So, you are an actor. But your self-esteem has plummeted, and you realize the only way you can be at all satisfied with yourself is by winning the approval of Hollywood’s most elite members. If you win an Oscar, surely you will be happy. I mean, what could be more important than that small little trophy that says definitively: you are the best artist.
Except one problem: being the best artist doesn’t seem to be working. Shockingly, doing good work and being true to yourself as an artist has gotten you no closer to a trophy. Congrats, you have come to the right place. In this step by step, definitive guide to winning an Oscar, we outline the main things you need to do right now to stand on a stage with a bunch of rich, powerful elites applauding you. Your work may speak truth to power, but isn’t it nice when power speaks to you and tells you how great you are?
Follow this simple to use, easy to follow guide and I have no doubt you will be winning an Academy Award in no time!
Step 1: Follow a Set of Criteria when Choosing Your Role
Forget about choosing work you personally connect with. Forget about subtlety. There are a couple of main things that are guaranteed to get you attention with Oscar voters. Make sure your role hits one of these categories:
Real life historical figure: Yes, people love impressions. Academy voters love to go “oh, look that guy is doing the same thing that that other guy did” and then throw awards at them. Do an impression.
Characters with huge weight shifts: Hollywood can’t get enough of people going through huge weight gains or losses. The cool part about it is your work is done once you achieve this transformation. It doesn’t matter how good you are at “acting” because you have already won an Oscar. Those expensive trainers paid by the studio will be very proud.
Gritty period piece characters: Weep a lot, wear crazy costumes, and brood by the fireplace. An Oscar has never come so easily.
Characters with identities you don’t share: Hollywood loves stories about non-heterosexual couples. But Hollywood also loves when those couples are played by exclusively heterosexual actors.
Step 2: Make Your Acting Feel Effort-ful
Gone are the days when acting should be effortless. People want to see all the effort you have put in. So, make sure to constantly tell them. Don’t let the work speak for itself. Don’t let your process go unnoticed. Tell them about how many hours you had to spend in the gym or eating. If that doesn’t work, mention that you went “method” and never broke character. Better yet, show how hard you are working while on screen. Scream, over-the-top cry, whatever you got.
Step 3: Nail Your Timing
Academy voters are fickle people. In the summer, they seem to be too busy going out and lounging on the beach to be bothered watching films. In December, they must be drunk on Peppermint Schnapps to get through anything. Fall is when you want to release. For some reason, this is the only time Academy members watch movies.
Step 4: Engage in Some Light Bribery
I’m not saying blackmail or anything. There are a few ways to go about this that seem to be acceptable given current Hollywood standards. For instance, maybe you need to generate Oscar buzz with a Golden Globe nomination. Well, go ahead and get your studio to fly the entire HFPA to Paris and you might just find “Emily in Paris” scoring a nod. See, it doesn’t even have to be that subtle!
How did “Shakespeare in Love” beat “Saving Private Ryan?” Miramax’s $15 million campaigning bill might have some of the answers.
Step 5: Appease the Powers that Be
It’s important to tow a really tight line in the content you make. One the one hand, it should feel like your film is saying something important, so voters feel like they are part of the change. But don’t go too far to make them uncomfortable. If you want to make a film about racism in America, take a page out of the “Green Book” and pretend you have solved racism.
Step 6: Maybe Just Forget It?
This is starting to seem like a lot of work, and very little of it has to do with artistic merit. Maybe, just accept that the award is only as good as the people and the process picking the award and that art can exist in the absence of a trophy. Or throw yourself into a never-ending battle of self-worth. To each their own.