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Nicholas Freeman holds The Shape of Water, which tells the story of a mute woman who falls in love with a monster, and I, Tonya, which follows the life of Olympic skater Tonya Harding. Margot Robbie, leading actress in I, Tonya, was nominated for Best Actress. The Shape of Water was nominated for 13 Oscars, including Best Picture.

Inside the Oscars process: Nicholas Freeman’s perspective

Theater and photography teacher Nicholas Freeman shares what it’s like to participate in the voting process, what he looks for in films and actors

What are the different types of awards shows?

The three main awards that are associated with the film industry are the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and the Academy Awards.

Which one do you work with and what do you do for them?

I’m a part of the Screen Actors Guild, and I vote for what’s on the ballot, which is probably 20 different movies and about 10 to 15 TV shows. And I get to select the best actor for each category.

Do you like doing it or is it not worth the time?

I’m a film buff. I love watching films, I love films that are artistically challenging and artistically appealing. I’m not a huge fan of actions films like most teenagers are–not that I don’t respect them, but I just feel like the plot doesn’t develop through the action.

How many people do what you do?

I’m not sure about the answer, but I would guess around 5000.

Do the people who do what you do usually agree or disagree?

People disagree a lot because art speaks to people differently. And when you get to that level where we are celebrating the performances that are on that ballot, most people can agree that the people on the ballot are worthy of getting award.

What do you look for in a movie for it to be a winner?

I always look for truth. When you talk about truth as a actor, it’s whether you’re being truthful to the character. Are you as a actor totally committed  and making bold choices as a an actor for that particular character? Allison Janney, for example, she plays the mom in a movie called I, Tonya. It’s a story about Tonya Harding scandal that went on.  She will win this year; she’s already won two of the awards. I would place my money that she will win for best supporting actress, because she is so truthful and real. She makes bold choices that work within the realm of her character. It’s a icky awful character, but she pulls it off really, really well.

Can we get your pick for best picture and why?

For the Academy Awards they look at Best picture, which may not be the best acting. Usually you have the best directing and best acting going on. I would have to say there’s no real front runner for me. Get Out was  very well done. In many ways it spoke to me on a personal level, it really stuck with me. Another one of my favorites this year is a movie called Mudbound. It’s a film that was produced by Netflix, so it never hit the theaters. But for whatever reason, it qualified to be in the Oscars. So Mudbound is probably one of my favorites. It has to do with race relations and a unique perspective.

When they take a great story and show a different perspective on a certain topic like race relations in the south in the nineteen thirties or forties. We’ve seen so many movies from that time period, and this movie shows a unique perspective on it, and I always love that in a film.

Nicholas Freeman is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG). Each year, he judges the SAG awards, which evaluate and recognize outstanding films, directors, actors and more. Freeman  also teaches photography, theater and filmmaking.

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