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For Your Consideration: Why Are Oscar Campaigns So Shameless?

By Agent Bedhead | Think Pieces | February 13, 2013 | Comments ()


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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.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • e jerry powell

    Until I see the Weinstein brothers sucking AMPAS voter dicks like crack-whores (you know it's going to happen eventually), I will not believe that this trend has gone too far. I'll still find it annoying but relatively tame, considering the lengths that some people go to just to play in the reindeer games that are the entertainment industry. Too many actors I went to college with ended up second-tier porn stars.

  • ,

    Seems to me that anything a 9-year-old child and a 16-year-old girl who both never acted before can potentially win really can't be THAT big a deal. Tell me again about the "craft" and how HAAAAAAARD acting is?

  • None of them has ever been nor ever will be as desperate and embarrassing as Sandra Bullock's campaign for Blind Side.

  • poopnado

    It is so unseemly, this whole campaign thing. I can see how one would get sucked in, but it makes me lose respect for people who are decent actors. I don't want to see your movies if you're gonna shove your "talent" (aka "beav") in my face afterward.

  • par1964

    Anne Hathaway can shove her "talent" in my face any day ...!!!

  • The weirdest part is that it's the women that always push the hardest. Hathaway, Portman last year (she was PREGNANT when she won. COME ON!), even Kate Winslet was super embarrassing when she was pushing for The Reader. I wonder if it's all because of the competitiveness for good roles for women, and the idea (however wrong it's proven to be) that having an Oscar will get you even more or better roles. It's sad, anyway. Look at how much hatred Hathaway's gotten. And I love her, but even I'm getting a little sick of her.

  • BlackRabbit

    Some of it may be that women to some extent also have a shorter shelf-life in Hollywood than men. Perhaps they feel like they're under more pressure? That's just a top-of-my-head thought, not a solid theory.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It's rock solid. With an Oscar, they can get dibs on better projects.

  • Lyn

    No, women get punished more for pushing. Affleck has been a giant whore this season but is for some reason seen as a self-effacing underdog. Hugh Jackman way overshared when he was pushing for a nomination.

  • $2786243

    Actually, Affleck's been dogged plenty for his conveniently-rediscovered love for spending lots and lots of public quality time with his family.

  • $27019454

    I know what you mean. But wasn't that last-year's whole dude-bro thing between George Clooney and Brad Pitt and oh hey we're real life best pals and we're competing against each other ho ho hee hee aren't we charming-thing just GROTESQUE? All that wink-nudgy shit makes me gag. I was even grossed out back when Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty did it.

  • $27019454

    It's like you are leaving bait out for me with the big ol rictus-grinning HathawayHead up there on the banner pic.

    I don't care one thing about "the industry" or salaries or whatever. I don't care. I am the one who is supposed to be entertained by the movie. That's what I am in this big circle jerk. As such, I can only tell you what i see and how I feel about it. And actually, I don't see much because I kind of live under a rock. But these campaigns are sofa king stupid and embarrassing. It's retch-worthy.

    It's ironic that Sally Field who is so often misquoted as falling all over herself with the You Like Me! thing is actually the coolest cat in this whole dog/pony show. She's the best thing in the category and she acts like she could give a rat's.

  • par1964

    So, I watched Django Unchained ..... so what if I downloaded it and actually didn't see it in the theatre?? It ..... sucked ...... monkey ....... balls!!!!! Geez-us H. Christ on a stick ..... that was gawd-awful. DiCaprio was annoying, moreso than usual ..... Jamie Foxx spent too much time looking like a rock star wannabe doin his best Lenny Kravitz impersonation (I did think it was kinda ironic when Foxx's character shot and killed Don Johnson's character ...... Tubbs kills Crockett). The only performance worth watching Christopher Waltz ..... even Sam Jackson was a caricature of himself.

    I don't care how many times they used the N word, or about the gore, or the score .... it was just a lousy movie. I can't believe this is the best Hollywood can deliver.

  • aroorda

    ^Thought the best movie of the year was Movie 43

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Waaaaiiiitaminute. This bull crap about "it doesn't matter" must stop. The reason they are working to earn this award is because it DOES matter. Make no mistake, they are in fact working.

    First, there's plenty of evidence that shows an Oscar increases ticket sales, but it also increases the price a studio can charge for the movie to be shown on HBO/Showtime. It may also increase their leverage when negotiating points on the sale of Blu-ray/DVD through retailers and Amazon.

    For the individual actor, an Oscar nom or prize will keep them in the hunt for future opportunities. It also acts as a bit like winning the masters does in golf. If you win, you don't have to audition as often - parts are given to you without as much groveling.

    So why are we getting all pissy when these people are simply doing the job they are paid to do - maximize the ROI for the studio who invested in the project, and improve their ability to earn more in the future.

    If you are one of those people who is shocked, shocked that the person in the office who actually gets a raise is the one who asked for a raise, I urge you to rethink your outlook.

    These people are simply advocating for a raise - and if you are worth it, I hope you can find a way to do it at your own job (without showing your genitalia of course).

  • Lee

    There was a comment on Salon from a female director yesterday, where she said that the reason so many careers go down the proverbial toilet after the big Oscar win is because the agent will start demanding millions for the actor before they will even look at a script.

    But ditto to the desperate pleading from actors for the statuette. It looks pathetic.

  • Tinkerville

    Obviously there are perks, but in general I sincerely doubt those perks are why celebrities want that award so damn badly. If it's money they're after they can get that from a studio blockbuster, not the critical darlings that tend to garner the Oscar buzz. More often than not they're already big enough names that they don't need to hunt for opportunities and for the ones that aren't the nominations alone tend to propel them into the spotlight. Just look at Carey Mulligan and Jennifer Lawrence.

