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->''"The diseased/addicted/mentally impaired always get the Oscar."''
-->-- [[http://www.avforums.com/threads/the-hollywood-rule-book.32262 "Hollywood Rule Book"]], Vanity Fair
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You would think that a good movie is a good movie, and that good movies get Oscars for being good movies. But they don’t.

[[UsefulNotes/AcademyAward An Oscar]] is a big deal. It gets people to the theater, it boosts ticket sales, and it bolsters the studio’s bottom line. As such, studios and producers try to engineer a film so that it can win an Oscar rather than be good in its own right. Typically, this meant a more serious, depressing, or “artistic” film. Such a film is called '''Oscar Bait''', and the practice is also derisively known as “Oscarbation”.

The trend started in the 1970s and 1980s with the emergence of the SummerBlockbuster and the decline of UsefulNotes/NewHollywood. Before then, it was a pretty good bet that the most popular movies were also the best ones (and thus the likely Oscar-winners). But then directors like Creator/StevenSpielberg and Creator/GeorgeLucas hit their stride, making beloved and well-received movies which were nevertheless seen as too “lightweight” to win the “important” categories (acting, direction, writing, and picture). The “serious” fare that did win those categories would become Oscar Bait.

Such films are usually [[TrueArtIsAngsty depressing dramas]], {{Glurge}}y inspirational films, and examples of [[HumansAreBastards man’s inhumanity to man]] – as such, an abnormally large proportion of Oscar Bait films are set during UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust. There’s also a big focus on mental illness or InspirationallyDisadvantaged characters. It’s rare for [[ComedyGhetto a comedy film to do well at the Oscars]] (in fact, one of the biggest cliches of this trope is the comedic actor who takes a dramatic role to be Taken Seriously); [[SciFiGhetto sci-fi]] and horror don’t do much better, and [[AnimationAgeGhetto animated films]] were given their own categories once they flirted with pushing into the big leagues. It’s not a hard and fast rule; you might see a {{Dramedy}} or DarkComedy get a nomination, mostly because there’s still room for suffering.

Oddly, many Oscar Bait movies don’t do so well at the box office. A big reason for that is HypeBacklash and HypeAversion; the heavy campaigning to win an Oscar can be a big turn-off. Furthermore, many Oscar Bait films are released around December or January (as a direct lead-in to the Academy Awards show in late February), so it’s easy to tell them apart from {{Summer Blockbuster}}s. And they don’t even always win Oscars, perhaps because the Academy can actually tell the difference between a good, honest movie and an Oscar Bait attempt, and partly because sometimes they respect the general public’s opinion of a movie and will try to reflect that. (But when they don’t, that’s an AwardSnub.)

The phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the Oscars, either; on TV it’s “Emmy Bait”, on Broadway it’s “Tony Bait”, and in music it’s “Grammy Bait”. See also DeathByNewberyMedal and AwardBaitSong. Contrast ItsNotSupposedToWinOscars.


!!Oscar Bait tactics and examples:

[[folder:Positioning the film to win awards]]
* ''Film/TheDeerHunter'' was a game-changer. After a disastrous preview screening, the studio brought in Allan Carr as a consultant. He concluded that the film was so grim and depressing that people would only watch it if they had heard that it had been nominated for Oscars. Before then, it was the other way around; films got Oscar nominations based on their popular reception. Carr turned the system on its head and gave the film only a short screening in New York and Los Angeles near the end of 1978; the audience was mostly limited to film critics and Academy members. The former raved about the film, and the latter nominated it for multiple Oscars. Only then was it put into wide release to the general public.
* “Oscar-worthy” films tend to be released in the last two months of the year, to get them in before the December 31 deadline but as close to the February ceremony as possible. Sometimes it results in [[ChristmasRushed a rushed production]].
** Studios will often play this tactic to the hilt; to be considered for an Oscar, a film must shown in a theater for at least one full week in the year of nomination in either LA or New York (moreoften LA, due to it being, you know "[[ShapedLikeItself Hollywood]]"). So to push it as close to that deadline as possible, studios will do two things: 1) release the film on/around the Christmas weekend, the last week of the year, and compound that with 2) only giving it in limited release to start. In this, they can technically qualify, letting the limited release period build up word-of-mouth as well as early nomination talk, then go into a wide-release that will take the film, should it have legs, well into February and right up against the Oscars.
* Studios will shamelessly lobby the judges directly, through one of the following:
** Massive advertising directly to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (''i.e.'' the famed “For Your Consideration” ads). These campaigns got so out of hand that people speculated that it may have been a reason the Oscar ceremony was moved from March to February – to get people to pay attention to the films and not the ads. (The main reason, of course, was to coincide with UsefulNotes/{{Sweeps}}.)
** Widespread distribution of free “screeners”, often for “little” films which may not have been in theaters for long. These are typically just [=DVDs=] mailed en masse to all the voting members (which are so pervasive that many Academy members never even go to theatrical screenings, although they often don’t have the time to). Academy members have also been known to “accidentally” leak these screeners to smugglers, although that never dissuaded the studios (and [[http://iteso.mx/~lcoria/index_archivos/page0005.html a Mexican scientist]] did invent a watermarking technology for them).
* Studios will sometimes vie to be the one to “get the most Oscars”, which leads them to release several Oscar Bait films in a row. One of the most notorious for this was Creator/MiramaxFilms, who hit us with ''Film/ShakespeareInLove'', ''Film/{{Chocolat}}'', ''Film/{{Chicago}}'', and ''Film/ColdMountain'' within a few years. They might also set up subdivisions specifically for “arthouse”-style films, like Paramount Vantage.

