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
Once you've used the above tips to get nominated, winning's a crapshoot. "Was I retarded enough?" "Did I French Jake Gyllenhaal hard enough?" "Did I smear the feces of exploitation upon the right dead person's legacy?" That's for the Academy to decide (apparently, by throwing darts at a spinning wheel of nominees' names). But if you're lucky enough to have been retarded/saliva-ey/disrespectful enough to win, you'll have to give a speech.
When doing so, remember one simple rule: lie. No one wants to hear the truth (that your broken childhood instilled such a deep need for attention in you that you wandered, longingly, to LA 15 years ago and started tonguing producers' groins for line-free parts opposite Mario Van Peebles). What they do want to hear is you expressing you deep thanks, tearfully and profusely, to at least two of the following people (even if you don't mean it):
As a rule, all good acceptance speeches hit two of these targets, but if you can convince people that you're thankful to all five of these people, the media will discuss your speech for literally days on end. Which is exactly what happened to Jamie Foxx, winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 2004, who tearfully performed his staged thanks to his late grandmother, Ray director Taylor Hackford, his agents, his daughter and, yes, Oprah Winfrey.
You'd have to be a moron (e.g., Billy Bush, et al) to believe that that this professional actor wasn't, in fact, acting in his acceptance speech. In contrast, below is the speech that would've been more truthful, but was wisely repressed:
"First, I want to thank Ray Charles for dying recently. Without his well-timed and highly publicized death, I wouldn't be standing here in front of you today. [Weeps, looks skyward] Thank you, Ray. I'd also like to thank random chance, for making me kind of look like Ray Charles. Well, not really that much like him, but, combined with the fact that Denzel was booked, and if you squint real hard, I'm close enough, right? Now, I know that giving an Oscar to someone for doing a really good impression basically means that Daryl Hammond is this century's Laurence Olivier, but ya'll can blow me. I impressioned the shit out of Ray Charles. I can do a mean Lionel Ritchie too, so I'll be back! I'm out!"
If you follow the above advice concerning your nomination, win and acceptance speech, you'll have a taught-bodied 19-year-old's hand down your pants/up your skirt at the Vanity Fair after party before you can say "You're on your way, kid-I know Steven Soderbergh."
But heavy petting and free champagne is just the beginning. The best part about winning an Oscar-and nailing the speech-is that you can go on to make a salary bigger than the gross domestic product of Austria just by spending a couple of weeks dicking around on the set of a big-budget action movie. Sure, you'll be terribly miscast, and, sure, you'll instantly squander the respect you've earned by nabbing that Oscar. But respect never paid for a garage full of sterling silver Thai-hooker-filled Bentleys, did it?
Let's look at the past three winners of the Best Actor Oscar, and the films they wisely cashed in on next.
WON FOR: The Pianist, 2003
SELL-OUT PAYDAY: King Kong
WHY HE DID IT: Because even as an Oscar-winner, he would never, ever be able to get within five feet of a woman as attractive as Naomi Watts. Oh, except for that time he mouth-raped Halle Berry.
WON FOR: Ray, 2004
SELL-OUT PAYDAY: Stealth
WHY HE DID IT: Because someone needed to foot the bill for his sexy-smooth, self-indulgent R&B album, which rose to No. 1 on the Billboard charts because the American public has impeccable taste in music.
WON FOR: Capote, 2005
SELL-OUT PAYDAY: Mission: Impossible III
WHY HE DID IT: Presumably, for a revolutionary combination of gastric bypass, skull-reduction and pretension-removal surgeries.
If, for some reason, the above advice doesn't nab you an Oscar and lead to a $20 million part in a mystery-asteroid-terrorist-disaster-thriller, remember one thing: there's always next year.
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