IT’S AN HONOUR JUST TO BE NOMINATED…
It’s an honour just to be nominated…
It’s the line we hear at almost every ACADEMY AWARDS ceremony. It’s as much a part of the OSCARS as the red carpet fashions and the dramatic speeches.
A performer is nominated for an OSCAR but loses to someone else. The camera pans to the ecstatic winner rushing to the stage. But what happens to the other ACADEMY AWARD nominees who are left gamely smiling in their seats?
Does it help or hurt them to fall just short of winning Hollywood’s most prestigious award?
It depends on who you ask.
“I can’t see any downside to it,” commented actor MARSHA MASON, a four time OSCAR nominee who was nodded for THE GOODBYE GIRL, ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, CINDERELLA LIBERTY and CHAPTER TWO – but never won.
“People who would not have paid attention to me started to pay attention. When I went to meet Clint Eastwood for [the film] Heartbreak Ridge, the first thing he mentioned to me was, ‘Wow, that’s terrific. You have four Academy Award nominations.”’
MARSHA’S experience isn’t necessarily universal. Plenty of performers have seemingly melted into the background after their OSCAR nominations.
Yet there are other actors whose careers seemed to shift into overdrive once they were nominated. The late PAUL NEWMAN was nominated for nine acting awards beginning in 1958 for roles in films such as CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, THE HUSTLER and THE VERDICT.
Though he didn’t win, he continued to be one of Hollywood’s essential leading men. He eventually won a BEST ACTOR OSCAR in 1986 for THE COLOR OF MONEY.
An OSCAR nomination doesn’t just help individual performers. It can also help get a film made, GREGG KILDAY asserted. Producers can tell would be investors the filmmakers have landed an OSCAR nominee when they’re trying to line up support.
“It gives them a little bit more of a name. That’s helpful to producers that have to go out and raise money.”
An OSCAR nomination can also help a film, said PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, a box office analyst with Hollywood.com.
The gross of the 1999 film AMERICAN BEAUTY grew by more than $55 million (to a total of $130 million) after it was nominated for and won several ACADEMY AWARDS.
It ended up taking home five OSCARS – including BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR and BEST DIRECTOR.
“It’s no secret that Academy Award nominees enjoy a bump just after the nominations are announced and just after the awards show as film fans rush to see the movies.”
A performer can build on an OSCAR nomination by making smart choices, remarked Christopher Sharrett, a professor of communication and film studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
One ACADEMY AWARD nomination, by itself, has limited usefulness.
“It can raise a person’s public profile for a spell. But if they don’t follow it up with something really credible, it’s like a dime a dozen. People get nominated all the time.”
According to Christopher Sharratt, the actor TOMMY LEE JONES is a classic example of how to follow up an OSCAR nomination. TOMMY LEE JONES was nominated for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR in the 1991 OLIVER STONE film JFK. He used that nod in part to pick good roles and become a viable box office personality.
TLJ eventually won BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR for his role in the 1993 film THE FUGITIVE. But he had already parlayed his OSCAR nomination into a string of popular films.
“He is now a durable actor. He has an appealing personality and he’s used his craggy, weathered good looks to establish himself as a star.”
MARSHA MASON was able to do the same.
She said her ACADEMY AWARD nominations gave her great credibility with casting agents and directors. At times, after an OSCAR nod, she said she couldn’t take roles she wanted because she was so busy.
Today people still come up to her and congratulate her for winning the OSCAR.
Does she correct them? MARSHA laughed uproariously.
“Sometimes. I just say, ‘Well, thank you.‘ “
MARSHA claimed it was easier to accept losing an OSCAR years ago in Hollywood because the competition wasn’t as fierce. Now, winning an ACADEMY AWARD is more tied into the marketing of a movie.
MARSHA said her disappointment was lessened by the realization that winning an OSCAR is like “a crap shoot.”
“I don’t think a nomination will ever hurt you. It’s your own peer group that voted for you. That’s really a big honour in terms of your career.”
MARSHA is still acting. She’s working on a solo performance piece and she has founded a line of organic farm and natural products called RESTING IN THE RIVER.
“My life is pretty busy. I’m having a good time.”
MARSHA suggested that the best acting ACADEMY AWARD nominees end up doing often takes place during the OSCAR ceremonies.
When asked if she and others really mean it when they say it was an honour just to be nominated, she paused before stating:
“Well, we are actors.”