[[folder:Subject matter and characters]]
* The typical Oscar Bait film is a PeriodPiece or CostumeDrama with “serious” subject matter. This often leads them to be {{Biopic}}s (or at least BasedOnATrueStory) as well. But they don’t always follow this pattern. Some Oscar Bait films can be lower-budget dramas aimed more at the age group of the Academy voters, such as ''Film/AwayFromHer'' and ''Film/SteelMagnolias''.
* Set it during UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust. It checks all the boxes: historical, dramatic, [[HumansAreBastards man’s inhumanity to man]], DownerEnding, TrueArtIsAngsty. It works even if you usually do {{Summer Blockbuster}}s (like Creator/StevenSpielberg finally winning for ''Film/SchindlersList''). It even works if you make it a comedy (''Film/LifeIsBeautiful'' did it). It’s basically a license to print money. (And yes, you can win with [[Film/TheCounterfeiters a movie about people in a concentration camp printing money]].)
** It’s particularly prominent in the Best Documentary Feature category. From 1995 to 2000, three of the five winners directly involved the Holocaust (''Anne Frank Remembered'', ''The Final Days'', and ''Film/IntoTheArmsOfStrangersStoriesOfTheKindertransport'') – and another was about post-WWII Jewish refugees. (See also the 1981 winner, ''Genocide'').
** Holocaust-themed foreign language films that have won the Foreign Language award include ''Film/TheShopOnMainStreet'', the aforementioned ''Life is Beautiful'', ''Film/TheCounterfeiters'', and ''Film/SonOfSaul''.
** Short films about the Holocaust that have won the Short Film prize include ''Film/VisasAndVirtue'' and ''Film/{{Toyland}}''.
** This phenomenon was referenced in ''Series/{{Extras}}'', where Creator/KateWinslet’s character notes that the best way to win an Oscar was to play in a Holocaust movie. Amusingly, Winslet herself later won an Oscar for Best Actress for ''Film/TheReader'', which was about the Holocaust.
* Broadway musicals adapted to films might pick up a MovieBonusSong purely to snag a “Best Original Song” Oscar nomination. This was a common strategy even before the category existed, just as a way to differentiate the film version from the play (and get people to see both). But with the Oscar incentive added on, studios will add songs whether or not the score needs it. The movie versions of ''Theatre/AChorusLine'', ''Theatre/LittleShopOfHorrors'', ''Film/{{Evita}}'', ''Film/{{Chicago}}'', ''ThePhantomOfTheOpera'', ''Theatre/{{Dreamgirls}}'' and ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' all got original song nominations this way; the only one of these to win was “You Must Love Me” from ''Evita''.
* Make it [[InspirationallyDisadvantaged about mental illness or disability]]. It’s been a consistent Oscar winner over the years:
** The first actor to win an Oscar for playing such a character was Cliff Robertson in 1968, for playing the mentally handicapped hero of ''Charly'' (an adaptation of the short story ''Literature/FlowersForAlgernon''), after a massive “For Your Consideration” campaign.
** ''Film/RainMan'' gets a lot of credit for kicking off the modern trend. The film won Best Picture, Best Direction, and Best Original Screenplay in 1988, and Creator/DustinHoffman won Best Actor for his portrayal of the mentally handicapped protagonist.
** ''Film/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'' is one of only three films to win all of the “Big Five” Oscars (Picture, Screenplay, Director, Actor, and Actress).[[note]]The other two, for those keeping score, are ''Film/ItHappenedOneNight'' and ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs''[[/note]] Oddly, though, the acting awards were given to actors who played non-mentally ill characters.
** ''Film/ForrestGump'' won four of the “Big Five” (Actor, Director, Screenplay, and Picture) plus two more in 1994, and it centered around a mentally handicapped man. It’s considered a textbook example of how to win an Oscar because of its historical setting and social commentary.
** John Mills won Best Supporting Actor in 1970 for playing a mentally deficient, mute, ''and'' crippled character in ''Film/RyansDaughter'', baffling his costar Sarah Miles.
** Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio got his first Oscar nomination for playing a mentally handicapped boy in ''Film/WhatsEatingGilbertGrape''. He kept going to try and win one, many times acting even better in typical Oscar Bait films, [[AwardSnub but wouldn’t win one]] for another 22 years.
** Creator/PeterSellers was the subject of an infamous AwardSnub when he was nominated but didn’t win an Oscar for playing the mentally-challenged Chance the Gardener in 1979’s ''Film/BeingThere''. He was hit by the ComedyGhetto and his insistence on treating the film not as Oscar Bait, but rather the role’s inherent challenge and extremely personal RealitySubtext. When people later found out how much Sellers put himself into that role and how badly he wanted that Oscar, Sellers ''himself'' became the subject of award bait in 2004’s ''Film/TheLifeAndDeathOfPeterSellers'' (where he was even played by Creator/GeoffreyRush, who had himself won an Oscar for playing a mentally disabled character in ''Film/{{Shine}}'') – that film, released on TV in the U.S., nearly swept that year’s Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
* The female equivalent of the mental health angle is [[BeautyInversion having an attractive actress play an ugly character]]. But HollywoodHomely isn’t good enough; you would have to [[DyeingForYourArt drastically change your physical appearance to do it]]. Actresses who have won Oscars this way include Creator/CharlizeTheron, who put on 30 pounds and thinned her hair and eyebrows for ''Film/{{Monster}}''; Creator/NicoleKidman, who wore a number of prosthetics to play Virginia Woolf (a character with mental illness, to boot) in ''Film/TheHours''; and Creator/AnneHathaway, who played a bald, emaciated, filthy, and apparently toothless BrokenBird in ''Film/LesMiserables'' in 2012.
* Physical disability can get you an Oscar. This is what got Creator/JamieFoxx a win for ''Film/{{Ray}}'', Creator/AlPacino for ''Film/ScentOfAWoman'', and Creator/DanielDayLewis for ''Film/MyLeftFoot''. Even Creator/JohnWayne got his only Oscar this way, by playing the half-blind Marshall Rooster Cogburn in ''Film/TrueGrit''. The TropeMaker for this sub-category is probably Jane Wyman, winning the gold statuette for playing a deaf woman in ''Film/JohnnyBelinda''.
* WhiteMansBurden is a common trend; a privileged white character will take it upon himself to help an underprivileged minority and thus show his nobility. It earns nominations – like for ''Film/GranTorino'', ''Film/TheBlindSide'', ''Film/FreedomWriters'', ''Film/GloryRoad'', ''Film/TheSoloist'', and ''Film/DangerousMinds'' – but of these, only ''Film/TheBlindSide'' got one.
