me feel that it was supporting the scenes.”

THE DIRECTOR: “I went with If Beale Street Could Talk. There was a repetitiousness of the theme in the score, and that made it stand out to me. It wasn’t just wallpaper in the background, there was a personality that the score had.”

THE PRODUCER: “Black Panther. I love Ludwig Göransson. The score is great, and when it’s great, I notice it; I didn’t notice the score of the other movies.”

THE PUBLICIST: “BlacKkKlansman. There’s something about when you get Terence Blanchard and Spike Lee together, he gets every beat. It’s a culmination of everything he’s so good at: [blending] classical with the R&B of that period. It really brought the film to a good place.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s the perfect score for this film: grand, intimate, and lush. It supported what was a monumental story that also felt very specific and nuanced in a magical way. It takes you into the world of the city at that time.”

Consensus: 50% of our panel voted for Nicholas Britell’s score for If Beale Street Could Talk.

Best Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

THE ACTOR: “I’ve only seen Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse so far. Incredibles 2 was very good, but unanimously, everybody I know who has seen Spider-Man thought it’s very nice, very good. But I don’t want to give my judgement on that yet. [Between the two I’ve seen], it’s Spider-Man.”

THE ACTRESS: “Incredibles 2. I love the concept of family, the family’s powers, and the voices. I haven’t yet seen the one everybody loves, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but if I had to tell you right now, it would be Incredibles 2. You can put me down for that.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I thought it was very original. I was quite surprised, being that it was the umpteenth story in the Spider-Man world. Comparing this to sequels [Ralph Breaks the Internet and Incredibles 2], even though this is yet another telling of the Spider-Man story, it’s original in comparison.”

THE PRODUCER: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is cool, young, weird, and great. Let’s celebrate that because I encourage other companies [to make similar films]. I like breaking the Disney monopoly on Animated Film. It’s funny Isle of Dogs wasn’t dinged [by the Academy voters] for cultural insensitivity or appropriation.”

THE PUBLICIST: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s so different, it’s so new. The animation is great; the story is even stronger. At first I thought, ‘Do I really want to watch another Spider-Man?’ We’ve seen everything [before], but the diversity [stands out]. It’s timelier.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “Isle of Dogs. I loved the story, and the artistry is exquisite. I hadn’t watched it until I looked at it for voting purposes, but I loved it. I actually nominated it for production design.”

Consensus: 67% of our panel voted for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Best Foreign-Language Film

Cold War
Never Look Away

THE ACTOR: “Capernaum. It was interesting to see this boy suing his parents, and the execution is what I loved. [Director] Nadine Labaki, I’ve seen her other films [and] the topics she picks are very interesting, and how she executes each one is very different.”

THE ACTRESS: “I like that Roma is about Hispanic housekeepers. That’s something we deal with in Los Angeles. It shows that these people have a life they sacrifice when they move into people’s homes and give up their own life. They become part of the family.”

THE DIRECTOR: “Roma. That was an easy one for me. I also like the period in which the story was being told. It felt almost like a throwback to Italian films of a couple of decades ago in the way it was shot and told, so it was nostalgic.”

THE PRODUCER: “Cold War is spectacular. It reminds people of that period. It’s a great story. But I haven’t seen some of the other movies. Right now, it’s Cold War. But that could change.”

THE PUBLICIST: “I love Roma, but I’m going to vote for Shoplifters. It gave us a glimpse into a family that we’ve never seen before or that we rarely see.”

THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER: “I love Cold War, and given this opportunity to vote for Roma in the Best Picture category, I’ll use my foreign vote for Cold War [because] it’s such a bold love story, and Joanna Kulig’s performance is unbelievable.”

Consensus: It’s a TIE between Roma and Cold War, each with 33% of the votes.

A version of this story appears in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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