Secret Oscar Voter #6: Ballot exposed with ‘Chicago 7’ for Best Picture, Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman for leads

Here in the final stages of the 2021 Oscars season, several Academy Awards voters told Gold Derby who they voted for — and why. They asked us not to reveal their identities, but they were otherwise eager to share their views of the year’s best films. Now that voting has concluded, we’ll share a few with you. The comments below by Voter #6 for each category are part of the thought process in choosing these potential winners.

BEST PICTURE: “The Trial of the Chicago 7
If there was a write-in ballot, I would put “Ma Rainey.” My choice instead is kind of the studio picture of the year. Many of the other films are great but remind me more of independent films. My tastes in rewarding films tend to go with ones that can please a large number of audience members. This film has the scope and size even though it’s a world where we’re kept in houses and watching on little screens. In a better world “Chicago 7” would have been the highest-grossing film. Second place is “Promising Young Woman.” Third place is “Minari.”

BEST DIRECTOR: David Fincher (“Mank”)
I know that Chloe Zhao has been winning a lot of the awards and she really accomplished something traveling around the country making this independent movie. But I’m a big fan of the old-world making of “Mank.” David Fincher has been making great ones for years and let us enjoy a two-hour black-and-white movie about a drunk writer who almost kills himself. It depicted that period visually in a beautiful way.

BEST ACTRESS: Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
I came down at the last minute to Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan. Both of them gave virtuoso performances. It’s a Carey I’ve never seen before after watching her work over the years. But Viola just commands the screen, and in a tight race where I liked “Ma Rainey” so much, she would be my final choice.

BEST ACTOR: Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
It’s a really tragic story with such a talented young actor dying. All that aside, he was just amazing in “Ma Rainey,” one of my favorite pictures of the year. I’m disappointed it didn’t get into the Best Picture race.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
It came down to the great Glenn Close, who gives another amazing performance, and Yuh-Jung Youn in “Minari,” who was so touching. It was almost like watching a great silent movie performance with her expressions and their impact and power. But Glenn has had a career filled with daring performances, in “Sunset Boulevard” on Broadway and “Fatal Attraction,” and now she shows up in a movie looking like Mammy Yokum with an amazing physical transformation.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
He’s been my favorite in this category for a long time. What he did in that picture standing out in an amazingly strong ensemble was truly a remarkable feat. Then you weigh that against playing Borat and all the other comic characters. For him to give a powerful, nuanced performance was just shocking to me that he could do that.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller (“The Father”)
It’s a tough one for me because “Nomadland” to me is almost like a documentary. The true success of the film is that it feels like a real-life situation with only two professional actors in the whole movie. The “Borat” movie is a lot of improv with reacting to circumstances, so I eliminated them. Both of the play adaptations were well done, with simple stories in unusual situations.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
It’s hands-down with some of the best writing and a master of words. I’m a huge fan of his work in all of his films. Each one seems to get a little better than the one before. I tend to listen to language in screenplays.

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