* An oddly specific recurring theme related to that is the subject of abused, illiterate black women. It’s more or less “Oscar Bait: Black Edition”. The UrExample of this trend is ''Film/TheColorPurple'', which got eleven Oscar nominations (but didn’t win any because it was controversial in the black community for its portrayals of abusive black men and lesbianism). ''Film/{{Precious}}'' was more successful, being about an almost implausibly depressing character – an illiterate black teenager who’s raped by her father, abused by her mother, has a child called “Mongo” (short for “Mongoloid”), and whose uplifting ending to the film is just getting the chance to take the GED test.
* A more recent phenomenon is playing a gay, lesbian, or transgender character and outlining the injustices or tragedies they face. Examples include Creator/SeanPenn in ''Film/{{Milk}}''; Creator/TomHanks in ''Film/{{Philadelphia}}''; Creator/PhilipSeymourHoffman in ''Film/{{Capote}}''; Creator/HilarySwank in ''Film/BoysDontCry''; Creator/ChristopherPlummer in ''Film/{{Beginners}}''; and Creator/JaredLeto in ''Film/DallasBuyersClub''. It wasn’t always a winning formula; films like ''Film/{{Transamerica}}'' and ''Film/BrokebackMountain'' are considered AwardSnub victims (although the latter did win Best Director).
* DyeingForYourArt is a common way to win, but only if it’s bad for you; actors tend to do better by losing weight, gaining body fat, or otherwise becoming uglier as opposed to adding muscle mass (although Creator/RobertDeNiro is credited with starting this trend by bulking up to become a convincing boxer and winning Best Actor for ''Film/RagingBull''). Actors who have won by punishing their body to look less attractive include:
** Creator/GeorgeClooney, who gained 35 pounds for his Oscar-winning role in ''Film/{{Syriana}}'';
** Creator/PhilipSeymourHoffman, who lost 40 pounds for his winning role in ''Film/{{Capote}}'';
** Creator/TomHanks and his generally downtrodden and disheveled look in ''Film/CastAway'';
** Creator/CharlizeTheron, who gained 30 pounds and underwent an extreme BeautyInversion to win for ''Film/{{Monster}}'';
** Creator/HeathLedger, whose extreme MethodActing to play ComicBook/TheJoker in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' may have contributed to his untimely death but won him an Oscar anyway;
** Creator/NataliePortman, who did it twice – first slimming down to 97 pounds and undergoing intense ballet training to win for ''Film/BlackSwan'', and second for shaving her head in ''Film/VForVendetta'' to win the Best Actress Saturn;
** Creator/ChristianBale, who lost a lot of weight to win Best Supporting Actor for ''Film/TheFighter'';
** Creator/AnneHathaway, who lost 25 pounds, had her head shaved, and picked up the general look of a tuberculosis-stricken prostitute to win Best Supporting Actress for ''Film/LesMiserables2012'';
** Creator/MatthewMcConaughey and Creator/JaredLeto, both of whom lost a lot of weight to earn Oscars for ''Film/DallasBuyersClub'' (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively); and
** Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio, who broke his long losing streak by doing extreme things for his role in ''Film/TheRevenant'', including putting on weight, eating raw bison, and sleeping in animal carcasses. Observers joked that the Academy should give him the Oscar right away [[FatalMethodActing before he kills himself]].
* If you’re going to make it more lighthearted, at least have it [[UnderdogsNeverLose star an underdog]]. Winning examples include ''Film/MrSmithGoesToWashington'', ''Film/ErinBrockovich'', ''Film/OnTheWaterfront'', and ''Film/CinderellaMan''.
* Make it foreign. If nothing else, [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff Europeans are very responsive to Oscar Bait films]]. And the Academy likes films set in interesting foreign locations. Films like ''Film/SlumdogMillionaire'', ''Film/CityOfGod'', and ''Film/{{Babel}}'' are successful examples.
* An interesting trend is to subvert the typical Oscar Bait film by creating a “quirky” independent film - some success stories in this field include ''Film/AmericanBeauty'', ''Film/{{Juno}}'', and ''Film/LittleMissSunshine''. These films always feature “hip” dialogue, eccentric characters, and many a SnarkKnight. The problem here is that such films rarely ''completely'' leave the Oscar Bait sphere; they’re still often commentaries on the pointless emptiness of modern society and [[YouSuck those who inhabit it]], and they strive to appear edgy and radical [[RuleAbidingRebel without ever actually being]] [[TheManIsStickingItToTheMan edgy and radical]].
* Don’t make it sci-fi or fantasy; the SciFiGhetto is very much in effect at the Oscars. They usually only get nominated for Visuals, Sound, or Makeup rather than the “Big Five” categories. The only way they get one of those nominations is if they are more cerebral or philosophical, like ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', ''Film/{{Avatar}}'', ''Film/{{Inception}}'', and ''Film/{{Gravity}}''. If you actually want to ''win'' with a sci-fi or fantasy film, it should be based on [[TrueArtIsAncient a highly acclaimed previous work]] (no, not ''Franchise/StarTrek'', older than that) – this was a big reason ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings Return of the King]]'' won Best Picture (because it was a big-budget groundbreaking adaptation of a highly acclaimed work of literature). ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'' notably bucked both trends - it was neither cerebral nor based on a [[Film/MadMax particularly critically acclaimed work]] - but was nominated for Best Picture regardless.
* An unusually specific type of Oscar Bait is the movie about a troubled [[CountryMusic country singer]]. Creator/RobertDuvall (for ''Film/TenderMercies''), Creator/JeffBridges (for ''Film/CrazyHeart''), and Creator/SissySpacek (for ''Film/CoalMinersDaughter'') all won Oscars this way. And Creator/ReeseWitherspoon won hers for ''Film/WalkTheLine'', where she plays a troubled country singer helping an even more troubled country singer (played by Creator/JoaquinPhoenix, who snagged a nomination).
* Actors have had success playing previously celebrated actors. Examples include Creator/RobertDowneyJr as Creator/CharlieChaplin in ''Film/{{Chaplin}}''; Creator/MartinLandau as Creator/BelaLugosi in ''Film/EdWood''; Creator/CateBlanchett as Creator/KatharineHepburn in ''Film/TheAviator''; and Creator/MichelleWilliams as Creator/MarilynMonroe in ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn''. Ironically, of these older famous actors, only Hepburn ever won Best Actor or Actress herself.
* Variation on the above: Films about film-making and acting or who include Hollywood and the film industry as a part of their setting such as ''Film/TheArtist'', ''Film/{{Birdman}}'' and ''Film/LaLaLand''.

