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Oscar Voting Day One Takeaways: Robert Downey Jr. a Near-Unanimous Choice, Sandra Hüller Surges for ‘Anatomy of a Fall’

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After a year hit with Hollywood strikes and an early buzz positioning Christopher Nolan’s drama about the creation of the atomic bomb as a frontrunner, sentiments from more than a dozen Oscar voters on the first day of final voting revealed a strong backing for Nolan. “Nolan fucking deserves it,” an anonymous voter emphasizes to Variety, highlighting the widespread acclaim for Nolan’s direction and billion-dollar blockbuster.

Furthermore, Robert Downey Jr., a nominee for supporting actor, appears to be a strong frontrunner for his first Oscar, with a significant majority of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) voters indicating their support for him.

It’s important to note that many voters interviewed have yet to cast their ballots, and plan to do so over the weekend after watching more films. Also, this is merely a small sample of the nearly 10,000 eligible AMPAS voters. Nonetheless, Sandra Hüller’s performance in Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” has been hailed with passionate advocacy from voters despite her not being the presumed winner. “There’s no other performance that came close,” commented one voter, underscoring the impact of Hüller’s role in the French drama.

This scenario echoes the 2020 awards season when Anthony Hopkins won best actor for “The Father” in an unexpected victory over the late Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” raising the question of whether another surprise win could be on the horizon despite formidable frontrunners Lily Gladstone from “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Emma Stone from “Poor Things.”

Despite her acclaimed performance, Hüller has not won other major prizes and is notably absent from the SAG Awards nominations — a critical predictor for Oscar success. This lack of recognition places her at a severe disadvantage.

The industry is also grappling with a sense of unease exacerbated by the strikes and global strife. This mood reflects a desire among voters for films that inspire hope, a trend seen in recent Best Picture winners like “CODA” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Nolan’s film, centered on a figure associated with destructive power, enters this climate with mixed prospects.

This unease extends to the documentary and short film categories, traditionally the least viewed and most overlooked. One voter expressed frustration over the time commitment and the often depressing subject matter of these films.

The members are paying attention to the tea leaves left behind by other awards ceremonies. One member says they are asking themself as they are deciding between “Rustin’s” Colman Domingo or “Oppenheimer‘s” Cillian Murphy in best actor: “Am I wasting my vote or am I actually contributing to what the Academy should be?”

They opted for Domingo.

But one veteran voter credits the Academy for its commitment to the security and integrity of the online voting system. “Any time I click into a part of my profile and page, I have to authenticate again. Once you open your ballot, it gives you two hours to vote, and then it closes and you can’t go back in. They ain’t playing when it comes to this.”

Read some of the anonymous voters’ ballots below, presented in the order in which they vote on the Academy’s website. Final Oscar voting closes on Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. PT.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Voter’s Ballot #1: “There’s nothing that came close to being as good as ‘Oppenheimer’ or ‘American Fiction’ this year.”

Best Picture: “Oppenheimer” (1); “American Fiction” (2); “Poor Things” (3); “Maestro” (4); “The Holdovers” (5); “Anatomy of a Fall” (6); “Past Lives” (7); “Barbie” (8); “The Zone of Interest” (9); “Killers of the Flower Moon” (10)

Actor: Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”)

Supporting Actor: Ryan Gosling (“Barbie”)

Actress: Emma Stone (“Poor Things”)

Supporting Actress: Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”)

Animated Feature: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Cinematography: “Maestro”

Costume Design: “Poor Things”

Directing: Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”)

Documentary Feature: “To Kill a Tiger”

Documentary Short: “The ABCs of Book Banning”

Film Editing: “Oppenheimer”

International Feature: “Io Capitano”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Poor Things”

Original Score: “Oppenheimer”

Original Song: “I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie”

Production Design: “Oppenheimer”

Animated Short: “War is Over! Inspider by the Music of John & Yoko”

Live Action Short: “Knight of Fortune”

Sound: “Oppenheimer”

Visual Effects: “The Creator”

Adapted Screenplay: “Oppenheimer”

Original Screenplay: “Past Lives”

A24

Voter’s Ballot #2: “‘Zone of Interest’ has haunted me ever since I saw it…Carey Mulligan is incredible even though I didn’t like the movie.”

