How to win an Oscar…
If you’ve followed our previous guide on how to become a star, congratulations! You should very well be on your way to stardom. And if you’ve been staying out the party scene, contemplated adopting an orphan, and left and rejoined the Kabbalah faith, the next logical step is for you to win an Oscar.
“But how?” you may ask. Winning an Oscar takes time, effort, and overcoming a bias for lengthy dramas that you’d probably fall asleep making, never mind watching.
Or is it as hard as it looks? Here are some ways, backed by highly unscientific data, to get your name on the ballot. ¤ C.Ho.
Be British. By default, this is one of those non-negotiable things. If you’re not British, you’re out of luck, because it’s commonly known that if a British person is nominated for an Oscar (and by British person we mean Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Emily Watson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent or Rachel Weisz), everyone else in that category is screwed. But all hope is not lost: if you’re just emerging onto the scene, you can reinvent yourself as a British Hollywood transplant. Just remember to hire a dialect coach so you don’t end up sounding like a lazy version of Madonna.
Play someone with an accent. If you can’t be British, play one on the big screen. Alternatively, any other accent besides North American will do. It’s a known fact that accents somehow show your depth and range, even if you only get to use it in the sequel to Borat.
Play someone “ugly.” In other words, be as glamorous as a potato sack, and make sure that you show up to the set after a wild night of partying with no make-up, no discernible hygiene routine, and/or are suffering from the flu. This is especially useful if you look like Charlize Theron or Cameron Diaz in real life. Like an accent, skimping on the foundation automatically earns you major thespian points.
Play against type. If you’re blonde, dye your hair brown. Take a bit role in a Woody Allen film. Try a musical. Pop up as a junkie (which, we hope, is not something that you’re privy to in real life) or an undercover cop with a drinking problem. Play a pregnant teen who gives up her baby for adoption. Taking a leap and trying something new will almost certainly be rewarded, unless you just happen to pick the wrong project. In that case, just try not to land a Razzie nomination.
Star in a biopic about someone that no one’s ever heard of. This way, you not only spread the word about the wonderful life of this extraordinary person, but you also get to show range by acting out the inevitable addiction/mental breakdown arc on your way to redemption. This is especially helpful if you’ve been previously typecast and need something to break out of your mold. If you can’t swing a convincing portrayal of a struggling musician or artist, try something sports-related like boxing or…actually, the Academy Awards voters only seem to like movies about boxing.
Get in a Clint Eastwood movie. Yes, Clint Eastwood is a pretty foxy man, if you’re into octogenarians, but he’s also responsible for directing Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, and Letters From Iwo Jima. Even if this isn’t the year for another Clint Eastwood Best Director nomination, you can be sure that your movie will garner some buzz.
If Clint has already cast, try calling up Paul Thomas Anderson or one of the Cohen brothers. Individually, these directors have had more misses than hits, but if you can land a role in both of their upcoming projects, your odds for being nominated in some category will rise. If you’re gunning for Paul Thomas Anderson, go for an ensemble piece where you’re playing the most dysfunctional character of the bunch. If you’re more of a Cohen type, choose the role with the least amount of dialogue.
Don’t ever star in a movie With Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Laura Linney, or Kate Winslet. Co-starring in a film with these actresses will guarantee that you’ll be trampled by any one of them as they make their way to the podium.
If you’re getting…more mature, find a movie role that reflects that. Play an aging actress, or a bored housewife who finds herself through raising wild horses. Anything to show Academy voters that you’re not afraid to take on a “vulnerable” role, even though you’re ready to punch your agent for sending you to yet another audition that requires you to play Zac Efron’s mother.
If you can’t get any screen time in a choice role, go for a Pixar or Disney film. There’s glory to be had in voicing a critter or awkward cartoon teenager in a Best Animated category and, although you won’t be technically accepting any awards, making any speeches, or even taking home a little statue for yourself…on second thought, this may not be the best way to go.
If you’ve heard that Lindsay Lohan, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Halle Berry, or Jim Carrey have signed on to your film, get out. Quick. This list of actors most certainly spells trouble for your project because this means that you’ll be starring in any one of these: a) a lifeless family drama about a spoiled brat who has a secret twin sister; b) a lifeless family comedy about a hapless family man with good intentions; c) a lifeless thriller that doesn’t make sense and may include a gratuitous topless scene; or d) a lifeless thriller where the main character walks around looking like he’s never heard of a shower.
At some point, sleep with Billy Bob Thornton. Hey, it worked for Angelina Jolie (off-screen) and Halle Berry (on-screen).
Find an ensemble film about racism, drug trafficking, euthanasia, or hobbits, and make sure it sends a clear message. Oscar voters love films that show the gritty side of life without masking the issues (and hobbits, apparently), and they love it even more if the fragmented stories somehow come together at the end. So if you can’t find a project that will showcase your sole talent, try sidling your way into a Best Picture win. Plus, this will almost always guarantee that none of your co-stars will get individual nominations.
If you find a script that seems virtually unwatchable but includes many tense scenes with little dialogue or, alternatively, wordy monologues that go on for pages, jump on it. Nothing can guarantee a faster nomination than a slow-moving film that grosses the equivalent intake of a lemonade stand run by a five-year-old. So the general public doesn’t get it, and neither do you, and you’ve only earned ten dollars from the film? Don’t fret – that’s the stuff the Oscars are made of.