If you are an Academy Award nominee this year, I would like to offer you first my congratulations, and second, some words of consolation. Chances are you are going to lose. The likelihood of losing is usually 75% or higher depending upon the number of other nominees in your category. Since it is more than likely that you will not win an Academy Award, you should take some time to understand what you’ll be missing out on. Because really, it’s less than you think.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was initially conceived by ruthless Hollywood tycoon Louis B. Mayer, a man who is remembered for, among other things, using blackmail to get a discount on Clark Gable’s salary. The intended purpose of the Academy was to declaw the growing labor movement of Hollywood talent and technicians. The approach was twofold: first, to create a pseudo-union that would arbitrate contracts between studios and talent (always in favor of the studios, of course), and second, to bestow awards.
“I found that the best way to handle [moviemakers] was to hang medals all over them … If I got them cups and awards they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created,” Louis Mayer once remarked.
Since then, getting an Oscar has become one of the chief goals for anyone working in film. Mayer’s scheme worked. But the fact remains that the awards are figuratively hollow, which is something you should really take to heart in case you are hoping to get one.