This is How To Win An Oscar, According To One Study

The biggest Oscar bait of all: being from the good old U.S. of A.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences favors Americans starring in films about American culture when it doles out Best Actor and Best Actress trophies, researchers from the University of Queensland claimed in a new report published in the British Journal of Psychology.

The same holds true for British actors who won BAFTA Awards — the UK equivalent of the Oscars — according to the analysis of 908 Oscar and BAFTA winners between 1967, when the London-based organization began awarding honors, and 2015.

“Our results demonstrate that the recognition of creative output is strongly conditioned by the degree of shared social group membership between perceivers and performers,” the authors wrote.

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“A creation is most likely to be regarded as outstanding when artists are seen by perceivers to be ‘one of us’ — something that becomes even more true as the identity-related stakes get higher.”

Though a majority of prizes at both awards ceremonies went to Americans, the researchers found a “significant relationship” between the awarding organization and nationality of nominated or award-winning actors.
What’s more, the authors found a significant relationship between actors’ “social group membership” and the “culture” — coded based on a film’s plot and its main characters’ nationality — portrayed in their films.

“A US actor in a movie about US culture was 21 times more likely to have received an Oscar merit prize than a US actor in a movie about non-US culture,” they wrote.

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Likewise, a British actor whose movie depicted British culture was 20 times likelier to win a BAFTA prize than a British actor starring in a movie about a different culture.

This year’s best actress nominees of American nationality are Natalie Portman (who has dual Israeli-American citizenship), Emma Stone and Meryl Streep; Isabelle Huppert is French, and Ruth Negga is Ethiopian-Irish. American best actor contenders include Casey Affleck, Andrew Garfield, Viggo Mortensen and Denzel Washington. Ryan Gosling, nominated for the Los Angeles love letter “La La Land,” is Canadian.

May the best actor win — though some may have inherently better odds.