Oscar Tactic No. 1: Show your hunger.
It might seem obvious, but the best way to win an Oscar is to let people know you want to win an Oscar. “It’s like throwing a birthday party,” explains our first Oscar consultant. “You can’t tell people that you don’t want [any presents] and then be shocked that they don’t give them to you.”
One marketing expert relates an example of a campaign that failed as a result of just such an approach: Julie Christie’s non-campaign for Best Actress in 2006’s Away From Her. “She told us, ‘I’ve never been a campaigner,’” relates this insider. “She kind of disappeared; she went back to Europe — and she lost. Whereas Marion Cotillard [nominated for La Vie En Rose] moved into the Chateau Marmont and let everyone know she wanted it. I remember saying to her, ‘You might want to come back here.’”
This year, two actors who have traditionally eschewed campaigning — Lincoln’s Daniel Day Lewis and Silver Lining Playbook’s Robert De Niro — worked overtime to court Academy membership, for Best Actor and Supporting Actor respectively.
“Supporting Actor this year is interesting,” opines one studio chief. “Harvey practically got De Niro to wash cars on Santa Monica Boulevard.” Adds the first consultant, “De Niro hasn’t done much glad-handing and personal appearances in his career. But this guy, for a supporting role, is everywhere — including that Hollywood International Film Festival. On Goodfellas, he was nowhere to be seen. I remember studio publicists were driven to drink over his nonchalance.”
Notes the head of marketing at another studio without skin in the Best Actor race, “Daniel Day-Lewis is going to win no matter what, but he also campaigned more than he ever has before. He was out here a lot — I’ve never seen him doing it before — probably because it’s such a tough field of competitors, you know?”
The studio chief does, however, warn of the dangers of someone of their pedigree being seen as wanting it too badly. “If it doesn’t work, then that’s bad, because you’ve sold out shaking hands and kissing babies; when Academy members see noneffective glad-handing, people avert their eyes.” Rough town!
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