Best Picture: “The Zone of Interest” (1); “Oppenheimer” (2); “Poor Things” (3); “Killers of the Flower Moon” (4); “Barbie” (5); “Anatomy of a Fall” (6); “American Fiction” (7); “The Holdovers” (8); “Maestro” (9); “Past Lives” (10)

Actor: Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”)

Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”)

Actress: Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”)

Supporting Actress: America Ferrera (“Barbie”)

Animated Feature: “The Boy and the Heron”

Cinematography: “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Costume Design: “Poor Things”

Directing: Jonathan Glazer (“The Zone of Interest”)

Documentary Feature: “20 Days in Mariupol”

Documentary Short: Abstain

Film Editing: “Oppenheimer”

International Feature: “The Zone of Interest”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Poor Things”

Original Score: “Poor Things”

Original Song: Abstain

Production Design: “Poor Things”

Animated Short: “Pachyderme”

Live Action Short: Abstain

Sound: “The Zone of Interest”

Visual Effects: “Godzilla Minus One”

Adapted Screenplay: “The Zone of Interest”

Original Screenplay: “May December”

“Anatomy of a Fall”
Courtesy Everett Collection

Voter #3: “That clip of Sandra Hüller’s fight with her husband is the scene of the year.”

Best Picture: “The Zone of Interest” (1); “Oppenheimer” (2); “Anatomy of a Fall” (3); “Poor Things” (4); “Past Lives” (5); “Killers of the Flower Moon” (6); “Barbie” (7); “The Holdovers” (8); “American Fiction” (9); “Maestro” (10)

Actor: Colman Domingo (“Rustin”)

Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”)

Actress: Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”)

Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”)

Animated Feature: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Cinematography: “Oppenheimer”

Costume Design: “Poor Things”

Directing: Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”)

Documentary Feature: “Bobi Wine: The People’s President”

Documentary Short: “The Last Repair Shop”

Film Editing: “Oppenheimer”

International Feature: “The Zone of Interest”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Poor Things”

Original Score: “Oppenheimer”

Original Song: “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie”

Production Design: “Barbie”

Animated Short: “War is Over! Inspider by the Music of John & Yoko”

Live Action Short: “The After”

Sound: “The Zone of Interest”

Visual Effects: “Godzilla Minus One”

Adapted Screenplay: “American Fiction”

Original Screenplay: “Anatomy of a Fall”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”
AppleTV+

Voter #4: “‘Killers’ was way too damn long…I wish Celine Song was nominated for directing.”

Best Picture: “Anatomy of a Fall” (1); “Past Lives” (2); “The Holdovers” (3); “Barbie” (4); “American Fiction” (5); “The Zone of Interest” (6); “Poor Things” (7); “Killers of the Flower Moon” (8); “Oppenheimer” (9); “Maestro” (10)

Actor: Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)

Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”)

Actress: Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”)

Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”)

Animated Feature: Abstain

Cinematography: “Poor Things”

Costume Design: “Barbie”

Directing: Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”)

Documentary Feature: Abstain

Documentary Short: Abstain

Film Editing: “Anatomy of a Fall”

International Feature: “The Zone of Interest”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Poor Things”

Original Score: “Oppenheimer”

Original Song: “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie”

Production Design: “Barbie”

Animated Short: Abstain

Live Action Short: Abstain

Sound: “Oppenheimer”

Visual Effects: Abstain

Adapted Screenplay: “Barbie”

Original Screenplay: “Past Lives”

Courtesy of Focus Features

Voter #5: “I thought ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ were masterpieces…I always love Alexander Payne’s movies and Paul deserves to win for what he did.”

Best Picture: “Oppenheimer” (1); “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2); “The Holdovers” (3); “Poor Things” (4); “Anatomy of a Fall” (5); “Maestro” (6); “The Zone of Interest” (7); “Past Lives” (8); “Barbie” (9); “American Fiction” (10)

Actor: Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”)

Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”)

Actress: Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”)

Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”)

Animated Feature: “Elemental”

Cinematography: “Oppenheimer”

Costume Design: “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Directing: Martin Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”)

Documentary Feature: “20 Days in Mariupol”

Documentary Short: Abstain

Film Editing: “Oppenheimer”

International Feature: Abstain

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Maestro”

Original Score: “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Original Song: “Wahzhazhe” from “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Production Design: “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Animated Short: Abstain

Live Action Short: Abstain

Sound: “Maestro”

Visual Effects: “The Creator”

Adapted Screenplay: “Oppenheimer”

Original Screenplay: “The Holdovers”