Tips on Winning an Academy Award

Written by Nelson Cumming

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People have done various videos and blogs before on how to maximize your chances on winning your very own Academy award. However, most of the videos and blogs that I have seen have these tips that are exclusive to acting.

For my list, I will like to create tips on how to win an Academy from a variety of eligible categories. I will give tips on not only the actors but for writers, editors, cinematographers and other professions in the film industry if acting is not for you.

1. Bear little resemblance to what you look like

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It’s easier for people to look at and say “Wow that is a spectacular performance, they changed their appearance”┬á

For all three Academy Awards that Daniel Day-Lewis has won, not once did he look like himself. For My Left Foot, he played an unkempt, unshaven man with cerebral palsy. In There Will Be Blood, he played a nineteenth-century mining prospector who fancied a mustache and his face covered in dirt, sweat, and grime. In Lincoln, he played Abraham Lincoln.

Lots of actors and actress undergo physical transformations to fit in with the consistent or setting within a movie. However, the largest physical transformations occur when an actor does a biopic. This ties into the second tip.

2. Be in a True Story

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Here are a couple of biopic winners including the biopic that I think has the best chance of winning Hacksaw Ridge

To any person that is watching a movie, they will notice an actor’s talent in a biopic for two reasons. The first one is that they know the character beforehand and so they have a frame of reference on how the actor should perform. The second reason is that you would have known all the mannerisms and attitudes the character would have had because you also have a frame of reference on the person.

Biopics are also good for directors and studios that are looking for the best picture win. Four of the last six films that have won the best picture category were from biopics.

3. Make sure the Director wins his Academy Award

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If you want to win Best Picture and join the ensemble of cast and crew on that stage together you must make sure the director wins their award. The reason being is that in the last ten years, seven of the directors who won their award for Best Director won Best Picture.

This fact is not surprising considering that the director is the general, guiding the ship to its destination of success. Have a director that has ambition and acts in good faith to everyone involved. The Best Director category is almost a foreshadowing of the awards presentation for the remainder of that night.

4. Make sure that the Movie is Long

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“I think I found a long, long movie”

 

The shortest film nominated for this year’s Best Picture is Moonlight with 111 minutes and the longest film is Hacksaw Ridge at 139 minutes in length. If you are making a 90-minute film you are almost doomed to fail.

The longest film in any set of nominees has won 40% of the time according to Brendan Bettinger from Collider.com. However, the movie length that the winners of the Best Picture category tend to be in the 100-140 minute range, winning nearly 75% of the time.

If you are planning to win best short film this strategy is suicidal and I recommend you don’t try it unless you edit like the editors of Suicide Squad. This fits well into my next point.

5. Edit Smoothly

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I know for a fact that critics love breezy movies. You have to give people the sensation that 120 minutes feels like 90 minutes and not make 150 minutes feel like four hours like Batman vs. Superman.

Personally, I love smooth editing. Love it. It is one of my pet peeves. How you use the length of your film is just as important as how long the movie is. That is why I think there is next to no chance that Lion will win Best Picture because it dragged sporadically throughout.

Can you imagine Suicide Squad being nominated for best editing? In the words of The Joker “Ha Ha Ha”

The ultimate goal for editing is to make the film like one long sequence despite many scenes and location changes. One of the ways you can do that is…

6. Shoot with a consistent tone

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On google images, I typed “Tonal mess” This was one of the first images came. Just research on what not to do by watching Suicide Squad. Unless it’s for make-up ­čÖé

Shooting with a consistant tone is mainly the cinematographer’s job. From camera movements and angles to lighting, it has to be consistent. It is the equivalent of one coherent thought. It’s easier to sit through as viewers know what realm the movie occupies itself with.

The best films in the world have done this. This year, I believe La La Land had the best use of cinematography. The majority of the movie aimed for being plesent and vibrant. They filmed during twilight (Or magic hour) and the camera was always moving smoothly but briskley, the lighting alwayed glowed and the camera was getting the maximum out of everything that was happening in that movie.

7. Have a Flashy or Eccentric Costumes

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Not that not wearing capes is a rule, but there hasn’t been a winner that had capes as their main costume. Doctor Strange undoubtably gave it a good go.┬á

For costume design, the common trend that I see for all the winners is you either design costumes that are flashy or eccentric. That cover the extremes on both sides of the spectrum.

When I mean flashy, I mean formal but dazzling. This is the route that finds the most success. Films like Titanic, The Great Gatsby, The Artist and The Grand Budapest Hotel have all won for best costuming and they all have the formal but dazzling feel towards all the costuming in their films.

What I mean by eccentric is to go batshit crazy with costume design. In other words, be the alternate chick on the block. I am referring to winners such as Jenny Beavan for Mad Max Fury Road and Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. Their costumes were out of left field to say the least.

8. Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

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If you cover hot butten issues you will have a better chace of winning. Just look at the documentry nominations this year ever since The Academy had been accused of whitewashing

The Best Documentary category is a hard one to give advice to given that is has been marred by controversy over the years. For the documentaries of recent years, they generally deal with hot-button topics that will endure for years to come.

