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Breaking Down the Oscar Campaign



If you thought the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns were ugly, you’re going to need industrial strength Valium to get you through the next three months of Oscar campaigns!

They are going to be every bit as ugly – just with prettier people.

Love Emma Stone? You won’t by the time you’ve heard/seen her 3,586th interview as the perky, relateable, fun, fun, fun girl next door who just happens to be looking for that validation from a little, naked, gold man. If you love movies, there will be no escape from the relentless ‘love me’ pleas of those on the campaign trail.

Personally I’m all for it. I’m happy to publicly admit that I am an awards junkie. If there was an awards junkies anonymous group to help me, I wouldn’t attend even if friends staged an intervention. See, I’m fine with all the emotive mess awards season brings. Sure, I get angry when it looks like my favourite is going to be elbowed out in favour of an inferior candidate, but after vowing to never read another awards ‘expert’s’ biased analysis or get into a heated argument with someone again about why X absolutely deserves the win and Y doesn’t, I willingly take another hit and get back into the fray.

I’ve followed the Oscars since I was a teen. Before social media, we all know the world was all rainbows and unicorns, so, for years I naively believed that all you had to do to win an Oscar was to make a great movie or give a great performance. Now I’m older and I’ve wised up to how much of a ‘business’ the film industry is, I realise that nominations and wins are as much to do with campaigning as actual greatness. You can even hire awards ‘strategists’ to help you campaign.

Having seen many awards seasons from close up, it seems to me that the Oscar dance is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a lengthy, obstacle strewn journey that can prove more difficult and treacherous than Frodo’s attempts to reach Mordor. Just ask Nate Parker. In the midst of the hullabaloo about race and the Oscars he unveiled his film about slavery at Sundance in January of this year. Critics, desperate to appear politically correct, behaved like excitable judges on Strictly Come Dancing and declared the average film the Oscar front runner. The path for triumph was set.

Shortly after, however, grim details emerged of a rape trial in the actor/ director’s past. Parker’s comments in interviews about the subject did him no favours and the industry began to hastily search for another ‘black’ film to latch on to. In short, Parker tripped up early in his Oscar shuffle and is now unlikely to recover, especially since the film also stumbled at the U.S. box office.

Meanwhile, in the best actress category, the ever popular Amy Adams (5 time nominee, this year’s Leo DiCaprio) and the ever popular Emma Stone are foxtrotting across the globe in a series of never ending public appearances to establish who will prove the more popular come February.

It’s both exasperating and fun to watch and work out the campaign methodology studios and actors choose to use. In the coming weeks, like a David Attenborough movie, I will be looking out for new, undiscovered methods but here are three I’ve spotted over the years:

  1. The Weinstein whammy. As brash, bold and unapologetic as the man himself, this method seeks to bludgeon voters into submission. It involves telling them a film is great, important, deserving. Then telling them again. And again. Until they run screaming and put their cross next to whatever they have been ordered to. This method, though undeniably in yer face, may have been discredited in recent years. It didn’t work at all well for Mandela: Long walk to Freedom and only got The Imitation Game nominations, no wins. It’s probably discredited because it worked so well for Shakespeare in Love and, well, now everyone pretty much regrets that.
  2. The Hathaway hype. Much as we love AnnE with an E, this method essentially involves hypnotising voters long enough for them to believe that some good, not necessarily great, performance/film is utterly amazing. By the time people wake up from the hypnotic state their vote has already been cast. And worse, AnnE has made a heartfelt but cringeworthy speech. This is a hit and miss method, however. Voters may just rise from their trance before they cast their vote and then anything could happen. Just ask Stallone. All ready to mumble his thanks and give a shout out to Aaadrianne! And up pops Mark Rylance.
  3. The stealth bomb method. These potential nominees don’t appear overly thirsty. They are not on every chat show. They are not papped daily with the loving spouse they will divorce immediately after the ceremony. They are not seen daily on paparazzi friendly strolls to buy coffee with the adorable children (by the way, don’t these multi millionaires own a coffee maker they could use in the privacy of their own kitchen?) they will forget when they go for that hot night with the nanny/fitness trainer/personal assistant. Instead these stealth bombers quietly attend all the parties where the important people will be. There they subtly turn on the charm. They hide their desperate longing for that little bald, gold man under a veneer of, ‘yes, it would be lovely to be recognised by my peers but it’s really not why I took this role of an overweight, paraplegic, blind, Holocaust survivor with multiple personalities and a prosthetic nose which hides my natural good looks,’ and pray that the voters play along.

Or of course there’s always the ‘be so amazing at your job they have no choice but to put your name in that envelope’ method.

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