!!Films (or otherwise) that come across as particularly obvious in their ambitions:

[[folder:Oscar Bait]]
* ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_See_the_Paradise Come See the Paradise]]'' was identifed by a UCLA study as the most blatant Oscar Bait in film history. A period drama that spanned TheGreatDepression ''and'' UsefulNotes/WorldWarII; touched on Japanese internment despite having a safely white, clean-cut male protagonist; included a MalignedMixedMarriage between the hero and a Japanese woman; and ends with the main character returning to his family after serving prison time for a years-old crime he was an unwitting, innocent accomplice in. The Academy basically ignored it, apparently out of disdain for the sheer shameless pandering.
* ''Film/TheLovelyBones'' was based on a critically acclaimed book about a murdered girl watching her family from the afterlife. It was directed by Oscar winner Creator/PeterJackson and pushed to the end of the year into Oscar Bait time. The film was widely panned, and the only nomination it got was for Creator/StanleyTucci for Best Supporting Actor.
* This seems to be a trend among the later oeuvre of Creator/ClintEastwood:
** ''Film/MillionDollarBaby'' is about a disadvantaged woman who makes a place for herself in a traditionally male-dominated occupation -- boxing. It has Creator/MorganFreeman as the {{Narrator}} and stars Eastwood himself as a character who faces an intense moral dilemma near the end. It won four Oscars in 2004, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Creator/HilarySwank, and it was also a sleeper box office hit.
** ''Film/FlagsOfOurFathers'' and ''Film/LettersFromIwoJima'' are both set during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
** ''Film/{{Changeling}}'' was a 1920s-era PeriodPiece conspiracy film about a missing child, which starred Oscar-baity actress Creator/AngelinaJolie.
** ''Film/GranTorino'' was a film about a bigot’s redemption, starring Eastwood himself. It didn’t get nominated for an Oscar, but it did win Eastwood a special Palme d’Or at Cannes.
** ''Film/{{Invictus}}'' had Creator/MorganFreeman playing Nelson Mandela, trying to unite South Africa after UsefulNotes/TheApartheidEra with The Power of Rugby.
** ''Film/JEdgar'' was a {{Biopic}} of famous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as played by Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio in one of his many unsuccessful bids at an Oscar.
** ''Film/AmericanSniper'' was a rather controversial {{Biopic}} which starred Creator/BradleyCooper as Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal noted for racking up a high kill count during the Iraq War.
** The film adaptation of ''Theatre/JerseyBoys'', itself a multiple Tony-winning musical, was a {{biopic}} of Music/FrankieValliAndTheFourSeasons with an AllStarCast.
* Creator/DavidFincher has tried this off and on ever since ''Film/TheCuriousCaseOfBenjaminButton''. His next film was ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'', which got pretty badly out-baited by ''Film/TheKingsSpeech''. Then he did ''Film/TheGirlWithTheDragonTattoo'', which he backed out of campaigning out of his belief that the film has “too much anal rape” (not that this stopped other films, like ''Film/PulpFiction'' or ''Film/{{Deliverance}}''). And he followed that up with ''Film/GoneGirl'', which got a single nomination for Creator/RosamundPike in spite of it being one of the most praised films of 2014.
* ''Film/TheCiderHouseRules'' is a serious drama about a disadvantaged orphaned main character during WWII who suffers several tragedies. He encounters another character who becomes disabled, has a crisis of morality, and is eventually forced to discard his traditional ethics. It won two Oscars and was nominated for many more.
* ''Theatre/{{Doubt}}'' started as total Tony Bait and moved into Oscar Bait with its film adaptation. It’s about the Catholic altar-boy pedophile abuse scandal, which was RippedFromTheHeadlines. The young victim is also [[UsefulNotes/CivilRightsMovement the first black student in an otherwise white school]], who [[{{Gayngst}} may or may not be gay as well]] (and his father [[DontMakeMeTakeMyBeltOff is not happy]]). It won multiple Tonys, including Best Play and Best Actress. The film version stars Creator/PhilipSeymourHoffman, Creator/AmyAdams, and Creator/MerylStreep -- an Oscar-winning machine if there ever was one.
* ''Film/TheHours'' checks all the boxes. It’s a CostumeDrama. It references homosexuality, AIDS, and the oppression of women. It has Creator/NicoleKidman undergoing severe BeautyInversion. And it has Creator/MerylStreep in it.
* ''Theatre/{{Dreamgirls}}'' was designed to be Oscar Bait, and it got nominated for eight awards (including three for {{Movie Bonus Song}}s) -- but failed to get nominations for Best Picture, Actor, Actress, or Director. On the big night, it was shut out in many of the categories it was nominated in. It’s often speculated that Creator/EddieMurphy would have won for Best Supporting Actor, were it not for the poor timing of ''Film/{{Norbit}}'' coming out two weeks before that year’s Oscars; the film was a major CreatorKiller for him. Just as astonishingly, it didn’t win Best Original Song either (although having three nommed songs might have split the vote). In the end, the only Oscars ''Dreamgirls'' won were for Best Supporting Actress and Best Sound Mixing.
* ''Film/TheReader'' is a [[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust Holocaust-themed]] drama, complete with promotion from master Oscar Baiter Harvey Weinstein. It supplanted both ''WesternAnimation/WallE'' and ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' for Best Picture, despite most people feeling both those films were better; and it couldn’t even beat out the big winner ''Film/SlumdogMillionaire''. That experience was enough that Creator/HughJackman was already lamenting the ''Batman'' film’s snub during the ceremony, and it is also often seen as the impetus for doubling the number of Best Picture nominations to ten.
