You schmooze, you (might not) lose

Eye on the Oscar: The Talent

With more than 600 films released each year, the lines are long for actors who want Oscar and other kudos consideration.

But it’s not just about a great performance or even a committed actor that can vault a thesp to the Oscar short list. There’s no one foolproof nomination formula.

The essentials remain the same, however: Get butts in seats, ideally before the DVD screeners arrive.

Says Lea Yardum, awards strategist for Paramount Pictures since 2005: “There are a lot of different strategies that play into what we do, but they’re all working to the same goal: Encourage people to see that movie.”

But maybe not too soon, in the first stages of the campaign.

Says Peter Biskind, film historian and contributing editor at Vanity Fair: “It’s important to develop momentum early, but not too early. There can be a backlash against frontrunners, and dark horses can come from the outside and create an upset.”

In addition to playing the hell out of the film, actors must put in time before key players: Voters first, journos second, tastemakers third. That leads to a mix of screenings with Q&As and meals in which glad-handing goes on along with brief intimate chances for conversation that can help create a bond between the actor and the voter.

Finessing media coverage remains vital, experts agree. Yardum says a recent “CBS Sunday Morning” report on John Goodman (who has two talked-about perfs in “Argo” and “Flight”) was on the nose.

“That was impactful for him to do at this time. You see these images of him and you’re left with, ‘Wow, this guy has had a terrific career.'”

For lesser-known faces, such as “Flight” co-star Kelly Reilly, early recognition is key.

“Early adopters are vital. The community is excited to see a fresh face.”

Without an early perceived nom berth (for example “Lincoln'”s Daniel Day-Lewis, who can afford to be reclusive), most actors have to go above and beyond to get off the bubble.

“It really takes commitment on the part of the actor to jump through all the hoops to find a way to stand out,” says Reid Carolin, producer for “Magic Mike.” He applauds star Matthew McConaughey for taking a break from filming to do another round of appearances and screenings for “Mike,” which came out in June.

“An actor has to put aside his regular ego and the normal rules and be able to say, ‘I deserve this, I’m going for this,’ ” says an Oscar consultant. “They have to prove to voters it’s something they really want, and that they respect the process.”

Eye on the Oscars: Talent
When a performance feels within reach
Lead actor | Lead actress | Supporting actor | Supporting actress