Image source (before photoshop): spinningplatters.com
It is more than just the most prestigious award in film.
It is a gathering (albeit often excessively long) of the most recognised and talented movie stars on the planet.
To put it into perspective for us mere mortals, it is roughly equivalent to prom night for Hollywood’s A-list celebrities; the extensive hours of preparation, the nice (and expensive!) dresses, the awards to be won, and the hype leading up to and surrounding it are similar to our humble school dances. Multiplied by a billion in terms of scale and media coverage, of course.
It is the night.
But just what does it take to get that coveted invitation (that many of the rich and famous can only dream of receiving) to Hollywood’s most glamourous night?
Based purely on research and observation, here are seven ways to get invited to the Oscars:
1. Be nominated for an Academy Award.
Duh. And to do this, you’re going to need a lot of talent. Lots and lots of it. (On the controversial side, topics and themes in your project, or your personal background, might have some political influence on whether you’ll get one of the limited five nomination spots over another close competitor. No one is ever going to admit to this, of course, but depending on the political climate, one’s background might have varying levels of influence that make them favourable for inclusion.)
Luck is important too, because your odds at being nominated also depends on the level of competition for the year. Some years, really talented contenders are not nominated because there are not enough spots for the too many deserving film-makers and actors. So, luck will have to be on your side as well.
2. Be invited to present an award/segment.
The vast majority of these are actors; the viewers want to see someone that they know handing out gold statuettes (it helps with the viewership numbers. Yes, that matters a lot).
To get invited as a presenter, you’ll probably need to have acted in one of the Best Picture nominees. Why? Well, I think it’s a matter of being relevant…
Also, if you won an Oscar in the acting category last year, you will be invited to present the same award for the opposite gender this year. It’s Oscar tradition.
Alternatively, you’ll need to be a seasoned Thespian/film-maker/Hollywood icon of legendary status that the Academy would give you screen time for the sake of putting you on screen. Even if the goddess of acting that is Meryl Streep wasn’t getting regular Oscar invitations via the nominations route, she could probably easily snag an invitation from the producers.
Or you could be a teen heartthrob, and The Academy would then pick you to attract increased viewership from a younger demographic (ahem the Twilight cast, Zac Efron, etc.). You’re not going to be viewed with the same esteem that your nominated or legendary colleagues are, but you snagged an invitation to the Oscars, so who cares, right?
3. Be the host.
While you won’t necessarily need to be an actor to land this job, you pretty much need to be already having a lot of screen time. Which means this will pretty much be limited to television personalities, if not actors. Sorry, production crew.
Again, the Oscars producers’ desire to attract a certain kind of viewership could influence their selection of the host. As Anne Hathaway famously (and shamelessly and hilariously) said at the 83rd Academy Awards, “Thank you, James (Franco), you look very appealing to a younger demographic as well.”
4. Be invited to perform.
This will either be for a nominated song, or for the always heart-wrenching ‘In Memoriam” segment. Naturally, this means that you’ll be invited if the song you performed for a film is nominated.
Sometimes, other performance groups like the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers or Cirque du Soleil are invited to perform, but I’m pretty sure that they don’t get to walk on the red carpet or watch the rest of the ceremony. So, it’s like missing out on the entire prom! Bummer.
5. Be a cast member of a Best Picture contender.
Starring as at least a pretty prominent supporting character in a Best Picture contender could get you invited to the Oscars even if you’re not nominated. This is especially the case if the film you starred in is one of the more likely contenders for Best Picture, and is nominated for awards in many other categories as well. The ensemble cast tends to go on stage with the director and producers to celebrate if the film wins Best Picture. Which means, you might get to go on stage without having to win an award yourself, host, present or perform! You’ll probably be one of the least anxious of all the people sitting in the “camera zone”.
Starring in a Best Picture contender also often leads to you being invited to present an award (see #2). If you starred in an original musical and are the original singer of one of its songs, and said song gets nominated, then you’ll overlap with #4 as well.
6. Be the Guest of #1, #2, #3 or #4.
Nominees, presenters, celebrity performers and the host (I think) always walk down the red carpet with a partner, and that partner is the “Guest” indicated on the Oscar invitation letter (pictured above). As the Guest gets to walk down the red carpet with and sit beside the invitee in the theatre, they are extremely close to the person whom the invitation letter is addressed to. So, unless you are a spouse, lover, parent, sibling, offspring or (maybe, but not commonly) best friend of the invitee, you are unlikely to be the receive the most coveted “plus one” spot on the planet.
7. Be invited by an invitee.
According to the invitation letter, everyone invited not only gets to bring a Guest, but also has the option of reserving a maximum of two seats. My guess is that these are the people who sit further behind or in the balconies of the theatre. I’m pretty sure that they do not get to walk down the red carpet, and as they do not sit beside the invitee, the camera almost never pans to them. But at least they get to breathe the same air as all those Hollywood A-listers!
Occasionally, people in this category are acknowledged by the invitees in acceptance speeches, especially if they are the parents of the invitee.
So, if you are an acquaintance of or related (even distantly) to someone who has been invited to the Oscars, now is your time to be a bootlicker, and do it shamelessly. Who cares about pride and what others say about you? You’ll be laughing at them when it’s you who’s rubbing shoulders with some celebrity at no less of an occasion than the freakin’ Oscars!