×

June Squibb: Poster Girl for Oscar Campaigns

June is bustin’ out all over. The irresistible June Squibb has become a YouTube success thanks to a brief and funny film made for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” in which she deadpans about her chances of winning an Academy Award.

It’s no coincidence that the clip appeared this week. Campaigning is in overdrive building up to the Feb. 25 close of Oscar voting. The average moviegoer may wonder why in February they watched David O. Russell on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” talking about “American Hustle” two months after the film opened. Or why Leonardo DiCaprio was on “CBS This Morning,” while the show featured ads for “Gravity,” which opened in October, or why the L.A. Times entertainment section on Feb. 21 featured a front-page interview with Steve McQueen.

The enthusiastic campaigning is not surprising, because few nominees are considered shoo-ins. And this 11th-hour push makes sense, strategically; it’s like a marathon runner making a surge in the last few miles of the race. A few awards reporters have fretted about overkill, darkly predicting that after a long season, aggressive campaigns could result in voter backlash. I may be naive, but I don’t think Academy members vote for a campaign or against it; they vote for what they think is best.

Campaigning goes back to the earliest days of the Oscar and promotion is part of Hollywood’s DNA. (Full disclosure: Variety gets some money from campaigns, but so do many other news outlets. Besides, I suspect the biggest item on campaign budgets is for TV ads and travel expenses.) Still, “campaigning” has become a dirty word. Filmmakers prefer to say they’re just promoting the film.

Popular on Variety

Non-industry people are often shocked at the notion. In truth, there is aggressive campaigning for Pulitzers and, for all I know, for Nobel Prizes and Insurance Salesman of the Year awards. But they don’t get much attention from the media. Still, some people tsk-tsk about campaigns, as if June Squibb is holding voters in a hammerlock unless they promise to vote for her.

Squibb is the poster girl for campaigning. By hitting the promotion trail, she gave voters a chance to meet her and realize that the character in “Nebraska” is 180 degrees from her. In other words, she reminded them she’s a real actress. Will her hand-shaking make a difference? We’ll find out March 2, but either way, I hope it gets her a lot of work.

At their worst, campaigns can get ugly. Last year hit the nadir with the mudslinging at “Zero Dark Thirty” and, to a lesser extent, “Lincoln” and “Argo.” But it’s been fairly benign this year. Knock wood.

I personally am ready for the season to be over, but I have only admiration for the folks who still have this much Oscar energy. So, to all you campaigners: Keep goin’! The finish line is in sight. And if June Squibb at age 84 can do it, so can you!

More Film

  • Spirited Away

    Netflix to Carry Iconic Studio Ghibli Animated Films

    The iconic animated features of Japan’s Studio Ghibli will be available on Netflix from February. The move is a further change of position for the studio which has repeatedly resisted the idea that its beloved cartoons would be released on digital platforms. Netflix, sales agent Wild Bunch, and Studio Ghibli, which counts Hayao Miyazaki as [...]

  • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in

    SAG Awards 2020: 'Parasite' Makes History; 'The Crown,' 'Mrs. Maisel' Earn Top TV Honors

    Neon’s “Parasite” won best motion picture cast at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, becoming the first foreign language film to pick up the top prize. Netflix’s “The Crown” was named best TV drama and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” earned the prize for best TV comedy in a strong showing for streaming [...]

  • Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Lee Jeong-eun,

    SAG Awards 2020: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    The Screen Actors Guild Awards are always the first peer group ceremony of the new year, giving those who make films and television series the chance to celebrate each other. Going into the 26th annual ceremony, which took place Jan. 19, the nominees were a mix of industry veterans and beloved favorite and some newer-comers, [...]

  • HAF logo

    Hong Kong Project Market HAF Lines up Cream of Asia for 2020 Edition

    Lin Cheng-sheng (“Betlnut Beauty”), Giddens Ko (“You Are The Apple of My Eye”), Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff”) and Yeo Siew-hua (“A Land Imagined”) are among the big name Asian directors lining up to participate in the 18th edition of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The powerhouse project market will run for [...]

  • Jennifer Aniston

    SAG Awards: The Complete Winners List

    Korean thriller “Parasite” made history at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, becoming the first foreign-language film to win best motion picture cast. In another streaming stride, Netflix’s “The Crown” nabbed best TV drama and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” took home best TV comedy. In a repeat of the Golden Globes, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content