    For the ticket sales, actors and actresses rarely if ever see any of that money, so yes, that has to do with why studios are campaigning for them, but not the individuals.

    Maybe I'm being cynical but I'd say the vast majority of them want it to be able to call themselves an "Oscar winning so-and-so" with all of the prestige that comes with that title, and not a whole lot more.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I have to dissagree here. If you watch the documentary about lower level character actors, you'll hear one thing loud and clear: Auditioning is awful and heartrending.

    Getting some kind of leg up that pulls you out of the audition mess is huge.

    And your "they don't see money from ticket sales" - yeah, they do, either because they have options, or because it's already been paid to them in the form of the salary they receive. They were paid to do a part, AND very often promotional activities are part of the contract they signed. Just because they don't take your ticket at the window doesn't mean the money they receive wasn't tied directly to sales.

    Also, this whole "they are all big names and don't have to worry about it" is off. Listen to interviews with Michael Caine about the constant worry regarding 'the next role'. There's one story he tells about being approached by two kids with a horrible movie pitch. he says "I was really offended" interviewer says "because it was such an awful project?" Caine: "No, because they didn't come with a firm offer!"

    Finally, yes, the actor community is known for fragile egos - and that's not a crime.

  • Slim

    Campaigning or not, I feel exhausted by the vitriol expressed toward performers who are answering media questions, questions their publicists or studio publicists coached them to answer. Hey, Anne Hathaway, what did you do to get ready for this Fantine role? {Is she supposed to change the subject?} Hey, Ben Affleck, what do you think about spending time with your family? {Ben answers 'No Comment' because he'll be lambasted in gossip media for using love for his family to get an Oscar- is what happened NEVER.} Cut them some slack. If they all turned to sullen Kristen Stewarts, with the lip biting and the cypticness, you'd just find another reason to hate on 'em.

  • Less Lee Moore

    Thank you.

  • pissant

    I don't think anyone is saying that there aren't perks to winning. Obviously, there are perks. What they mean by "it doesn't matter" (I think) is that there are probably several people (actors/directors/producers/etc.) who make movies because they love doing it, and they aren't going to stop just because they aren't getting awards. And while some actors and directors lean towards projects that are "Oscar bait", we'd like to believe that isn't the biggest motivation for them.

  • Derreck

    Plus for actors, instant salary raise. There's also that nifty "Academy Award winner/nominee" that'll get attached to your name in publicity.

  • Kballs

    Whoever influenced these dipshits to vote for Crash is a mothereffing genius who must not under any circumstances be crossed.

  • That was Weinstein, wasn't it? The guy owns half of Hollywood. It's why all the women in his movies end up wearing his wife's clothes for the awards. Even though Marchesa suuuucks.

  • Derreck

    and i've never had a problem with Anne Hathway but girl really needs to tone it down. She is clearly missing a sassy gay friend.

  • m3h

    stereotype much? probably harmless, but still.

  • Derreck

    well, i'm referencing the "Sassy Gay Friend" of YouTube fame (look him up!) where he visits certain female literary characters and gives them a reality check.

    Kind of a stereotype i guess, but i really meant it in the sense that she needs some sort of best friend/confidante who can say "Anne, i love you, but you need to cool it. This is starting to work against you."

  • pnnylne

    She's such a stupid bi-yutch.

  • Derreck

    WHAT, WHAT, WHAT is she doing? I mean, really. She has it in the bag already. All she needed to do was coast.

  • Derreck

    CONSIDER.

    (that will never not be hilarious to me.)

    I hate Harvey Weinstein and all the Oscar politics that make it almost mandatory for god-awful campaigns. PICK ME. CHOOSE ME. LOVE ME. Geez. That's why i have loads of respect for Mo'Nique who made it adamant that she was not going to do a damn thing and let her (amazing) performance speak for itself.

    Sidenote: Highly unnecessary dig at Nicole Kidman. She can be loaded with so much Botox to the point where a smile is a daily workout and she will STILL act circles around most women in Hollywood. Her performance in The Paperboy is SO much more than peeing on Zac Efron.

    Plus, haven't we all pissed on Zac Efron one way or another?

  • Kballs

    *shakes it off*

    *zips pants*

    See you next week, Zac.

  • ,

    Shakes it off ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Waits ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Shakes it off ...

    Waits ...

    ...

    ...

    ... one ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    ... hour.

    Zips up

    Immediately feels pee drop running down leg

    Sighs

    (signed)

    Man, age 55.

    You'll see.

  • Fruity Fonzie

    'Look at Nicole Kidman's career'

    i guess you forgot she was nominated again in 2010 for Rabbit Hole?

  • Carlito

    So it's new but actually not new at all, Hathaway flashed on purpose (really?) to get attention, and Affleck is playing up the family angle only now (except he's been very open about his family before: http://www.pajiba.com/seriousl... I think the Oscars are way too self-serious as well, but please step away from the celebrity gossip echo chamber for a few seconds.

  • Tinkerville

    It's hard not to be turned off by desperate groveling, especially when, as you said, the award doesn't even matter. I'm looking at you, Anne. I used to defend you. I watch all the awards shows, fill out ballots, and have been known to yell at the TV when an idiotic winner is announced, but a few days later I know it doesn't actually matter. Seeing these people care so damn much is both funny and a little sad.

    Oddly enough, this awards season has had the opposite effect on Bradley Cooper, who I used to think seemed like a douche but has sounded intelligent and delightfully self effacing in all the recent interviews he's been doing.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Don't forget Nathalie Portman's embarrassing campaign last year. Ugh.

  • John G.

    Is she adding that pretentious "h" in there now, or was that you?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Well, she did just move to France.

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