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How to Win an Oscar

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For Best Director:

  1. Make a LOT of films and the Academy will eventually award you for your contributions to the arts, especially if you suddenly change genres or film something out of your usual norm, i.e. Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan.
  2. Be an actor turned director like Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, or Kevin Costner who have all won.
  3. Be the hot new director making your directorial debut, a.k.a Sam Mendes for American Beauty.
  4. Hope that your film wins Best Picture, and you’re more than likely to receive an award as well.
  5. Be a man; as of yet, a woman has never won Best Director

For Best Actor:

  1. Transform you’re features. Robert DeNiro gained over 50 pounds to play boxer Jake LaMotta in his award winning role in Raging Bull.
  2. Play a nut or someone who’s mentally handicapped or unstable (Jack Nicholson did this for both of his Best Actor awards for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and As Good as It Gets, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Geoffrey Rush in Shine, and Laurence Olivier in Hamlet).
  3. Or play someone with a physical disability like Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, and Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Think the hunchbacked Richard V; a physical impairment can give an actor great leverage.
  4. Star in a biography and play a real person. Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur, Robert DeNiro’s Raging Bull, F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus and Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII.
  5. Do two good films in a row or somewhat consistently and you’ll eventually get handed an award to make up for not getting one for a previous role. It’s the only way to explain Russell Crowe winning for Gladiator

For Best Actress:

  1. If you’re pretty then play someone less attractive. Lose the makeup, and show the lines (Sally Field in Places In The Heart, Nicole Kidman in The Hours).
  2. Take on an accent! Meryl Streep did and won for Out of Africa and Sophie’s Choice, so did Francis McDormand for Fargo.
  3. Be Katharine Hepburn — after all, she’s won four of these!

Keep in mind: At times best actress and supporting actress characteristics can be interchangeable.

For Best Supporting Actress:

  1. Play a prostitute or a woman of the night. It worked for Kim Basinger in LA Confidential and Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite. Also Jane Fonda turned her hooker role into a Best Actress peformance in Klute.
  2. Be an older actress or a has-been making a comeback after a couple of decades. Geraldine Page finally got her award in the ’80s for A Trip to Bountiful. 1939’s Scarlet O’Hara winner, Vivian Leigh, came back in the critics favor in 1951 with A Street Car Named Desire. The same happened with Ingrid Bergman who came back to Hollywood after a prolonged absence to win for Murder on the Orient Express. At the very least, this will be sure to get you a nomination like it did for Gloria Stuart in Titanic.
  3. Don a costume like Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love.
  4. Play a cross-dresser like Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously.

Tara S. is a writer for Film School Rejects[ADBLOCKHERE]

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  • For Best Supporting Actress, when playing a prostitute it helps if you are playing against perceived type. For example both Donna Reed and Shirley Jones won their Oscars for playing brothel prostitutes.

  • Baronius

    Hilarious. There are so many examples in each category. And what about the multi-category winners? Charlize Theron playing an ugly hooker, or Gwynyth Paltrow with an accent and a period costume, playing a man in Shakespeare in Love.

    Another rule for actors: do comedies, but don’t expect awards for them. Then make the jump to drama. It’ll get you at least a nomination, maybe a win.

    Tom Hanks (multiple)
    Robin Williams (multiple)
    Will Smith
    Alan Alda
    Woody Harrelson
    Jaime Foxx