Sunday, February 20, 2005

How To Win An Oscar

As you probably know, one week from today sees the presentation of this year’s Oscars… or to give them their full, fancy title, the 77th Annual Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Being a lover of movies, it’s an event that interests me every year but I seem to end up consistently disappointed that none of my favoured choices ever come out on top. I mean, how on earth did “Raiders of the Lost Ark” not triumph over “Chariots of Fire” in 1982 and how did “L.A. Confidential” lose to “Titanic” in 1998? Come to think of it, how did anything lose to “Titanic”?

So I’ve been doing some research to discover what it takes to be an Oscar winner in the hope of correctly predicting next Sunday’s conquering heroes. Trawling through the last 25 years of winners and losers in the Best Actor and Actress categories, (yes, I have too much time on my hands) it appears that your chances of victory are greatly improved if you encompass one of the following three distinctions or peculiarities into the portrayal of your character.

1. The character is/was an actual real, live person from… eh… real life.
2. The character has a serious physical or mental handicap or major addiction of some kind.
3. The actor/actress concerned has spent an inordinate amount of time in the make-up trailer.

The statistics don’t lie. The majority of the 50 winners analysed adopted one or more of these features on the road to victory. Who can forget Holly Hunter as mute musician Ada in “The Piano” (well, me actually) or Julia Roberts’s wonder-bra in “Erin Brockovich” and has it really been two years now since Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of novelist Virginia Woolf won, quite literally, by a nose?

The male fraternity has an even more impressive record. In fact, in a purple patch between 1988 and 1997, all ten winners drank copiously from the real-life/handicap/make-up (RHM) trough including a blind Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman”, an alcoholic Nicolas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”, a spastic quadriplegic Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot” and an autistic Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man”. (I’ve always thought Dustin Hoffman was jammy as hell to win in 1989 because Tom Cruise was miles better and wasn’t even nominated.)

And spare a thought for those who immersed themselves in the RHM method but came up short at the finishing line. Russell Crowe won for “Gladiator” in 2001 but should also have won a year later for “A Beautiful Mind”. Judi Dench undeservedly took home the statue for her Queen Elizabeth in 1998’s “Shakespeare In Love” only because she should have won the previous year for her Queen Victoria in “Mrs Brown”. But queen of the RHM losers is Meryl Streep who has fallen at the final hurdle on, count them, six separate occasions – “Silkwood”, “Out of Africa”, “A Cry in the Dark” ('the deengo's got moy baybee!'), “Postcards from the Edge”, “Music of the Heart” and “Adaptation”.

Unluckiest RHM loser of all is arguably John Hurt. Despite religious dedication to all three RHM directives to play John Merrick in “The Elephant Man”, he lost out to RHM supremo, Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta in “Raging Bull”, proving that it does sometimes pay to be the man who eats all the pies.

So, I’m now going to spend the next couple of days applying my soon-to-be-patented theory to this year’s nominees and beginning on Tuesday, will publish my findings during the run up to the ceremony itself. Oh, and if you’re looking for an early tip for next year, the actor who snaps up the lead role in “The Frank McAvennie Story” is an absolute shoe-in.


At 28/2/05 3:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that it's all rubbish, but I disagree with pretty much everything else. I think Russell Crowe is okay, but not great, I thought Hoffman deserved his prize, and I think Nicole Kidman is shite.


Post a Comment

<< Home