Advice to Oscar Hopefuls: Don’t Read About Yourself

There are two seasons in Hollywood: Emmy season and Oscar season, which each run six months (though the planning and prognostication start before that).
The Oscar ceremony is still three months away, and the campaigning is more exhausting than ever. So here are a few tips about surviving the marathon, for anyone who’s a first-time contender.

1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
You may already be exhausted, but the race is only half over. During awards season, you’re in training. So eat healthy, take vitamins and always carry a hand sanitizer.

2. Don’t read about yourself
There are many journalists and pundits handicapping the awards, and their predictions can shift frequently. These rankings are useful for strategists who want to study the strengths and vulnerabilities of their clients, but many contenders have gotten ulcers as they watched their “Oscar chances” go up and down over the months. In addition, the media love to drum up mano-a-mano matchups in various categories. If you read enough of these stories, you will start to believe in rivalries. In truth, last year actors Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya were on so many panels together that they became pals. Film work is often isolating. You don’t get to meet people from other films and even lose touch with co-workers on your own film. So enjoy the time with all of these fellow contenders and forget about the “competition.”

3. Listen to your handlers
You may want to speak out on socio-political concerns, but it could backfire. During Emmy season, Penelope Cruz helpfully attended events to promote FX’s miniseries “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” When she was asked about Woody Allen, she politely responded and many news outlets carried her comments, but neglected to mention “Versace.”

And two pieces of advice if you’re lucky enough to get nominated:

4. You will feel out of place at events
Get comfortable with that feeling. You will look around the room and feel everyone else is more hip, more glamorous, more inside. You may feel like the one person who doesn’t belong, the orphan at the rich-folks’ banquet. But be assured, everybody in the room feels that way too (with the possible exception of Meryl Streep and John Williams).

5. A tip for anyone wearing a dress: Avoid trains.
Gowns with long trains look beautiful in red-carpet photos, but they’re not practical: After the photo is taken, the evening consists of people in gridlock (scrambling to get to their seats, to the bar, to the exit). Many women have been brought to tears when their dress was ripped by shuffling feet. Here’s a cautionary tale: Last January, the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton featured the usual rush of people trying to get to their tables before the show started. Within one minute, a woman had six people step on her flowing train. Suddenly, Frances McDormand appeared out of nowhere, picked up the woman’s train and said, “OK, we’ve got you, let’s go to your table” and she carried the train until the woman was safely seated. Did we need yet another reminder that Frances McDormand is one of a kind? No. But the moral of the story: We all dream about Frances McDormand swooping into our lives to rescue us, but you shouldn’t depend on it. With trains, as with life, you’re basically on your own.

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