This post originally appeared on the Film Experience.
Let the Oscar balloting begin. Academy members can start nominating their favorites today, Dec. 30. I won’t barrage AMPAS members with requests other than these three wishes:
1. Please ignore precursors. Surprise us!
The precursor bodies make terrible mistakes in trying to predict you (SAG & Critics Choice in particular this year are just a mess of lazy “what will the academy vote for?” impulses rather than searching for what constitutes great work). Two fine movies off the top of our heads that nobody expects you to vote for this year but why the hell shouldn’t you: Sicario and Tangerine. People also seem to agree that you won’t get behind stories about women but we know you have it in you. The public is enjoying reliving 1977 because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens but remember in 1977 how 80 percent of your Best Picture lineup was about women? Good times! I mean, why shouldn't you vote for something as gentle, resonant, and well-modulated as Brooklyn, for example?
2. Remember that love stories require two leads.
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are a beautiful team in Carol—so don’t separate them in two different categories. Think of the classic screen couples (Gone With the Wind, The Way We Were, Titanic, It Happened One Night, Casablanca, Coming Home). In none of those romantic dramas do people pretend one movie star is “supporting” the other movie star. Be reasonable and put an end to greedy campaign strategies that make the very notion of awards seem crassly opportunist when the conversation should be edifying and fun. And love stories are love stories are love stories whether the couple is straight or LGBTQ. (See also: The Danish Girl.)
3. Most ≠ Best
This isn’t just about the acting categories! How about a deserved nod here or there that you could never call “Most” but could definitely argue “Best”? Three examples of many: The production design of Room (a top-notch technical achievement but also emotionally intelligent and a true creative challenge); the visual effects of Ex Machina (there are no grand set pieces, sure, but damn if these effects aren't a master class and hugely impressive in comparison to the typical CGI shenanigans of blockbusters like Jurassic World); and the original score of Steve Jobs (unusual, contemporary, and creatively retro too).