This year it definitely shows. With people complaining about the lack of racial diversity in film, boy those people who complained got their wish, 3 of the five nominated films this year were about racial tensions. Another film called Fire at Sea deals with the tragedy of the European migrant crisis.

As long as it is trending on Facebook or Twitter you have a chance. It gives the Academy the image that they are progressives. I beg to differ, but that is another topic for another time.

9a. Premiere or Show your Film at a Film Festival

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The Venice Film Festival (pictured) and the Toronto International Film Festival generally kick-start the Oscar campaign

The films that are going for Oscar nominations are ones that are premiering at a film festival. That is because the filmmakers are quietly confident that their films will be reviewed positively by cinephiles (movie-lovers) that frequently attend these events.

Some of those people are also members of the academy who expect to be enthralled by the art of cinema. Hell, some of them go their to campaign to promote the films they have done. Those are the reasons why those who campaign for the Oscars go to the festivals. That is because that is where all the voters are.

Out of the nine movies nominated this year, seven of them premiered at a film festival. The other two tried the alternate route which is…

10. Open the Film in December

The one street that December films don’t want you to enter.

If a studio doesn’t think it can compete to the same level as ones that premise or show at a festival, they will release the film in December to theaters. This is so the film will be fresher in the voter’s minds. Fresher than the nomated films that premired at film festival (theoretically speaking)

It is next to impossible for a film released January or February to win. This is because people are unlikely to remember movies from eleven months ago. That’s why Deadpool never got a nomination. I knew Marvel didn’t want Deadpool to be nominated because of its February release date.

Now go on and grab that Oscar.

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Now all you have to do is become a member of the film industry, get hired to do a job in a movie, work extra long hours to beat the intese competition, pray that your fellow comrades love it and campaign for several months, follow all these steps and boom, you have gotten a goldern stature that represents a pay rise for future projects.

I chose Jamie Foxx for this picture because I don’t want to be accused of whitewashing by hypersensitives. Why has none ever accuse the Academy’s of goldwashing their statue? It’s been covered in gold for over 70 years. I think it’s unfair for the red minority statues and I feel they are underepresented by The Academy #OscarsSoGold

 

Lion Review: An Anecdote for January

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Written by Nelson Cumming

January is the month of movie dread. There is never enough money at the box office to warrant a big blockbuster movie and it is also too far away from nomination season to warrent releasing great masterpieces. Fortunatly, in this context, Australians get movies about a fortnight later than Americans do. That is why when movies Lion come out in the middle of January, I cherish them.

Lion is one of those movies that tries to tug the heartstrings through an uplifting story. I liked this movie, but I am starting to get tired of typical plot conventions of the genre. Lion is undeniably a conventional story and for the first two-thirds of the movie were just that with the last thirty minutes being spectacular.

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Sunny Pawar’s feature debut. He does a good job for what his has to do. You expect what he will be doing in the movie but he was still effective nonetheless.┬á

 

Saroo is an Indian boy (Sunny Pawar) living in poverty with his brother. He loses his brother in the middle of a train station and has traveled more than 1,500 kilometers away from home. The rest of the story takes place over many years as Saroo is adopted by Australian parents (Nicole Kidman and Davie Wenham) and turns into an adult (Dev Patel). He still yearns to find his home.

The great thing about Lion is that is achieves everything it is set out to do. The main problem with Lion is needlessly hammering the themes it’s trying to convey. It, therefore, is not a tightly made film and it dragged for a little bit. Because of that, I could not stop thinking of Slumdog Millionare being it’s superior counterpart

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I normally dislike product placement in movies. Google Earth is an exception to the rule

That being said, the last 30 minutes are absolutely fantastic. Who would have thought that something like a software application could bring a lot of drama to a story? It goes to show that there are no limits when it comes to filmmaking, you just have to smart about implementing ideas to the big screen.

 

The other big thing that works in Lion is Dav Patel. It is one of the rare moments that someone knows how to speak in an Australian accent. It has been a minor thing that has bothered me for awhile in movies these days. From Tarantino in Django Unchained to one of the comedic skits in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and finally to Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad. Finally we get a guy who doesn’t play an Australian sterotype

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Guess who the odd one out is. The answer is Dev Patel becuase he plays an Australian convincingly. I am more blunt than a pothead.

Patel has made his character borderline obsessive compulsive about his desire to find the location of his family. Despite this, Patel never comes off as a creep, nor does he come off as trying too hard. He finds the line of being very conflicted and angry while being likable and hospitable. Seeing the way it plays out, Patel acts like a human being. That is a compliment because I believed it and that is the ultimate goal in a movie like this.

Because of the underwhelming editing and some of the eye-rolling cliches in the first half of the movie, I cannot say Lion is in the league of best pictures of the year. I am not even sure it will get an Oscar nomination if there are only 5 slots for best picture for which I am sure was a big goal (We will know soon enough). Nevertheless, Lion more than outweighs its weaknesses with great acting and cinematography.****