This will probably win you an Oscar – but should it?
There are a few sure fire ways to get an Oscar:
If you’re a straight man, you should play a gay man. Preferably one who kisses (or or has sex with) other straight men playing gay men.
If you’re a hot woman, you should become an ugly woman. Bonus points for playing a sex worker (ugly of course).
And if you’re an able bodied actor, your best way to snag a statuette is to portray a person with a mental illness or a physical disability.
Sixteen per cent of all Academy Awards won by actors and actresses have been for their portrayal of a person with a mental illness or physical disability. Add addiction to that and the number goes up over 25 per cent. Add portrayal of a real person with a disability? Everyone other nominated person should Just. Stay. Home.
Want more? Try: The Oscars are on tomorrow. Here’s who’s nominated.
Without resorting to Google, there’s a good chance you can name an Academy Award winning or nominated movie where the lead has a disability. Rain Man. A Beautiful Mind. My Left Foot. Forest Gump. Ray. The King’s Speech. Scent of a Woman. Born on the 4th of July. The Piano. Million Dollar Baby.
Of course, Eddie Redmayne took out this year’s Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. And Julianne Moore won over the Academy with her portrayal a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice.
It seems that viewers and Academy voters love a ‘disability’ story. People love to see a story of struggle, of pain and of triumph against adversity, of brilliance concealed and then uncovered or of great potential brought low by a great loss.
Most of all, it seems, people love the transformation – from good looking able-bodied actor, to crippled, tormented, misunderstood person with a disability.
The actors portraying people with a disability are congratulated as being *authentic* in their portrayal. They’ve been so *brave* in transforming themselves.
And yet, you know who would be authentic in those roles?
You know who would be remarkable at transforming themselves into disabled people?
Of really getting into the mind of someone in that situation and understanding their motivations?
Yep, people with a disability.
If realistically portraying a disabled person is So Hot Right Now, where are all the disabled actors?
Only three times in the history of the Academy Awards has a person with a physical disability won a gong. Marlee Matlin (who has a hearing impairment) won a best actress gong for Children of a Lesser God in 1987.
Harold Russell, whose hands were amputated after an accident in 1944, won a best supporting actor Oscar trophy in 1947 as a World War II vet in The Best Years of Our Lives.
And artist Dan Keplinger, won Best Short Subject Documentary in 1999 for King Gimp, which he wrote and starred in. Even though Keplinger, who has cerebral palsy, was at the ceremony, he was unable to go on stage and accept the award because there was no ramp to the stage for his wheelchair. His award was accepted by two able-bodied directors.