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And the winner is … very unfortunate: why choosing up that Oscar can develop into a curse

The 12 months is 2006. Competing for first-class image, the pinnacle prize of the 78th Academy Awards, are 5 films. Ang Lee’s wrenchingly sad queer cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger is a critical favorite.

Capote, a meaty biopic via Bennett Miller, stars the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman in the name position. George Clooney’s gripping accurate night time, and properly luck celebrates CBS information reporter Edward R Murrow and an era of journalistic idealism and daring. Munich, directed by means of Steven Spielberg, is a propulsive historic thriller about the aftermath of the Black Friday terror assault at some stage in the Munich Olympics.

But the movie that wins is Paul Haggis’s Crash, a thuddingly unsubtle try to have interaction with US racial politics via a laboured, multi-stranded storyline. Initial critiques have been fairly positive: Rolling Stone describes it as “a knockout”; The Washington post lauds a “uncommon American film clearly approximately some thing”.

But after the Oscars win, notion of the movie starts to shift; it is placed somewhere among a punching bag and a punchline for an ongoing shaggy dog story about the Academy’s vote casting behavior. Crash earns a diploma of notoriety that it might in all likelihood in no way have performed had it now not won.

In 2023, it’s possibly no longer a question that is important within the minds of the film industry elite making ready themselves for this weekend’s rite. But is it occasionally higher now not to win an Oscar?

Trawl via Oscar history and mythology, and it doesn’t take lengthy to find a base layer of superstition, and the idea of an “Oscar curse”. This, proponents argue, moves once in a while and randomly, and manifests in a profession which, in place of receiving a boost from a win, founders or loses path. Examples stated include Louise Fletcher, whose win for her chilling performance as Nurse Ratched failed to translate into a excessive-profile movie profession, and F Murray Abraham, a winner for Amadeus, who languished for over a decade in assisting roles in a string of B films.

While it’s far pretty a great deal impossible to establish a causative relationship between an Oscar win and a subsequent career spiral, it does appear viable that the highlight falling on Tatum O’Neal, as an instance – at 10, the youngest actor to win an Academy Award – would possibly have contributed to her later issues.

Charles Gant, awards editor of screen international, takes a extra pragmatic view of the potential negative outcomes of a win. “What can manifest is that citizens praise someone who’s very well forged in a particular role. However then Hollywood struggles to discover the right position for them. It can result in fake expectations, to the actor turning down roles that they possibly need to have ordinary or to their agent demanding expenses untethered to the economic realities of the market.” All of that may skew a career trajectory after a win, however which infrequently amounts to a curse. But that’s now not to mention that there aren’t darkish forces at work. Every award contender comes with a distinct narrative that builds throughout the campaign season. Some of this grows organically (seemingly at least) but a good deal of it’s miles curated by way of awards strategists.

That is precision engineering of the wider perception of a film or skills, however ultimately the purpose is straightforward: to persuade the voters that a few contenders are greater deserving than others.

It’s a gruelling technique, argues Joe Utichi, awards editor of deadline, which may be scarring for the ones sucked into the awards gadget. “I’d draw a difference among triumphing the Oscar itself and the an increasing number of protracted length of Oscar campaigning – which now runs for extra than 1/2 of any given yr – and the slings and arrows thrown by the ‘awards communique’. I’m now not sure the Oscar itself will have as tons of a terrible impact as the scrutiny contenders are placed beneath in the run-up to the awards.

“Strategists whose job it’s miles to secure awards achievement – and you’ll find that a lot of today’s largest players cut their tooth during the Harvey Weinstein/Miramax generation of awards, frequently at his employ – have end up more and more relentless at choosing holes in their competition. An award contender’s every pass – during the campaign and earlier than it – is examined with a level of scrutiny that even political campaigners may feel is going too a ways. And there are few tests and balances in region to make sure those campaign procedures are scrutinised as keenly as the contenders themselves. The human value of existing beneath that microscopeis rarely stated. However it can be surely devastating for the people going through it.”

The vilification of unpopular contenders – and winners – is nothing new. The 1941 movie How inexperienced became My Valley, which defeated Citizen Kane to win great photo, changed into booed at some stage in the rite. However the backlash in opposition to positive winners has been magnified through social media. Clips of especially clunky moments from Bohemian Rhapsody circulated extensively at the internet following the 2019 Academy Awards, supposed to name into query the movie’s win for exceptional enhancing.

Social media also can be harnessed in a movie or an actor’s favour. A flood of clips showcasing Barry Keoghan’s overall performance in the Banshees of Inisherin won’t have ensured his nomination but clearly didn’t harm. And a targeted marketing campaign with the aid of fellow actors, inclusive of Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron, assisting Andrea Riseborough’s exquisite performance in the low-budget indie movie To Leslie, brought about her unexpected nomination for first-rate Actress this year. This triggered ripples in sure sectors of the awards industry, an enterprise widely invested inside the continuation of the extra conventional – high-priced – campaign technique.

The backlash to her nomination was quick and emphatic. The campaign was accused of breaking policies (an Academy research located that it had no longer) and Riseborough changed into, unfairly, deemed to have taken a slot earmarked by using pundits for either Viola Davis or Danielle Deadwyler. A win for Riseborough at this factor may be a double-edged sword, reigniting the controversy and distracting, another time, from the excellent of her performance.

Ultimately, but, the consensus is that even an unpopular win is still an Oscar win, and the politics are largely unimportant to the punters out of doors of what Gant describes because the “media-bubble perspective. Do the producers of Crash regret being the poster children for not worthy best picture winners? I’m guessing not.”

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