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Oscar Nods

February 21, 2008

Working with big names helps get you an Oscar nomination, but knowing Academy voters doesn’t.


How to get an Oscar nomination. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In Hollywood, who you know matters – but only so much, according to a study of past Oscar nominations by UCLA sociologist Gabriel Rossman and Harvard health policy scholar Nicole Esparza. They found that an actor is more likely to get an Oscar nomination if the film’s director or screenwriter had been nominated before. Supporting actors also benefited from appearing with previously nominated stars. But Rossman says knowing Academy voters didn’t seem to help.

GABRIEL ROSSMAN (University of California, Los Angeles):
We expected to find that people who had worked with a lot of Academy members would be more likely to get nominated – on the logic of ‘oh I worked with so-and-so, he’s a good guy, I’ll nominate him this year.’ In fact there was no effect of that.

But the single biggest predictor was film genre: An actor is nine times more likely to get nominated for a performance in a drama than any other type of film. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.