EW spoke with 10 Academy members from nine different branches about this year’s races. Here, they explain (anonymously) how they’re casting their votes. Our cast of characters includes:
• The Actor: Has worked with the greats— and the not-so-greats—in a long career
• The Producer (1): Responsible for some of the best TV and movies from the past 30 years
• The Director: Achieved notable successes in both the indie world and more commercial endeavors
• The Publicist: Tackled corporate and film PR; there is little this industry veteran hasn’t done
• The Sound Mixer: Helped craft the audio on several of the biggest block- busters of the past decade
• The Animation Director: Made a major contribution to the world of animation, and has done so quickly
• The Producer (2): Has shepherded many hit book adaptations over a lengthy career
• The Documentarian: Creates award-winning non- fiction films with a focus on social issues
• The Studio Executive: Has strived within the system to bring strong, challenging films to theaters
• The Writer: Began career with family-friendly films, then segued into dramas and tentpolesBest Picture
The Grand Budapest Hotel—2 votes
Whiplash—2 votes Selma—1 vote
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Studio Executive: Birdman tried to be something that it wasn’t, and it was all style to get there. Grand Budapest is all style, but what it tried to be, it absolutely was: a great story with romance, fun, and entertainment.
The Actor: What’s extraordinary about Boyhood is the hidden player in this drama—time—and how it plays on all the characters. I’ve never seen it before. It’s unbelievable. Subtle and earth-shattering at the same time.
The Documentarian: Birdman. It’s the highest realization of cinematic art. It’s poetic. The cinematography is brilliant. The script is brilliant. On the whole it’s a stunning achievement.Best Director
Richard Linklater, Boyhood—6 votes
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman—3 votes
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel—1 vote
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
The Director: Both Birdman and Boyhood did something special directorially, but I’m going with Linklater. It was brilliant, brave, and it could have been a disaster. People say anybody could do that, but in fact, no one has.
The Producer (1): I’ve been torn between Linklater and Anderson, but I’m going with Linklater. I think he did something very daring and original, and we have to keep celebrating those kinds of things.
The Animation Director: Iñárritu made a movie that by all rights shouldn’t have worked, and I found it continually amazing. I sat there in a daze after watching it, not sure what it all amounts to, but the work itself is astounding.Best Actress
Julianne Moore, Still Alice—6 votes
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl—2 votes
Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night—1 vote
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything—1 vote
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
The Sound Mixer: God, I love Julianne Moore. I’ve always loved her. She’s always good, and I have respect that she’s stuck it out in this business. It’s never easy and it’s even harder for women. God bless her.
The Writer: I liked Reese in Wild. I just don’t know that the performance was so amazing. I guess I’m voting for Julianne. It was a good, thoughtful performance of someone falling apart.
The Publicist: I feel bad for anybody who is not Julianne Moore in this race. It’s such a raw, powerful, and extraordinary performance. It may be her finest.Best Actor
Michael Keaton, Birdman—6 votes
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything—3 votes
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game—1 vote
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
The Documentarian: I’ll pick Keaton, but I wanted to pick David Oyelowo from Selma. Here’s a case where our members blew it.
The Publicist: I’m going with Keaton, but I think it should be Eddie Redmayne. Keaton gave a brilliant performance, and I will also admit that beyond that, I’m recognizing a career.
The Sound Mixer: Benedict Cumberbatch. I really liked that performance. It was a complicated character with a singular vision, and he pulled it off well. I’m not familiar with him from anything else. It was refreshing.Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood—6 votes
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods—2 votes
Emma Stone, Birdman—1 vote
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game—1 vote
Laura Dern, Wild
The Producer (1): Patricia Arquette. She came across as so incredibly real. Her definition of a mother and her relationship to her family and herself change in such wonderful ways.
The Actor: Meryl blew me away. When she sings that song about her daughter, she made me cry. She probably won’t win but she deserves to.
The Writer: Arquette. There was a seamlessness to her performance that makes it seem so much easier than what it is. She had to fill in these emotional gaps without exposition. That’s what made it so powerful.Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash—7 votes
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher—3 votes
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
The Actor: I’m disappointed that J.K. Simmons is a presumed lock. He’s playing a sociopathic son of a bitch, and that doesn’t require nearly the work nor the emotional depth that Mark Ruffalo uses in Foxcatcher.
The Writer: J.K. Simmons’ role harkens back to The Great Santini, but he did it in such a controlled way. What I found extraordinary was he never went over the top. His performance brought the whole movie alive.
The Producer (2): J.K. all day. That movie would be so different with any other actor. A lot of actors could have done it, but it wouldn’t have been as interesting. He dominates the movie in a way that’s amazing.