Bringing home an Academy Award – or at the very least, receiving a nomination – is easier than you think. Here’s how to win an Oscar in four simple steps.


Make sure your film is epic, based on historical events, or an inspiring true story about the indomitable power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. Or boring. You’re likely to pick up awards for Best Cinematography, Original Score as well as the majors.

Make a period drama if it’s the award for Achievement in Costume Design that you’re chasing.

If you’re up against a Pixar/Disney production in the Best Animated Feature Film category, you’re not going to win.


Play somebody with a physical disability, mental illness or terminal disease.

Portray a historical figure, or a country and western singer in a biopic.

 Transform yourself, either physically (gain/lose weight, shave your head) or with prosthetics and makeup (like Nicole Kidman’s nose in The Hours and Charlize Theron’s face in Monster). Adopting a foreign accent is also a plus.

• Truly inhabit the role so we are watching the character and not the actor playing the character.


Don’t be too excited if you win the Best Performance in a Supporting Role – it could mean the end of your career (like Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire, and Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls).

Remember, not everybody who wins an Oscar truly deserves one:

– Nicole Kidman for The Hours (2003)

– Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love (1998)

– Marlee Matlin for Children of a Lesser God (1987)

– Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (1994)

– Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman for Crash (2006)


Keep it short or you’ll be drowned out by an impatient orchestra – unless you’re a screen legend, then you can take your time.

Thank your fellow nominees, director and co-stars, family and God. Don’t worry if you forget someone.

Don’t declare yourself to be “King of the World”.

Don’t include political views in your acceptance speech – which will be incredibly difficult this year – or mention “Zionist hoodlums” like Vanessa Redgrave did in 1977 to boos from the shocked crowd.

Cry (optional).