Sure, plenty of actors have been nominated because they were the right person for the right part at the right time. But if your crippling cocaine habit has decreased your patience level to zero, here are four quick, easy and time-tested ways to get the nod in a hurry and increase your chances of winning.
WHY: Because peer pressure works. If an Academy member doesn't vote for an actor playing a gay character, his uber-PC liberal Hollywood guilt will plague him for years.
EXAMPLES: Tom Hanks, Philadelphia (WON); Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry (WON); Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Stephen Rea, The Crying Game
WHY: Because if you're not talented, and the people making the film aren't talented, nobody will notice because you're invoking someone who really was talented.
EXAMPLES: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote (WON); Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; Will Smith, Ali; Ed Harris, Pollock
WHY: Because a guy like Denzel Washington-who's played everything from Othello to a naval officer-only gets nominated when he plays a criminal, a boxer or a slave.
EXAMPLES: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby (WON) (homeless ex-boxer); Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow (pimp); Halle Berry, Monster's Ball (WON) (single mother); Djimon Hounsou, In America (shirtless and crazy)
WHY: Because it's really easy and the critics eat it up. Invoke your sixth grade impression: just pretend like your trying to bite your ear, grunt a lot and sit back and wait to be nominated.
EXAMPLES: Sean Penn, I Am Sam; Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump (WON), Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade; Leonardo DiCaprio, What's Eating Gilbert Grape