So you want to win an Oscar.
Maybe it’s for the prestige, maybe it’s for the approval. But whatever the case – you’re a hotshot young director, barely in your 60’s, and your shelf of awards just looks downright ridiculous with all those mediocre Golden Globes staring at you like King Kong’s gilded testicles.
If you’ve already tried a ritual goat sacrifice at the altar of Harvey Weinstein to no avail, fear not. After all, there are several ways to go about winning an Academy Award.
And to figure out exactly how that was achieved by today’s ‘greats’? Naturally, you turn to 2015’s list of nominees. But as pretty much everyone knows by now, the nominees for best anything this year are, let’s say, skewed in a certain direction…and color.
So, if you’re judging the art of how exactly you get nominated for an Oscar by 2015’s nominees alone, here is a fail-safe way to ensure you snag your little golden man.
How To Win An Academy Award
Yes, it needs a script. That’s a given. Now stop whining about it and get to work making your assistant write you one.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re a White Person
Considering how this year’s slate of nominees is the whitest since 1995, nothing is going to kill your chances for glory more than a high melanin count. You also have to be absolutely sure your cast is extraordinarily pale. Like, Cumberbatch-pale.
Sure, they gave that Iñárritu guy a nomination for directing Birdman, but you’re pretty sure that’s just because Michael Keaton’s overwhelming Caucasian-ness balanced out all the Hispanic vibes.
Step 2: Be a Man
I don’t mean this as some ‘toughen up’ metaphor. Kathryn Bigelow scored a Best Director win a few years back, so this officially means the Academy is not sexist, and never has been. But considering how she scored the award by making one of the most testosterone-soaked Oscar titles ever, you’re going to want to make really sure there’s not too many vaginas onscreen at any given time.
Remember, the pool of voters in the ‘Directing’ category is 91% male and 90% white, so be sure to keep the ladies in supporting roles…if you even need them at all.
Step 3: Stop Being Funny
Comedy is also a no-no.
It’s okay if your white male genius protagonist uses snarky humor to show how smart he is (like in both this year’s Best Picture-nominated stories about socially awkward pioneers in the fields of physics and computer science), but you can’t let the movie be too funny.
This is why The Lego Movie’s only nomination is for a song that is explicitly stated in the movie to be a repetitive claptrap that basically hypnotizes people into thinking it’s good. This is also why Steve Carrell had to wear the scariest face in cinema history to convince the Academy that he wasn’t going to bust out his Anchorman shtick. The industry of fun entertainment is serious business.
Step 4: Be Clint Eastwood
It doesn’t matter if he’s a politically gonzo, out of touch, jingoistic relic who already has enough Oscars to make Scrooge McDuck jealous. Clint Eastwood could make a documentary about himself eating a breakfast burrito on the toilet and the Academy would call it “daring”.
It doesn’t even matter if his movie uses plastic babies; Eastwood makes Oscar bait the way most of us make sandwiches.
Consider becoming Clint Eastwood if you haven’t already thought about it.
Step 5: Get Your “For Your Consideration” Copies Out Early
You’re also going to want to be well-connected in the industry and to get advance copies of your film to voters (who are preferably biased friends of yours) nice and early so that they don’t have any chance of forgetting about you. Look at Selma director, Ava DuVernay – she failed to do this and now she has to settle for a billion lesser awards and not a single Oscar.
The reality is that at the end of the day, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is just a big, snobby club. And like any club, rich white guys are unfortunately the ones making all the rules. Maybe they aren’t necessarily trying to keep minorities out of their special treehouse intentionally…but a lack of effort in bringing them in essentially creates the same effect (which tends to come off as hypocritical – especially when your little enclave claims to speak for the tastes and styles of an entire industry).
So as a last resort, consider making a quality film on a challenging subject that captures the imaginations of filmgoers the world over.
Or just put Meryl Streep in it.