* ''Film/TheGreatZiegfeld'', Best Picture winner of 1936, was three long hours of big Broadway musical ''and'' angsty melodrama. This lavish {{Biopic}} starred Creator/WilliamPowell as the producer whose name, four years after his death (depicted in the film’s last scene), was the most legendary in show business.
* The 2008 film ''Film/{{Defiance}}'' is one of the most shameless Oscar grabs in recent memory. It’s BasedOnATrueStory and follows a community of Belarussian Jews hiding in the forest from [[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust the Nazis]]. It has a brooding AntiHero (played by frequent winner Creator/DanielCraig) who is forced into [[TrueArtIsAngsty cruel, angsty moral dilemmas.]] It took a page from ''Film/SchindlersList'' and ended with a PhotoMontage of the real-life survivors and their descendants as a WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue. And it totally bombed at the Oscars, only getting music nominations.
* 2011 saw two YoungerAndHipper hosts who had previously been in Oscar-baity movies, Creator/AnneHathaway (who played a woman falling in love and dying of a disease in ''Film/LoveAndOtherDrugs'') and Creator/JamesFranco (who played a hiker who [[spoiler:gets in a LifeOrLimbDecision]] in ''Film/OneHundredAndTwentySevenHours'', which was BasedOnATrueStory). Both were willing to {{lampshade|d}} their situations as they related to this trope; Franco actually was up for Best Actor (but didn’t win), and as for Hathaway:
-->''I thought getting naked would get me an Oscar nod.''
* ''Film/JohnnyBelinda'' is BasedOnATrueStory of a deaf-mute girl who gets raped, has her rapist’s baby, gets declared “unfit” to raise the baby and has to fight to keep it, and is put on trial for her rapist’s murder -- all while struggling to pay the bills on the family farm. Creator/JaneWyman won Best Actress for playing her.
* Danish director Creator/SusanneBier has this reputation:
** ''Hævnen'' (Danish for “revenge”, but released internationally as ''Film/InABetterWorld'') had everything: a failing marriage, vicious school bullies and attacks, TroublingUnchildlikeBehavior, dead parents, and a doctor in an African refugee camp terrorised by a man who cuts pregnant women open. It won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.
** ''Film/{{Serena}}'' is a bleak PeriodPiece set during TheGreatDepression, starring Creator/JenniferLawrence and Creator/BradleyCooper (fresh from the success of ''Film/SilverLiningsPlaybook'') as a morally dubious timber tycoon and his increasingly unstable wife. It bombed critically and commercially and sat on the shelf for a year and a half.
* ''Film/TheHelp'' checks many boxes. It’s a PeriodPiece set in TheSixties whose main character is a white female reporter [[WhiteMansBurden who helps out black maids]], and it’s also based on a best-selling novel.
* ''Literature/WarHorse'', a 2001 film by Creator/StevenSpielberg, was widely accused of being Oscar Bait -- even on the sole basis of its bombastic, overwrought trailer, which basically resulted in massive HypeBacklash.
* ''Film/TheIronLady'', a {{biopic}} of UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher, is clear Oscar Bait, and not just because Thatcher is played by Creator/MerylStreep. It didn’t shy away from controversy, addressed [[InspirationallyDisadvantaged Thatcher’s struggle with dementia]], is technically a PeriodPiece, and its initial release was in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York on December 30, 2011 -- barely meeting the requirements to be eligible for the next year’s Oscars. Observers joked that the Academy must have had a whole box of Oscars with Streep’s name on them and was looking for an excuse to give them to her.
* ''Film/ExtremelyLoudAndIncrediblyClose'' stars Creator/TomHanks and Creator/SandraBullock who try to raise a child with an AmbiguousDisorder in the aftermath of 9/11, as he struggles to deal with the attacks. It was also made by a number of people with big Oscar Bait credentials; it was directed by Creator/StephenDaltry (''Film/TheHours'', ''Film/TheReader''); written by Creator/EricRoth (''Film/ForrestGump'', ''Film/TheCuriousCaseOfBenjaminButton''); and produced by Scott Rudin (second only to the Weinsteins in influence over the Academy). It got a Best Picture nomination, but it had mixed critical reviews.
* Ron Howard’s ''Film/ABeautifulMind'' is a [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory loose account]] of the life of John Nash, pioneer economist, Nobel laureate, and paranoid schizophrenic. The film controversially whitewashed some of the potentially unsavory details of his life (like [[NoBisexuals his bisexuality]]) and suggested he was cured by ThePowerOfLove.
* ''Film/GreenZone'' is a PostNineElevenTerrorismMovie which tried to have an {{Anvilicious}} anti-war message but only really proved that TruffautWasRight. It starred Creator/MattDamon and was directed by Creator/PaulGreengrass, so it had the star power, too. But it got pushed back and was panned by critics when it was released.
* ''Film/TwelveYearsASlave'', a visceral depiction of a man tricked into slavery in the South and the abuses he faced there, was also prime Oscar Bait material. It won Best Picture in 2014 (although it lost many others to ''Film/{{Gravity}}''). This was seen as so inevitable that Creator/EllenDeGeneres addressed this at the start of the ceremony:
-->''Possibility number one: ''12 Years a Slave'' wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: you’re all racists.''
* Creator/DavidORussell's last four films (''Film/TheFighter'', ''Film/SilverLiningsPlaybook'', ''Film/AmericanHustle'', and ''Film/{{Joy}}'') were all basically designed to win Oscars. Their premises were all based on Oscar-proven subject matter (either BasedOnATrueStory or a best-selling book), they all had popular actors in showy roles, and they all touched on serious subject matter. Russell may also have been trying to prove that he was a serious director (as he had had issues with his cast and crew in previous films). Russell himself didn’t win Oscars for any of these films (only three actors did), none of them won Best Picture, and ''Joy'' went 0-for-10 at the ceremony.
