Everyone knows the Oscars are all about rewarding the best films of the year. But ‘best’ is such a subjective term. If you’re a movie-maker hoping to go for the gold on Oscar night, then there are a few good ways to boost your chances.There are some kinds of movies that the Academy seems to love above all others, a few categories of film that seem to crop up year after year. These include
As that one character in Inception said, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.” If you want not just to win, but to pound your opponents into the dust and gloat over them from atop your pile of golden statues, then the historical epic is your best bet. Movies featuring stirring speeches, noble heroes and giant armies of people in old-fashioned costumes killing each other (not to mention state-of-the-art special effects) have been winning Oscars for years. Be warned, though. For every epic that pulls off an epic Oscar sweep, there are three that fall flat (films like Alexander, Troy, and the Last Samurai, to name a few.) Make sure that the film is emotionally rousing, and at least a little historically accurate. Getting an ensemble cast of A-list actors generally helps.
Examples: Ben Hur, Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King (not technically ‘historical’, but it fits the mold pretty well), Dances with Wolves, Braveheart
The War Movie:
Unlike the epic, which tends to be big on heroism and valor, the war movie focuses on the dark side of war. The message that war is hell never gets old. When it comes to the war movie, grittier is better. Extra points if the movie is filled with shaky cam and features a lot of people yelling at each other while bombs explode in the background. If you want to play it safe, stick to World War II and Vietnam.
Examples: Apocalypse Now, the Hurt Locker, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Letters from Iwo Jima
The Gay Movie:
The Academy likes to think of itself as progressive, which is why most movies about gay and lesbian rights and/or homophobia are all but guaranteed a few Oscar nominations. At the very least you can expect some nominations for your actors and actresses.
Examples: The Kids Are All Right, Milk, Brokeback Mountain
The Boxing Movie:
Seriously, what is it with boxing and Oscars? Every couple of years, another one of these crops up. Something about the ring seems to capture the hearts of the Academy time and again. This year’s the Fighter is only one of many. Wrestling can work as an alternative.
Examples: The Fighter, the Wrestler, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, Raging Bull
The Troubled Musician Movie:
Although most biopics tend to fare well, garnering a huge number of Best Actor and Actress noms, the troubled musician movie tops the lot. It is the story of a troubled genius who rises to fame while battling some sort of substance abuse and/or his inner demons. It is a story that has been told many times and won many Oscars.
Examples: Walk the Line, Crazy Heart, Ray, La Vie en Rose