Achievement in Product Placement and Other Alternative Oscar Categories

It’s 2014, time for Oscar categories to reflect what we’re all really thinking about the entertainment industry.


Academy Award Sugar Cookies
Academy Award Sugar Cookies (Photo credit: camknows)

The Oscar nominees were announced yesterday, and sadly, ‘Best Motion Capture Performance’ is still missing from the line-up. (Sorry, Benedict Cumberbatch.) The nominations were all fairly predictable, largely pulled from the end-of-year Oscar-bait, though there were a couple of glaring omissions. (American Hustle wasn’t nominated for best hair and make-up. Won’t somebody think of the wigs?) And I know we’re all sentimentally attached to it, but it’s probably time for the Best Original Song category to go. (Think of how much shorter the ceremony will be!) Of course, by eliminating one category two more will pop up in its place. Here are some of my suggestions for alternatives to better reflect the real Hollywood:

Best Attempt by a Comedian to Snag an Oscar Nom With a ‘Serious’ Role – Will Ferrell was Stranger Than Fiction and Jim Carrey had The Truman Show. This year Ben Stiller made his attempt to break into the nominations with not-quite-a-drama-but-not-as-silly-as-Zoolander The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, though the attempt was, like those named above, a failure. Based on Jonah Hill‘s nomination for Wolf of Wall Street (his second, after Moneyball), I would say that the other comics are aiming too high, and if they really want that Oscar legitimacy, they should seek out supporting roles where it’s good to be the comic relief.

Best Achievement in Product Placement – They’ve got to pay for those big-budget special effects somehow. From Reese’s Pieces in E.T. to Fedex in Castaway to Heineken in Skyfall, the art of advertising within a motion picture is as varied as the acting performances. It takes some real talent to uphold a product placement agreement without holding up the film. This year the award would go to American Hustle, even though the brand wasn’t mentioned and the product is nearly 40 years out of date, just for bringing the term ‘science oven’ into (back into?) our lives.

Best Performance by a Former Child Star Not in Rehab – It is a difficult, nearly impossible thing to survive life as a child actor without developing a drug habit or suffering a mental breakdown – especially if you were forced through the Disney Tween Machine. I think the good decision-making of those rare few who took their time and segued into careers as adults ought to be celebrated. For 2013 I’d call it a tie between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson. They had a number of projects through the year, and then they made a movie together. It can be done, though I think it helps if your parents aren’t crazy.

Best Performance by a Beautiful Woman Made-up to Look Unattractive – There’s a belief that if you’re an actress in Hollywood, and you want to get nominated for (and win) an Academy Award, then you should find a part as a disfigured serial killer or frumpy writer. Something that involves prosthetics. This doesn’t really apply to any of this year’s Best Actress nominees, but if the category were properly named, it would go to Emma Thompson for her portrayal of P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. That perm!

And finally, The ‘Oops, We Forgot to Give Ben Affleck the Best Director Award for Argo‘ Award. It’s like when the Academy hands out one of those ‘special’ awards to someone they repeatedly snubbed as a consolation prize, or when a newspaper prints a retraction of a glaring error in the next edition. Come on, he wasn’t even nominated, that’s just criminal.


Leave your suggestions for Alternative Oscar Categories in the comments or tag them on Twitter with #AlternativeOscars.

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