* ''Film/{{Selma}}'' is a 2014 {{biopic}} of UsefulNotes/MartinLutherKingJr, depicting Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 in support of the Civil Rights Act. It was released in the fallout from ''Film/TwelveYearsASlave'' and tried to tick the same boxes. But the Academy didn’t take the bait; it won only Best Original Song, and it was nominated for but didn’t win Best Picture.
* ''Film/GetOnUp'' stars Creator/ChadwickBoseman as Music/JamesBrown, in a musical {{biopic}}/{{dramedy}} about the musician’s complicated life and career. It bombed at the Oscars, in spite of observers feeling that at least Boseman’s performance should have gotten him a Best Actor nomination.
* ''Film/TheHundredFootJourney'' is a joint project from Creator/StevenSpielberg and Creator/OprahWinfrey about two chef families -- one from France, the other from India -- who work to reconcile their differences, while the Indian son has to choose between his family and his dream of becoming a great Parisian chef. It received no Oscar nominations.
* ''Film/{{Argo}}'' was VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory of a group of American diplomats who escape the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Creator/BenAffleck plays a CIA agent who smuggles them out by having them pretend to be Canadians making a fake movie. It won three Oscars in 2013, including Best Picture.
* ''Film/TheImitationGame'' was a {{biopic}} about UsefulNotes/AlanTuring, famous UsefulNotes/WorldWarII-era codebreaker and later computer scientist, as played by Creator/BenedictCumberbatch. It had the one-two punch of Turing being a genius, InspirationallyDisadvantaged, ''and'' [[{{Gayngst}} gay in an era when that was very bad]]. It got plenty of nominations, but only won one Oscar for Best Screenplay. Ultimately, people pinned this on ArtisticLicenseHistory and the choice to exaggerate Turing’s mental problems and [[ButNotTooGay downplay his homosexuality]].
* Creator/AlejandroGonzalezInarritu believes so hard in TrueArtIsAngsty that ''Magazine/RollingStone'' dubbed him Hollywood’s “King of Pain”. And he’s raked in the Oscars, for such films as ''Film/TwentyOneGrams'', ''Film/{{Babel}}'', ''Film/{{Biutiful}}'', and ''Film/TheRevenant'' (yes, he’s angsty enough to get Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio his elusive Oscar). Even ''Film/{{Birdman}}'', his least Oscar-baity film, won three Oscars, including Best Picture.
* ''Film/MommieDearest'' is a {{biopic}} based on Creator/JoanCrawford (herself an Oscar winner) and her abusive relationship with her adopted daughter -- it’s even based on the daughter’s autobiography. The film was meant to be total Oscar Bait, and Creator/FayeDunaway was convinced that she would win an Oscar for playing Crawford. But she botched it, ChewingTheScenery so hard that it made the film a veritable {{Narm}} fountain. The studio even resorted to a ParodyRetcon to try and claim that it was a campy comedy. The film saw the decline of Dunaway’s career as an A-list star.
* The 1992 Creator/SpikeLee film ''Film/MalcolmX'' is an epic {{biopic}} about the eponymous icon of the civil rights movement, with an inspirational [[TheCameo cameo]] from none other than Nelson Mandela himself. It was nominated for two Oscars, winning neither. {{Subverted|trope}}, though, in that Lee was more concerned with doing justice to the life of Malcolm X than actually winning anything, but the cynics among us will say that the film was calculated Oscar Bait.
* ''Anime/MillenniumActress'' is a unique anime take on Oscar Bait. It's a [[TearJerker weeper movie]] that opens with [[{{Film/Titanic 1997}} an old woman recalling her past through flashbacks]], heavily features BeenThereShapedHistory-type period piece, and has a tragic ending. It failed to receive any nominations, even in Best Animated Feature, which had only three nominations that year (though it would have likely lost anyway to Film/FindingNemo).
* Creator/WillSmith has taken to making these, from the biopics Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness and Film/{{Concussion}} to glurge-filled Film/SevenPounds and Film/CollateralBeauty.
* To quote ''WebVideo/HonestTrailers'', ''[[Film/Moonlight2016 Moonlight]]'' is about "a young [checkmark], black [checkmark], gay [checkmark] man struggles to escape from poverty [checkmark] and drug addiction [checkmark] told across three decades [checkmark]. Based on a play [checkmark] based on the life story of its author [checkmark]." So, yes, it won Best Picture. Its "best pal" ''Film/LaLaLand'' also caught some flak for pandering very heavily to the Oscar-nominating audience, being a movie all about how awesome Hollywood is.
* Creator/AngelinaJolie's 2014 World War II biopic, ''Film/{{Unbroken}}'', was a shamelessly heavy-handed example. It was BasedOnATrueStory, had an [[AllStarCast All-Star Crew]] and even came out on Christmas Day. However, while most critic reviews praised the actors (''especially'' Jack O'Connell), they were all too aware of Jolie's intentions with the film and strongly criticized her for taking too long to tell the story, focusing on the blatant pandering for Oscar potential rather than the film, and drawing too many parallels between Zamperini and [[UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} Jesus Christ]]. It only recieved three nominations in total: Cinematography, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
** Her films ''By the Sea'' (2015) and ''In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)'' also qualify, and neither fared as well as ''Unbroken'' did. Both were {{box office bomb}}s that were ''destroyed'' by critics, with the latter only earning one Golden Globe nomination.
* Many of Creator/DavidCronenberg's fans were dissapointed when his films became this trope starting with ''Film/ADangerousMethod''--A biopic on UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud which received positive reviews but did poorly at the box-office and received no attention from the Oscars. His follow-up film ''Film/{{Cosmopolis}}'' bombed in its limited release, making less then a million dollars in the U.S. (and only averaging 5 million worldwide) and was criticized for being overly pretentious (with Creator/RobertPattinson's performance in particular being derided for being wooden), it too was ignored by the Oscars.

