Oscars: How 5 Academy Members Are Voting -- and Why
The Actress: Gravity (shown)
The bare-bones filmmaking [on Gravity] was complicated and lengthy, and you don't see any of that [on screen]. You see this effortless, simple, and beautiful story unfold. It's what makes Gravity rise above the rest.
The Producer: Gravity
It's almost perfect in terms of visual effects. The performances are great, and I love how the plot and the emotional plot connect and they each make the story better. You see a number of movies a year and something grabs you as great. It happens to me once or twice a year, and this was the one.
The Director: 12 Years a Slave
It was the most powerful movie of the year. Gravity and American Hustle were both absolutely incredible, but I have to give it to 12 Years based on the importance of the subject matter.
The Screenwriter: 12 Years a Slave
It was by far not my favorite picture, but choosing 12 Years validates the idea that the film should exist. Some of the performances are stronger than others; the script is strong in some places, not others. But these stories shouldn't be marginalized, and it's a triumph it got made. The film needs to be in the world, and for all the years that it hasn't been, this is the best picture of the year.
The Cinematographer: American Hustle
It's a combination of amazing storytelling, engaging performances — and I loved the costumes. I had a hard time deciding between that and 12 Years a Slave. But Hustle was slightly more entertaining.
The Actress: Alexander Payne, Nebraska (shown)
This one is difficult. I like to see the director's hand. I can see [American Hustle director] David O. Russell working with the actors, and I like that. With [Gravity's] Alfonso Cuarón, his use of film is so sophisticated. But how much you can do simply is really exciting to me, so I'm going to end up marking Alexander Payne.
The Producer: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
It's an amazing technical achievement. I thought Captain Phillips [not nominated in this category] was a great piece of direction, but this was just amazing.
The Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
It's really close between McQueen and Cuarón. There is something about how McQueen dealt with the subject matter that I found both classy and refreshing. He treated it with authenticity, honesty, and originality. It made me want to go home and hug my kids.
The Screenwriter: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
It's a directorial achievement that stands apart from everything else. The director's vision is to take an idea and create a universe around it. He did that, literally. And it's not just the technical prowess. To make a drama where a woman floats around for an hour and a half by herself, and to keep a narrative focused, is pretty impressive.
The Cinematographer: Alexander Payne, Nebraska
It doesn't make sense to like the movie and not the director. And I like the way David [O. Russell] covered the scenes. I like what the camera was doing. It felt free and uninhibited, yet at the same time it was a very precise performance. Yet I pick Alexander for all the same reasons, but his is much more restrained and unpretentious. David's is big, pretentious, entertaining, and over-the-top. But I'm going for Alexander.
The Actress: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club (shown)
It's such a bold, brave performance. And to shoot that movie in 25 days, it's awesome to do. It's incredibly intense, it's little time for preparation — you're just working the whole way through it.
The Producer: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Chiwetel [Ejiofor] was really amazing, and Christian [Bale] turned in another amazing performance. But I think I'll go with McConaughey. Not only was it a comeback, but it was a great character that you could get behind. He made me believe he had AIDS.
The Director: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
I've been a Matthew fan forever, but I wasn't watching Matthew up there. He made me forget that it was him.
The Screenwriter: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
That film devastated me.
The Cinematographer: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
It was a total metamorphosis. Forget about him losing weight — that's not the point. He became that character. It felt alive.
The Actress: Amy Adams, American Hustle (shown)
Amy Adams gives one hell of a performance. She has an extraordinary range and she got David [O. Russell] to use that range, and it's just flat-out great acting. She's in it every moment.
The Producer: Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Sandy is what grabs me in the film. That's the best performance. Meryl [Streep] was really good, but that character just bugs me a lot. Amy Adams was really good, but I thought her costar Jennifer Lawrence gave a more interesting performance.
The Director: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
It was a hard one between Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, but I went with Blanchett. I saw a side of her I'd never seen before. It was extremely honest. There was no filter. I do believe [the performance] was better than the picture, but that's what often gets the Best Actress award.
The Screenwriter: Judi Dench, Philomena
It's about what I didn't love about the other performances, and she is the one left standing. Dench's performance is a tonal triumph, just like the film.
The Cinematographer: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Amy [Adams] was fantastic. She was a liar, but she made it believable and you felt embarrassed for her. Yet all the performances in that movie were caricatures — people who were really good at being sleazy. With Cate, it was all that stuff but it was more elegant.
Best Supporting Actor
The Actress: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
It seems like the most difficult of the roles. Jared [Leto] does a great job, but I've always felt male actors like to put on a dress and have some fun. Fassbender has the acting chops. He gave it his all.
The Producer: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips (shown)
I'm going with the actor from Captain Phillips. Brilliant. I both hated and loved the character at the same time. I felt compassion for him. I felt his pain.
The Director: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
[Michael] Fassbender did his thing. Jonah [Hill] continues to surprise, but there was a weight to what Jared did that you can't deny. He was brave to do that role and to commit completely.
The Screenwriter: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
It's a transformative performance that has so much empathy. It felt unperformed, inhabited by someone with an understanding of the LGBT community.
The Cinematographer: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Jared is an actor who has not blossomed until this movie. It's a very risky performance that you could so easily be ostracized for.
ALL CROPS: Best Supporting Actress
The Actress: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
I've always adored Sally Hawkins. For me, it's the performance that has the depth, the importance, and the shine. And she had to work with Mr. Woody Allen — that's another reason I'm going to check the box for Sally.
The Producer: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
She gave that character so much charisma, and she was so believable and interesting to watch. I couldn't take my eyes off of her.
The Director: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave (shown)
That's a hard one for me. Lupita is just so tortured in that role, then you hear her interviewed and, oh my God, she's so different. But I'm also a big Jennifer Lawrence fan. I've got to go with Lupita.
The Screenwriter: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
The Lupita performance is brave and stunning and unlike anything we've ever seen. Part of that is we've never seen her before. She is a blank slate and she does feel like that person.
The Cinematographer: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Not because she's gorgeous. Whatever she does, even when she does nothing, it's amazing. You are looking at this beauty: this round face, these big eyes. And the character she played was great. It was a caricature, but I wanted to watch and watch.