As Oscar fever heats up in Hollywood over who will win these silly — and they really are embarrassingly silly, self-congratulatory awards — let’s all just face one simple truth: It’s just not that hard to win an Academy Award! There, it needed to be said.
That’s not to say it’s not daunting, if not nearly damn impossible, to secure a starring or supporting role in a movie, any movie, but if you’ve made it that far, the odds are on your side that you will one day receive an award for some type of historical drama where you play a mentally challenged, washed-up country singer who discovers a gay, homeless, musical genius, former wrestler on the streets of LA, and the two of you eventually drive your car off a cliff in a climactic moment of symbolic unity, all while inconspicuously doing a product placement for your Boost Mobile Two-Way.
Think about it, according to the MPAA — and this changes by year — but there are roughly 700 to 1,000 movies made each year directed toward English-speaking audiences. Now, that includes the lowest of low-budget B, C, and D movies, as well as Hollywood blockbusters. The vast bulk of these never secures distribution, are never shown in theaters, and go directly to DVD (and that’s if they even make it that far).
Only a couple hundred of movies actually make it to the big screen. Of those, again, many are poorly made, low-budget flicks with no stars, marketing budgets, etc. Then, we can filter out the kinds of movies that are never Award contenders — action flicks, comedies, rom-coms, horror movies, etc. That brings the pool down to maybe 50 movies, and that’s being quite generous. So, right there, the odds of winning an Oscar are 1 in 50, and 1 in 5 to be nominated since 10 films and/or actors are generally nominated for each category.
But, when you consider Oscar history and the fact that the Academy favors films that include the mentally or physically challenged, have some sort of social or historic significance, are about the mafia or a boxer or a race horse, or the director, producer or lead actor is perceived to have been passed over, the pool of viable winners dwindles. So, let’s say that halves the contender base to 1 in 25 to win an Oscar, 1 in 2.5 to receive a nomination
Add to that the fact that only a small number of studios have the funds to launch the high dollar marketing campaigns required to influence/bribe the Academy, and that usually narrows the fight for the prize to 2, sometimes 3 films each year. So, at their worst, the odds of winning are 1 in 3, or 1 in 2.
Consider this: Wal-Mart employs over 1.6 million people and only one of those greeters/stockers/clerks/cashiers/glue huffers will truly beat the odds as the soul-crushing retailer’s Employee of the Year. Now, there’s an accomplishment.
The moral of the story: If you’re a working actor and you can’t win an Academy Award, you would never cut it at Wal-Mart, and the universe is giving you a metaphorical wedgie.