[[folder:Emmy Bait]]
* ''Series/TheWestWing'' episode “The Long Goodbye” was painfully obviously designed to score Creator/AllisonJanney an Emmy nomination. It did so by omitting most of the regular cast to show her character battling her father’s Alzheimer’s disease. This was particularly strange because Janney won four Emmys on her own over the course of the series, so she didn’t ''need'' a weepy Emmy-bait episode.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': "The Body" is a massive tearjerker episode where the cast deals with Joyce's death and seems to be pushing all the Emmy Bait buttons. It didn't get a nomination, but the NoDialogueEpisode "Hush" did.

[[folder:Tony Bait]]
* ''Theatre/InTheHeights'' centers around an inspirational Fourth of July where impoverished immigrants in Washington Heights win the lottery and struggle with issues of college debt, gentrification, and American identity. The characters angst over ''everything'', including (but not limited to): boatloads of UnresolvedSexualTension, the hypocrisy of UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream, the expenses of living in the heights, and [[spoiler:the death of a beloved community member]]. Sprinkle in some modern, catchy infusions of hip-hop and salsa music, and you have a Tony-winning musical. It was nominated for thirteen categories, winning four (but none for writing).

[[folder:BAFTA Bait]]
* ''Film/{{Hawking}}'', a {{biopic}} of famously disabled genius astrophysicist Creator/StephenHawking, was saturated with BAFTA Bait topics – and not just about Hawking struggling with his ALS or his efforts in science. It even managed to include a few Holocaust references; a supporting character had to flee Nazi Germany with his family as a child.

* ''Film/YoungAtHeart'' was not eligible for either an Oscar or an Emmy (for various reasons), so it set its sights on international film festivals, particularly the Rose d’Or. It’s a documentary about a pensioners’ choir going on tour, and it hit so many of the Oscar Bait buttons that it’s a surprise that it didn’t fall victim to HypeBacklash. It won almost everything it ran for (only ''Film/ManOnWire'' could beat it in anything).

[[folder:Notable Exceptions]]
The Oscar Bait trope is so pervasive that it defines the formula that wins Oscars. When a different kind of film wins big, and no one else can replicate that success, it’s worth noting.
* 1931 film ''Film/{{Skippy}}'' was an unexceptional little family movie about a nine-year-old boy who gets into mischief. Somehow it got four nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jackie Cooper (the youngest nominee ever), and it ''won'' Best Director for Norman Taurog. Even more amazing? It was based on a newspaper comic strip, making it to this day the only movie based on a comic strip, comic book, or graphic novel to ever get nominated for Best Picture.
* The 1934 film ''Film/ItHappenedOneNight'' was a small, low-budget romantic comedy RoadMovie, in an era when Oscar Bait meant elaborate musical and dancing showcases. It gained a cult following and swept the “Big Five” awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Creator/FrankCapra), Best Actor (Creator/ClarkGable), Best Actress (Creator/ClaudetteColbert), and Best Screenplay. This has only been done twice more in all the years since: by ''Film/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'' in 1976 and ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' in 1992.
* ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' is dark, deals with mental illness, and addresses [[HumansAreBastards man’s inhumanity to man]]. It’s also a ''horror'' film, a genre that usually gets no love at the Oscars. (The producers were aware of that and billed it as a “PsychologicalThriller”.) It the first horror film to win any of the “Big Five” since ''Film/DrJekyllAndMrHyde1931'' in 1932 and (as noted above) was only the third film of any kind to ''sweep'' all of the Big Five categories.
* ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'', against all odds, found its way out of the AnimationAgeGhetto and wound up being nominated for Best Picture in 1991. It didn’t win, but this in itself was an ''incredible'' feat (which Creator/{{Disney}} would futilely try to replicate). It is the only animated feature to ever get nominated from when the field was five movies (''Toy Story 3'' and ''Up'' got nods after the field was expanded to 8-10 movies).
* ''[[Film/ANewHope Star Wars]]'' broke out of the SciFiGhetto and got Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Creator/AlecGuinness), and Best Screenplay. It didn’t win any of them, but it showed that a hugely popular sci-fi film might catch the Academy’s attention. It opened the door for such films as ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'', ''Film/{{Avatar}}'', ''Film/{{Aliens}}'', and ''Film/District9'' to get nominations as well, and even non-sci-fi films in the same vein (like ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk''). That said, the fact that they didn’t ''win'' anything big suggests that there’s still a ghetto that has to be navigated with the Academy.
* ''Film/{{Titanic|1997}}'' was unusual in that it wasn’t meant to be Oscar Bait -- just a dream project that was supposed to be committed to the screen. People latched onto it, and it won almost everything.
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'' is a strange case; although it is fantasy, it was also adapted from one of literature’s most important and ground-breaking fantasy works, and it was also a huge spectacle that changed the game in epic filmmaking. But what was truly unexpected was for ''Film/ReturnOfTheKing'' to ''sweep'' its Awards -- perhaps its wins were meant to be for the trilogy as a whole (they were all filmed at the same time and released over three years), but that is still a phenomenal accomplishment for a fantasy film series.
* ''Film/AnnieHall'' won Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. It was unusual in that it was a comedy (although one with a BittersweetEnding. It beat out ''Film/{{Julia}}'' (a {{biopic}} about sticking it to the Nazis) and ''Film/StarWars'' to Best Picture as well.
* ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' was the first comic book movie to win an acting nomination (for Creator/HeathLedger) and only the fourth film based on a comic book or graphic novel to win an acting nomination.[[note]]The others, for those keeping score at home, were Creator/AlPacino for ''Film/DickTracy'', Creator/PaulNewman for ''Film/RoadToPerdition'', and Creator/WilliamHurt for ''Film/AHistoryOfViolence''.[[/note]] With the pervasiveness of serious Oscar Bait fare, the idea that friggin’ ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' can win an Oscar was unreal. Then again, Ledger [[DeadArtistsAreBetter may have had the advantage of sadly being dead.]]
* ''Film/TheDeparted'' was gritty, violent, and serious, but it was also not a war movie, very profane (relative to most Oscar Bait), and otherwise didn’t touch on Oscar-baity subjects. And it won Best Picture. It was directed by Creator/MartinScorsese, who had previously whiffed on the more baity ''Film/TheAviator'' and ''Film/GangsOfNewYork'' -- although this led some observers to believe that its win was a [[ConsolationAward “lifetime achievement” Oscar]] to make up for Scorsese not winning for previous line of work.
* ''Film/NoCountryForOldMen'' followed up on ''The Departed'' and won Best Picture the very next year with the same formula. This, though, was a relentlessly cynical film which won very big -- rather than most Oscar Bait, it presents humanity’s failure as inevitable and comments on the meaninglessness of the material world. It was also kind of an upset winner over ''Film/ThereWillBeBlood'' -- an even ''bleaker'' film.
* ''Film/TheHurtLocker'', other than being a PostNineElevenTerrorismMovie, had very little going for it on the Oscar front; it had a low budget, no big stars, no big studio to promote it, and not even a political message. It wound up winning Best Picture in 2010, in spite of having the lowest box office numbers of any Best Picture winner ever. One thing that ''did'' work in its favor was the narrative of Creator/KathrynBigelow becoming the first female director to win Best Director -- over her ex-husband Creator/JamesCameron. (But some suggest that this was why she wasn’t nominated for ''Film/ZeroDarkThirty'' a few years later.)
* ''Film/TheFrenchConnection'', the 1970 Best Picture, is a gritty and suspenseful genre film with a nihilistic tone. But unlike most Oscar winners, it has a [[AntiHero morally ambiguous protagonist]] and an ending where [[spoiler:TheBadGuyWins and most of the other villains receive a KarmaHoudini]]. Some speculate that the Academy gave the win to a film this dark to distance itself from the [[{{Glurge}} saccharine musicals]] that won in TheSixties.
* ''Film/TheArtist'' won Best Picture in spite of it being a SilentMovie from 2011. It’s not often that LeFilmArtistique (or something vaguely resembling it anyway) gets nominations beyond Best Foreign Film, but this one won the whole thing. It helped that it was also an unashamed love letter to Old Hollywood, which probably appealed to Academy viewers.
* Creator/QuentinTarantino’s films ''Film/IngloriousBasterds'' and ''Film/DjangoUnchained'' certainly seem like Oscar Bait at first glance, the first being set in World War II and the second tackling American slavery. They wound up getting seven and five nominations respectively. They’re also quintessential Tarantino films -- fictional, bizarre, and CrazyAwesome, so never ''feeling'' like Oscar Bait.
* ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'' is arguably one of the least Oscar-friendly movies ever made. It's the fourth film in a [[Film/MadMax franchise]] that never saw ''any'' Oscar attention before. It's a loud, explosive, and unapologetic pure action movie. It has very little dialogue and is essentially a nonstop two-hour car chase scene. And it was released all the way back in May. But it got critical acclaim for its action sequences, ShowDontTell storytelling, and hidden themes and was regarded as one of the best movies of 2015, topping more official Top 10 lists than any other. [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accolades_received_by_Mad_Max:_Fury_Road It ended up being an unexpected Oscar contender]], being nominated for ten awards (including Best Picture) and winning six, the most of that year.
* ''Film/BlackSwan'' is a horror movie, and the director never denied that. (The producers, on the other hand, marketed it as a “PsychologicalThriller”). It also features a lesbian sex scene, [[SexSells just to get eyeballs on it]]. It still got five Oscar nominations and was regarded as one of the best films of the year.
* ''Film/GetOut2017'' is a horror movie about a black man in a white suburb ''and'' [[DumpMonths was released in January]]. It earned acclaim for not only its storyline, but its hidden social commentary, and was nominated for dozens of movie awards, winning quite a few, including the Best Screenplay Oscar, and in doing so became the first horror movie to win a Big Five Oscar since ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' (see above).
* ''Film/TheShapeOfWater'', from the same year as ''Get Out'', is similarly unusual: it's a love story between a [[TheSpeechless mute woman]] and a [[FishPeople fish person]]. It won Best Picture and Director.

