Academy members' Oscar votes 'cast by their maids' says Barry Norman
It could explain why The Help received four Academy Award nominations; Oscar votes are often decided by Hollywood’s household maids, Barry Norman has claimed.
The veteran film reviewer told Radio Times: “There’s the question of whether all the voters actually saw all the films. It’s not unknown for some, especially the elderly, to get their maids to watch them on DVD and deliver their opinions.”
It is widely suspected that the 6,000-plus “motion picture professionals” who comprise the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences do not watch every film under consideration, as they are required to, before casting their vote.
Chris Martin once admitted that he filled in the form belonging to his then-wife, former Best Actress winner Gwyneth Paltrow. “I read the instructions, which is like you've got to put your top five in order,” he recalled. “I did get a say on that form. I got to put a vote in. I voted for Mickey Rourke.”
Writing ahead of Sunday night’s ceremony, Norman said: “Just being nominated for an Oscar is a victory in itself. It’s only when it comes to picking the winners that everyone votes in every category and the whole thing becomes little better than a crapshoot. Personal likes and dislikes come into play. You might vote for someone simply because he or she was nice to you on the set.”
Norman’s “maids” thesis may help explain the success of The Help, a 2011 American period drama about a young white woman and her relationship with two black maids, set during the Civil Rights era in 1963. The film secured four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress for Davis, Best Supporting Actress for Chastain, and a win for Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer.
Norman predicted a Best Actor win on Sunday for the Birdman star Michael Keaton. But he wrote: “For me, Keaton wasn’t even the best actor in Birdman: that was Edward Norton, who is up for best supporting player. Indeed, Keaton is no better than two British actors – David Oyelowo (Selma) and Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) – who were sadly overlooked for nominations.”