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Dear Academy Members....

...Don't Fall For Category Fraud Anymore! As an ardent cinephile and Oscar-buff since I saw my first Academy Awards telecast at the age of 12 (the Best Picture winner that year was Chariots of Fire), I have some pet peeves when it comes to the members of the Academy and how they vote, especially the Acting branch. First is seeing performances I greatly admire passed over while performances I don’t particularly care for get nominated; but I recognize that is all a matter of opinion and there’s little I can do beyond pleading, praying and lighting candles for my favorites (it rarely works, sadly). But my second pet peeve, well, I’m going to try to do something about that. It’s called category fraud and has become quite a problem over the years, particularly in the past decade or so. Category fraud is where an actor (I’ll be using this term to reference both male and female performers) is nominated in the wrong category: a supporting actor nominated in lead, or, as happens more often than not, a lead actor nominated in supporting. Keep in mind that the Academy sets no rule on where an actor can be placed; it’s up to the individual members of the Acting branch to make that decision alone. But studio persuasion, in the form of “For Your Consideration” ads in the trade journals, pushes those members to vote in a certain way, and this is where category fraud begins. The “For Your Consideration” ads indicate what the studio is pushing for Academy consideration: for example, in campaigning for last year’s Django Unchained for the Oscars, The Weinstein Company listed Jamie Foxx as a Best Actor possibility and Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor possibilities; in the end only Waltz was nominated—and he won. I don’t believe any “For Your Consideration” ads have appeared so far this year, but the studios have indicated to Hollywood journalists and Oscar bloggers where they are going to attempt to place certain actors in the race. And, as usual, there’s some category fraud already occurring, particularly in the Best Supporting Actor race, where three men who are clearly co-leads in their respective films are being bumped down to supporting in the hope of getting them nominations. The actors in question are: Matthew McConaughey in Mud—he’s co-lead in the film with Tye Sheridan; Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners—co-lead with Hugh Jackman; and Daniel Brühl in Rush—co-lead with Chris Hemsworth. (Of the three, I’d argue that only Bruhl – dazzling as Formula 1 racing legend Niki Lauda – is worthy of any Oscar talk.) (continued...)


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