How To Get Snubbed By the Academy: A Step by Step Plan

You are a Recognized Hollywood Talent!  Critics and audiences adore you. Studios are pleased with your box office returns.   The cinematic world is your oyster!

But you’re also a rebel. As you stroll about the town, you keep hearing people tell you that you’ll win an Oscar someday. You don’t want that. How many Hollywood Talents have faded into obscurity after receiving that gold statue? Too many. You don’t want to be forgotten and derided like them. What’s a Hollywood Talent to do? Have no fear! Just follow this handy step-by-step guide to ensuring an Academy snub, and you’ll never be a Cuba Gooding Jr. or a John Madden.

1. Avoid Being Named George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood

This step is an easy one.  If you want to avoid an automatic nomination, just don’t be one of these three golden idols, who could probably film each other reading the phone book, and score a triple nomination threat of Best Picture/Director/Actor/Actress.

2. Be Too Young, Pretty, and New.

The Academy grapples with this every year, unable to decide if they want reward dewy faces (à la Michelle Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow) or deny them (Ryan Gosling, Leonardo DiCaprio).  Mixed with this uncertainty is a feeling that these upstarts just haven’t put in the time and effort to deserve a nomination against some aged great they refused to reward when he/she was young and pretty. (Peter O’Toole, Cary Grant.)  You’re safe if you’re exceptionally good looking and fresh, as long as you don’t go grabbing for gold with a prosthetic nose or weight gain.

3. Be Very Misanthropic, Nilhistic, and Bleak

The Academy flirts with meanness, danger and violence in their nominations, but they don’t always have the guts to reward it. For every Daniel Plainview nomination, there’s a Charlize Theron (Young Adult), Gary Oldman (everything he was in, ever), Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) or Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet) who didn’t hear their names read.  If they did, à la Martin Scorsese or Darren Aronofsky, they watched other, happier films make off with the win every single time. It usually pays to offer redemption or a bittersweet ending. So don’t do that.

4. Do A Western

Only three Westerns have ever won Best Picture. Only three actors have ever won for performing in a Western. John Ford won plenty of Oscars, but never for one of his Westerns. The time has passed when a Hollywood Talent could make their name and living solely on horse operas, but if you want to completely avoid ever being nominated, you might try to do so.

5. Stick to Comedy

If there’s one thing the Academy can’t bring itself to nominate, it’s a laughfest. It’s not impossible to score a nomination, as Melissa McCarthy reminded us again this year, but generally you and your film are guaranteed to be left in the cold.  Stick to comedy, and you’ll never have to worry about writing an acceptance speech… unless you decide to write a super witty screenplay, and then you’ll be on your own.

6. Dedicate Yourself to Genre

OK, I’m echoing 4 and 5 a bit, but a surefire way to avoid unwanted award attention is to make or star in fantasy, science fiction, action, horror, or comic book adaptations. If you make movies that have tie-in deals with fast food chains and theme parks, you will never score a nomination for as long as you live, even if you are as elegant as Christopher Nolan or Nicolas Winding Refn.  Oh, there’s the occasional dark horse (Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight) but you’re safe if you have your own action figure or franchise big enough to have a box set.

7. Whip It Out

Films that are too frank with sexual content or nudity are generally excluded from the Oscars.  You would think being ballsy enough to nominate two X movies for Best Picture in 1969 and 1971 (with Midnight Cowboy taking it in ’69) would be enough to give every film a pass. But here we are in 2012, and Shame couldn’t score a single nomination. And would Viggo Mortensen’s naked knife fight in Eastern Promises have won even without competing against Daniel Day Lewis? Debatable.

8. Stay Away from the Weinsteins

Even your grandmother knows about the influence and power of the Weinsteins by now.  If they pick up your film, you are doomed to walk the red carpet. Doomed.  If your film is being shopped at a festival, do your best to sabotage it so they don't pick it up.

9. Make sure your film is released as early or as late in the year as possible.

The Academy has an extremely short memory. If you want to avoid being recognized for your cinematic achievements, make sure your film  comes out somewhere between January to August.  If you must do a late season release, make sure its in the last week or so of December, when all the screeners have already gone out, and critics have submitted their top ten lists to their publications.  You'll be sure to fall through the cracks then!

And finally, if you do all the above and still find yourself nominated…

10. Film or Say Something Hideously Offensive or Embarrassing

If you’re a director, prepare to compare yourself to a Nazi. If you’re an actor, make sure that embarrassing fat suit movie or long shelved romantic comedy comes out right before the Academy tallies its votes. The Academy’s memory is short and bitter, and they won’t hand you a nomination or a statue if you’ve sullied your gift in the weeks preceding!