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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.)


by Anonymousreply 1411/01/2013


There are reasons why studios commit category fraud: it’s an attempt to get more nominations for a film; to move a performer out of a more competitive category (and Best Actor is quite competitive this year); to prevent competition between two actors from the same film; to prevent competition by an actor against themselves in a different film; and, ultimately, because it works. The last time two actors where nominated in lead for the same film was 1992, when Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were both nominated as Best Actress for Thelma & Louise; since then category fraud has gained speed and has been occurring almost every year in the past decade. Some of the more notorious examples in recent years of lead performances successfully pushed to the supporting race: Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2005); Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond (2006); Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal (2006); Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007); Matt Damon in Invictus (2009); Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010); and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master (2012).

Quite possibly the most glaring example of category fraud occurred in 2004, when Jamie Foxx was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Collateral, the Michael Mann-directed thriller in which Foxx co-starred with Tom Cruise. Considering that the narrative thrust of the film focused on the character arc of the cab driver played by Foxx, and that he had more screen-time than that of Cruise (Foxx was practically in every frame of the film), his was clearly a lead role; but the studios, DreamWorks/Paramount, pushed him into the supporting race because a) they didn’t want him to compete against his co-star in the same film and b) Foxx already had a guaranteed Best Actor bid for Ray—for which he was nominated and won.

And so, this year you have Warner Bros. placing Gyllenhaal in supporting so as not to compete against his fellow lead (Jackman) in Prisoners; Universal putting Brühl in supporting so as not to compete against his fellow lead (Hemsworth) in Rush; and Roadside Attractions pushing McConaughey in supporting so as not to compete against himself in a guaranteed Best Actor bid in Dallas Buyers Club.

I hope the Academy doesn’t fall for this anymore; it isn’t just the fact that these actors could potentially be nominated in the wrong category, it’s the fact that by doing so, they are conceivably preventing genuine supporting players from receiving their just due: the Supporting Actor race this year hasn’t fully taken shape, so widely acclaimed and thoroughly deserving performances from, for example, Sam Rockwell (The Way, Way Back) and David Oyelowo (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) could be unfairly snubbed in favor of these leading players being shoe-horned into the supporting race; worse is the fact that there are genuine supporting performances in two of the films that are deserving of consideration – Sam Shepard, marvelous as a weary ex-FBI agent in Mud, and Paul Dano, both disturbing and devastating as a mentally challenged kidnapping suspect in Prisoners. It would be lovely to see these classic supporting performances nominated rather than their films’ leads in the wrong category.

Finally, one last word: shame to the Oscar bloggers – the folks at Awards Daily, Gold Derby, Hit Flix-In Contention, and others – who willingly go along with this category fraud. You should be calling out this practice as the unfair cheating that it is rather than enabling it.

by Anonymousreply 110/31/2013

OMG. Could this be any longer? B O R I N G.

by Anonymousreply 210/31/2013

Speaking of the Academy, Oprah is done for.

Between Meryl's movie, and the one that just came out about Nazi Germany, and 12 years a slave, Oprah can kiss her Oscar win goodbye - FOR A SECOND TIME.

Sorry, O!

by Anonymousreply 310/31/2013

They should let the screenwriters decide who's leading and who's supporting. They're they only ones who can really tell.

by Anonymousreply 410/31/2013

I believe Robert Redford and Matthew McConaughey are a lock for nominations, along with Forest Whitaker, Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Hanks,and Chewetel Ejiofor in the Best Actor category, and don't forget about Leo D and Christian Bale.

As for supporting, don't be surprised if James Franco gets a nomination for Spring Breakers as silly as it might seem. Then there's Fassbender, Renner, Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Geoffrey Rush, and James Gandolfini.

I don't see either Jackman or Gyllenhaal as a factor in either category. I disagree with you about Brokeback Mountain too. Heath Ledger was the clear lead in that film. He should have won for it too.

by Anonymousreply 510/31/2013

How was Ledger a "clear lead"? I don't think you can make that argument -- it's like saying Leo was Supporting to Kate in Titanic or Al MacGraw was Supporting to Ryan O'Neal in Love Story.

by Anonymousreply 611/01/2013

It's impossible to compare one acting performance with another. You are far too invested in a silly awards show.

by Anonymousreply 711/01/2013

I don't know that there is any fraud going on, because the actor's branch of AMPAAS controls the voting for nominating actors. They are irrational but it is consensus for the time (whether right or wrong). You have people like Nicole Kidman, who won for "The Hours," but she is barely in the film. The scenes that make me remember that movie are the ones with Meryl Streep and Ed Harris. But it was "Nicole's time," whatever the hell that means. Also, the acting members are not swayed when it's too overtly wrong (like Kate Winslet being nominated and winning as best actress, when HW wanted her for supporting). But it's always an interesting topic for fall. Thank you.

by Anonymousreply 811/01/2013

LMAO...while OP's post veers into "Mary!" territory, I do agree with the overall gist of what was written.

The most shameless example of category fraud occurred when Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Actress in "The Hours"...while Julianne Moore, who had more screen time was submitted as Best Supporting Actress! From

[quote]Meryl Streep is in the film for 42 minutes, Julianne Moore for 33 minutes and Kidman for only 28 minutes.

Talk about a shamelessly craven move. Unfortunately, Diane Lane, who SHOULD HAVE won Best Actress was screwed.

by Anonymousreply 911/01/2013

r8, for the sake of a fun argument, I'd insist that Nicole, along with Meryl and Julianne Moore, seriously, were all leads in "The Hours" -- leads in their separate stories, which all ran about the same length. That Moore was nominated in Supporting while Nicole was nominated in Lead was ridiculous, and done both because Moore had another Lead performance in the mix that year ("Far From Heaven") and so as not to have her compete against Nicole. It's shameless and shameful.

by Anonymousreply 1011/01/2013

I would only argue that film, like a piece of a literature, has to be judged on the some of its parts. It's not three movies, it's one film. Watch it again and then make a case why Nicole Kidman was a lead. Two people having the same idea at once is not an accident.

by Anonymousreply 1111/01/2013

OP is right. There is nothing more perplexing and infuriating than getting nominated in the wrong category and then winning.

by Anonymousreply 1211/01/2013

Oh good, another "cinephile" who can't deal with the Academy not falling perfectly in line with his/her own personal preferences.

by Anonymousreply 1311/01/2013

Sounds like that twat Nathaniel who is obsessed with plastic surgery addict and part-time mother Nicole Kidman.

by Anonymousreply 1411/01/2013
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