Roger L. Simon

Confessions of an Oscar Voter


Most folks on the right can’t stand the Oscars — and with justification. The movies of recent years — not the movies of the Frank Capra era — have been a collection of banal anti-American tracts, subtle or otherwise. There are exceptions, of course, but that’s the main thing.

Meanwhile, a few of us who vote in the Oscars — including some very distinguished fellows like David Mamet and Tom Stoppard (arguably the best writer in the English speaking world) — don’t adhere to the sophomoric liberal politics. But we still have to vote in these things.

So, like all the other six thousand or so Academy members from Sean Penn to Matt Damon, we have to wade through the annual onslaught of screeners to determine who wins the vaunted Oscar. (You can condemn it all you want, but it’s probably a better known prize than anything but the Nobel and even that….)

This year there has been a certain amount of libo-babble (to coin a term). The Butler is a salient example of what one might call Oprah Pix, the bathos-laden quasi-historical tale of a White House butler featuring Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan (’nuff said). Damon’s anti-fracking Promised Land is another piece of babble the Academy seems to be ignoring.

Indeed by and large the LQ (liberal quotient) hasn’t been as egregious as in previous years. (The fine 12 Years a Slave should not be counted as liberal propaganda because no one could dispute its overall historical accuracy.) The times, as one semi-conservative singer once said, may be a changin’. In fact, there was even a movie that celebrated American bravery in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor. (Yes, I voted for it — in nominations anyway.)

This year the voting, like so many other things, has moved online. But the Academy membership (Matt Damon notwithstanding) is rather geriatric, so there has been a fair amount of panic about whether they will actually be able to figure out how to vote. An 800 number has been calling us frequently to remind us of our duty. In fact, the Academy has been more assiduous in getting out the vote than I can remember the Democrats or Republicans ever being. (Of course, I live in a district that votes about six percent Republican — so who bothers?)

Anyway, if you’re asking who I voted for number one for Best Picture (I know you’re dying to know!), I’m not supposed to say. It’s a secret ballot and only Price Waterhouse and the NSA know for sure.

But okay, since Edward Snowden has blown everything, I might as well tell you and risk a lifetime in Moscow. I didn’t vote for a movie that is the least bit political. (Well, tangentially, if you insist.) In fact, I voted for a movie I didn’t want to watch and only shoved in my BluRay player at the very last minute — that sex, drugs and rock and roll… emphasis on the drugs… extravaganza Marty Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. That dude can direct. Yes, I know it’s obscene and has more f-words than a thousand “knockout” beatings, but sue me. At least it kept me awake. (BTW, this was for the nominations, due January 8. The two-tiered Academy voting process is such that members can nominate up to five pictures in their category — in my case writing — and best picture. We all get to vote for everyone after the nominations.)

If you’re interested in some of my opinions on some of the other films, plus a few more snarky observations about the Academy, you can find them on City Journal here, here, and here. But before you check them out, let me say one thing, and I really mean it. They are only my opinions. Just because I have written movies, doesn’t make my views more valid than yours, even slightly. We’re all members of the audience in the end and we like what we like.

So argue with me if you wish, but don’t expect me to argue back. Groucho Marx said it best, as he did with many things (after all, he had writers): “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”

(Artwork created using multiple images, including photo of Academy Award by Joe Seer /