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Julie Gerstenblatt

Julie Gerstenblatt

Posted: March 1, 2011 05:36 PM

How to Win an Oscar in 14 Easy Steps


Earlier this week on this very Huffington Post, Andrea Savage gave us a look at the role that cunnilingus played in this year's Academy Award nominees for best actress, noticing quite rightly that three out of the five women nominated were recipients of oral sex in their films.

Used to be that all you needed for an Oscar nod was to play mental retardation or have a convincing physical affliction, right?

Not exactly.

You see, for several years now, my husband and I have been working on a theory. An award-worthy, dazzling in its theatricality theory, as to how to get nominated for an Academy Award.

Forget commentators debating about and forecasting the winners. Here's how it's really done by the pros.

Step 1: Pick a setting. As real estate agents know, there is hardly anything more important than location, location, location. And if you want to be nominated for an Academy Award, you'd be wise to select either Boston or England as the setting for your film.

Now, with Boston, you'd get something like Good Will Hunting, or Mystic River. Also, The Town and The Fighter (Yes, I know it's set in Lowell, people. No need to get all technical on me.) Heck, New York native Martin Scorsese knows all about this, finally deciding to set a film in Boston just so that he could win himself a much-overdue Oscar for The Departed.

Had it been set in the Bronx, it surely would have lost to Little Miss Sunshine.

Now England sometimes has the edge over Boston, as witnessed this Oscar Sunday in The King's Speech. That's because the Brits are way classier than us Americans, and everyone knows it. Which brings me to Step #2, the need for an accent.

Step 2: Sound really smart or really dumb. That's the allure of the Boston accent versus the British one, right there. Apparently, Christian Bale did a better job of sounding dumb than Geoffrey Rush did of sounding smart, and so last night, we had a winnah.

Step 3: Play a real person.

Step 4: Play white trash.

Step 5: Play a boxer or a cop or a bank robber, a cowboy, or a Mafioso.

Step 6: Play gay.

Step 7: Get raped.

Step 8: Have an impairment or affliction of some kind.

Step 9: Have a drug or alcohol addiction.

Step 10: Go to war. (Preference given to World War II and Vietnam, as they are cinematically "the bloodiest.")

Step 11: Play someone making a comeback, or an underdog.

Step 12: Get assassinated.

Step 13: Sing.

Start combining the above, and watch the awards pile up.

Let's see how it's done.

Play a real person with a Southern accent: The Blind Side.

Play a real person with a British accent = Shakespeare in Love.

Not bad, right? But, if you combine three or more of the above, you will see how exponentially better the movie becomes. It's a Mendelian square of Oscar genetics.

Play a real person with a British accent and an affliction = The King's Speech.

Play a real person with an accent who is assassinated: Gandhi.

Play gay = Philadelphia, The Kids are All Right.

Fine. Those were solid movies. But let's see what happens if we complicate matters.

Play gay with an accent = A Single Man.

Play a real person who is gay and gets assassinated = Milk.

Play a gay cowboy with an accent = Brokeback Mountain.

Here's another combination.

Get raped = Monster's Ball.

Play a real and gay person who gets raped = Boys Don't Cry.

Get raped playing white trash outside Boston = The Accused.

And another:

Play a white trash underdog fighter = Million Dollar Baby.

Play a real person underdog fighter = Raging Bull.

Play a white trash real person underdog with a lot of "fight" in her = Erin Brockovich.

Play a white trash real person underdog with a Boston accent whose two sons are fighters = The Fighter.

And just for fun:

Play a guy with an accent and an affliction who goes to war, meets real people, and is the penultimate underdog = Forest Gump.

Now, that's hard to beat. However, if you get lucky, you can sometimes strike a combination at the Six Sigma black-belt level, such as:

Play an underdog singing cowboy with an alcohol addiction and an accent trying to make a comeback = Crazy Heart.

Step 14: When all else fails, get Leo DiCaprio wet.
(What? Did you not see Inception? What's Eating Gilbert Grape? And the mack daddy of all wet Oscar movies, Titanic?)

Surely you now see how easy it is to win an Academy Award. I'm so excited by this matrix that I'm frantically writing up the formula on my windowpane as we speak, just like Jessie Eisenberg did in The Social Network, while playing a real person living in Boston with a social impairment. (In fact, now that I think about it, real people with social impairments writing up formulas on windowpanes at Ivy League schools could constitute an entire level of it's own. Or maybe I just have A Beautiful Mind.)