Here are some proven techniques for Oscar front-runners to sabotage their own chances of sweet glory.
It’s that time of year again, where film lovers begin flocking to cinemas in order to figure out who will be nominated for an Oscar in 2014, for no real reason other than to say “I told you so” when the time rolls around. In recent years, it’s been an easy guessing game, with the steps to winning that glorious golden statuette having become relatively simple: Play a character with a disability or drinking problem. Leave your rom-com days behind you and surprise everyone with a dramatic turn in a historical biopic. Dramatically change your appearance to prove that you really ‘got into the role’.
Simply going by the name Leonardo DiCaprio can take you out of the Oscar race
But what about the steps taken by actors that knock their chances of winning completely? Sure, there are the obvious examples of how to take yourself out of the running, like having won the previous year and letting someone else have a chance (although occasionally that rule bends slightly), or simply if you go by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio. But what about the other, lesser thought-of examples? Like badmouthing the Oscars while you’re the strongest contender for an award.
Previously nominated for Best Actor for Walk the Line in 2005, Joaquin Phoenix described the awards experience as “one of the most uncomfortable periods of [his] life” and referred to the Oscars as “total, utter bullshit.” It wasn’t a comment that would never come back to haunt him at the best of times, but considering he said it last year during the early momentum for his performance in The Master, it pretty much ruled him out of winning. After that, the buzz surrounding Phoenix’s performance died down and despite being an early front-runner, he seemed to be swiftly relegated to the back of the line.
The aforementioned early hype appears to be another way to kill your chances of Oscar glory. Getting great reviews and media coverage in the summer? Forget it – unless your film is out in October or later, you’re not going to be taking home the trophy. Take a look back at the Best Actor nominees in 2012, for example: Brad Pitt and and Demian Bichir were both early contenders from the moment their films (Moneyball and A Better Life, respectively) were released in the summer of 2011. But by the time awards season came around, it had more or less become a two horse race between Jean Dujardin and George Clooney for their respective roles in The Artist and The Descendants, both late November releases.
Getting great reviews and media coverage in the summer? Forget it – you’re not going to be taking home the trophy
It’s also interesting that the USA distribution rights for The Artist – for which Jean Dujardin was the eventual winner in the Best Actor category – were bought by the Weinstein Company, which has basically dominated the awards season over the last few years. In Hollywood terms, backing from the Weinsteins equals an almost guaranteed win; it’s no coincidence that the two strongest contenders for Best Actress in 2012 were Michelle Williams and Meryl Streep, both for films distributed by the Weinstein Company.
Then there’s always the ‘right film, wrong time’ card. Even if you’ve given the performance of a lifetime, if you end up in the same category as an actor who’s been snubbed several times over by the Academy before, your chances are zero. Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart was critically acclaimed, but the mere fact that it was ‘his turn’ instantly ruled out other worthy winners.
The predictions for the 2014 Oscar winners has already begun, with Cate Blanchett (for her turn as a modern day Blanche DuBois in Blue Jasmine) becoming a definite front-runner in the Best Actress category. Given the recent award winning patterns, it will be interesting to see how this year’s Oscars pans out. Will the excessive early hype in a non-Weinstein backed film have killed Blanchett’s chances? Or will the Woody Allen magic have worked once again for a strong female performance? I guess we’ll find out in February.
A word of positivity for all actors: if next year isn’t your year – don’t fret. Just make sure you give an arguably lesser performance, preferably in a tear-jerking drama, in a film set for release during the winter of 2014. Or change your name to Meryl Streep. Either one will do.
Featured image: Columbia Pictures
Inset images: The Weinstein Company; The Weinstein Company