Golden Rule: How Films Get Nominated for Oscars

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, OSCAR SEASON! Over the next few months we’ll have tons of coverage on what films may get nominated this year, what chances the nominees have and much, much, more. We’re continuing our Oscar Season Coverage with a look inside the process to get films nominated.

Your see a film at the theatre that one of your friends recommend. You finish it and think, man this film should be nominated for everything come Oscar season. It gets to this time of year and people start talking about all sorts of new films coming out. January comes around and your favorite film of the year isn’t mentioned or nominated for a single thing. You wonder how this could have happened. There’s three words you should know. For Your Consideration.

FYC Inside Out

Each year studios put together a campaign for select films to be nominated for awards. They create websites. There’s ads online. There’s print advertisements in select areas. There’s full page ads in various film and entertainment magazines, or local California papers. There’s special screenings of films for Guild and Academy members. Actors will go on talk shows to talk about their films and be more personable to the public. To gain favor with voters. Different websites will do roundtable interviews with potential nominees. Or profiles on people involved in films that seem like Awards contenders. In some instances actors, filmmakers and studios as a whole will halt plans on certain projects so that someone can work on campaigning for Awards. These campaigns all feature the phrase, For Your Consideration.

The campaigns usually start in October or November with the studios creating “awards” “guild” or “for your consideration” websites or pages off their studio websites that list what films they’re campaigning for, and what categories they hope to be nominated in. Usually it’s pretty straightforward. Live Action films campaign for Picture, Actor, Actress, Score, sometimes Song and any other categories that would apply for the film. Animated features will usually go for Animated Film, Screenplay, Score and Song. Sometimes they’ll include Actor or Actress as there are awards from different groups that acknowledge voice work. And on the rare occasion a group that doesn’t normally nominate someone for voice work, may be willing to depending on the material. Every now and then a studio may help to release a short or maybe a documentary and this may be featured as well. For example, Disney will feature the Pixar shorts or other animated short films on their sites and in their campaigns.

There’s times where the campaigning can become even bigger than the film itself. Or it can cause issues due to the rules of the Academy. One Producer for the film The Hurt Locker was considered ineligible when he directly called Academy members to beg for their vote. Which is even more ironic because the film took home Best Picture that year. Hand in hand with this is the fact that some studios are known for pushing their films hardcore during Awards/Oscar season. The biggest of these for years has been The Weinstein Company and Harvey Weinstein. Whenever award season came around there would be jokes about what movie Weinstein was going buy an Oscar for, or what lengths he would go to in order to bring home the gold each year. And there was a point to it, in the past 9 years TWC had two Best Picture wins with an additional 8 nominations. And from 1989 to 2004 (a year before Disney would kick Harvey and his brother Bob out of their original company) Weinstein helped get Miramax 3 Best Picture wins and an additional 17 nominees.

With the recent revelations of Weinstein’s horrific acts of sexual harassment and rape Weinstein was kicked out of the Academy, out of his company and the Weinstein company as whole is under investigation for misconduct. As he and they should be. Period. Because of this, it means that the films released by the Weinstein company have a dark cloud hanging over them. The only film that may have had a more serious chance at the Oscar race this year was Wind River. A film written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water). Wind River is a film about the rape and murder of a Native American girl and the joint efforts of a rookie FBI agent and a US Fish and Wildlife Service Agent to find her killer. The one advantage Wind River has on it’s side now is the fact that Sheridan, stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, and Producers Basil Iwanyk and Matthew George gave TWC an ultimatum. Give every bit of profits from the film that would have gone to Weinstein to groups that help victims of sexual assault or they would kill the film. Sheridan explained in an interview with Deadline that he told TWC,

“(I’ll) take my name off it, and publicly denounce it. I would have said, don’t go see this movie, don’t rent it, don’t watch it. If he was going to remain publicly attached, if he was going to benefit from a film highlighting the atrocity he perpetrated? No.”

Whether this is enough for Wind River to still stand a chance at any Awards acclaim remains to be seen. It’s a phenomenal film that deserves numerous nominations. But again, it’s now tainted by the Weinstein name.

(We originally wrote this a few weeks back in preparation for our Oscar coverage. Since then The Weinstein Company has removed everything from their FYC site and has removed their name from any FYC campaigning for Wind River. Which may help the film if it can gain momentum.)

Studios have already begun posting films to their For Your Consideration websites and in the coming weeks there will be more sites going live and quite possibly more films added to each of the sites. Be sure to check back with us for more coverage on the Oscar Race leading up to the big night on March 4th 2018 when the Oscars air on ABC.

Wind River

Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 3 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)
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