How to win an Oscar – some simple rules
Miss out the year before

The Return of the King, Ian McKellen

In 2002, Peter Jackson missed out on the Best Picture award for The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. The following year he missed out again for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. So, it was only fair that LOTR: The Return of the King finally would bag the trophy in 2004.

Or, what about Judi Dench? She missed out on that Best Actress award for Mrs Brown in 1998, but the Academy rewarded her with a Best Supporting Actress gong the following year for her blink and you’ll miss it role in Shakespeare in Love.

It’s not just a recent thing either. Take Joan Fontaine back in 1941. She missed out for Rebecca, but won a year later for Suspicion.

Do a biopic and capture the essence of someone real.

Die a dramatic death by the end of the movie

For those who haven’t seen the following films, look away now. Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Milk, Braveheart, Life is Beautiful, and the list goes on. Meet a tragic or particularly harrowing end, and you’ll soon have that statuette within sight.

If you’re known for your good looks, rough it up

Monster, Charlize Theron

The stunning Charlize Theron achieved wonders with her monstrous Aileen Wuornos didn’t she? And, of course, who can forget Elizabeth Taylor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Play gay

Sadly, it’s still rare to see films with central gay characters come out of Hollywood. But movies that raise awareness over homophobia and the struggle for gay rights deserve Oscar recognition for sure. And, when they appear (about once a year), the deserving heterosexual actors concerned (yes, Colin Firth does have a point about gay actors) get patted on the back with Oscar nods, and usually awards to follow.

Will Colin Firth bag it for A Single Man this year?

Colin Firth

Play a character with a disability

Rain Man, I Am Sam, My Left Foot, Shine, Forrest Gump. These are just a few. Films that effectively raise awareness of physical or mental disabilities certainly deserve the awards. And, for those actors rising to the challenge, awards nominations are usually a dead cert.

Dried up? Make a comeback

Think John Wayne with 1970’s True Grit, or Ruth Gordon in 1969’s Rosemary’s Baby.

The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke

Washed-up actors returning to the big screen are always considered worthy Oscar contenders. Mickey Rourke almost made it last year for The Wrestler. How will Jeff Bridges fare with Crazy Heart this year?

Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges

Be a male director

Yes, it’s shocking but true: a woman’s never won. Will this year buck the trend?

Kathryn Bigelow


Unfortunately, some stars die prematurely, and before awarding bodies can reward them with the recognition they deserve. Check out some other posthumous Oscar wins here.

The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger

Hang around for long enough

Martin Scorsese had been hanging around since his first Oscar nomination in 1981 for Raging Bull, but finally he scooped the gong in 2007 for The Departed. It’s hardly his best movie. Goodfellas should have earned him an Oscar in 1991. But anyway, those 26 years of waiting paid off in the end.

Al Pacino‘s another one. He should have won for 1972’s The Godfather, but ended up bagging the gong for Scent of a Woman in 1993.

Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino

Involve yourself with a movie that has a catchphrase

I see dead people,’ ‘You talkin’ to me?‘ ‘My precious‘, ‘Show me the money‘. These catchy quotes are all from Oscar-nominated movies.

Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks

And there are some truly legendary lines from the Oscar winners. ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get‘, ‘Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn,’

Oscar statue

So who will win the Oscars this year? Check out our predictions here on Movie Talk.

Rain Man, Braveheart, Milk, Forrest Gump, Scent of a Woman, Shakespeare in Love and Suspicion are scheduled to show on UK TV within the next week. Check on the above links for details.

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