For Your Consideration: Why Are Oscar Campaigns So Shameless?
For whatever reason, this awards season seems aggressively heavy with campaigns featuring actors and producers literally begging to be recognized by the Academy. As always, the notorious Harvey Weinstein has been quite active in campaigning on behalf absolutely everything (male, female, and vegetable -- the latter including Bradley Cooper) that his production money has touched this year, especially when it comes to Silver Linings Playbook and (to a lesser degree) Django Unchained. Old Harvey wants it bad this year, and he's dying to pull off a threepeat at the Oscars after the consecutive Best Picture victories of The King's Speech and The Artist. While these are indeed worthy movies, the sad fact of the matter is that Harvey's influence matters much more than quality when it comes to awards.
These sorts of Oscar-begging tactics are nothing new, of course. Back in the day, John Wayne and Chill Wills groveled for The Alamo, and Margaret Avery campaigned hard for The Color Purple. More recently, we watched Melissa Leo purchase her own campaign for her role in The Fighter, and Brad Pitt played the gossip game by giving interviews about buying Angelina Jolie an engagement ring and teasing marriage in hopes of bringing home the Best Actor award for his Moneyball role.
This season, however, the shameless farce of Oscar hunting seems even more obnoxious than usual.
That is, Anne Hathaway has made no secret of her self-proclaimed Oscar worthiness for her work in Les Miserables. The Academy loves a painful self-transformation, so Anne has made sure to talk a lot about her weight loss and major hair cut that she endured to play Fantine, and she even "accidentally" flashed her beav for some extra attention. Nothing like going that extra mile, right? Similarly, Ben Affleck has bitten the bullet and uncharacteristically decided to play up a family man reputation in his bid for a Best Director nomination, which he (fairly or not) did not receive. Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix is currently leading the anti-campaign side of things of showing up to the Oscar luncheon looking like sh*t since he received a nomination a few months after bashing the Academy and saying that the Oscars are "total, utter bullshit." Some might actually say that Phoenix's blatant apathy is a form of campaigning in and of itself.
I'll admit that I receive more than a bit of amusement to see these financially successful, coddled, entitled actors groveling and humiliating themselves all for the sake of a silly, gold-plated statuette. All they want more than anything else is the approval of their peers, but where has an Oscar really gotten anyone anyway?
Look at Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s careers these days. Nicole may very well have received a Golden Globe nomination for The Paperboy, but she had to pee on Zac Efron to get it -- because it was the only way to distract the Hollywood Foreign Press from the fact that she cannot move a muscle on her entire face. This year, Halle starred in a silly shark movie called Dark Tide and the overwrought, financially disastrous Cloud Atlas. And Cuba? I have no idea what he's been doing and can't be bothered to even look it up because his downward career trajectory depresses the hell out of me. One moment, he was yelling, "Show me the money!" and the next, he was starring in Daddy Day Camp. Enough said, right? Then look at Gary Oldman, who's never won an Oscar but is still one of the best bloody damn actors in the business.
About a decade ago, even the almighty Bill Murray fell prey to the awards race following his role as Bob Harris in Lost in Translation and recently admitted the following: "The one time I got a bunch of prizes, I just assumed I'd win them all. Because I'd been winning them all. I really saw something in myself and I thought, 'Oh, my God. I really did want that thing!' Some part of me was disappointed that I got tricked into thinking it was important." Bill fucking Murray, people. If he can get suckered in, is there any hope for the rest of Hollywood?
But again, this is nothing new. This will happen again next year too. And the year after that. And so on.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.