!!Spoofs of this trope:

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheMask'' has a shootout sequence where the Mask, after dodging a ridiculous number of bullets, turns into a cowboy and allows himself to be shot -- so that he can give ''several'' {{Final Speech}}es (all {{Shout Out}}s to award-winning movies) and die in another character’s arms. Then the audience cheers, and he gets up and tearfully accepts an award. Even the mobsters shooting him check their hair and straighten their suits as if they were on TV.
* In ''Film/WaynesWorld'', Wayne gives a dramatic, teary-eyed[[note]]He didn't actually cry, he just splashed water in his face[[/note]] speech, while the words “Oscar Clip” are emblazoned over the shot. He even finished it off by claiming to be [[InspirationallyDisadvantaged illiterate]], which he then admitted wasn't true after "Oscar Clip" stopped flashing on the screen.
* From the ''Film/RoadTo'' series:
** At the end of ''Film/RoadToMorocco'', Creator/BobHope's character has accidentally blown up the ship, leaving the main cast [[LostAtSea stranded on a raft]]. Hope [[ChewingTheScenery chews up the scenery]], acting as if they’ve been stranded there for weeks. Then the camera pans up to reveal the New York City skyline. Creator/BingCrosby’s character tells him to calm down, to which Hope bitterly remarks that they’ve ruined his chance for an Academy Award.
** In ''Film/RoadToBali'', Crosby finds the Oscar Creator/HumphreyBogart won for ''Film/TheAfricanQueen''. Hope points out that Crosby already has an Oscar, snatches the trophy from him, and begins making an acceptance speech. (While Hope was never nominated for a competitive Oscar, he did win four Honorary Oscars and hosted the show a recorded fourteen times.)
* In ''Film/DontBeAMenaceToSouthCentralWhileDrinkingYourJuiceInTheHood'', after parodying one of the dramatic scenes from ''Film/BoyzNTheHood'', the main character tells his girlfriend that he’s trying to win the Best Black Actor at the Soul Train awards.
* In ''Film/TropicThunder'':
** One of the [[RealTrailerFakeMovie fake trailers at the beginning of the movie]] shows Kirk Lazarus and Creator/TobeyMaguire playing Irish monks who fall in love with each other in a clearly Oscar-baity film, ''Satan’s Alley''.
** Action star Tugg Speedman reflects on the failure of his Oscar Bait film ''Simple Jack'', in which he plays a mentally-challenged farmhand. It was a total BoxOfficeBomb and called one of the worst films of all time. Kirk Lazarus explains that it’s because people who won for playing InspirationallyDisadvantaged characters never went “full retard”:
-->'''Speedman:''' What do you mean?\\
'''Lazarus:''' Check it out. Creator/DustinHoffman, ''Film/RainMan'': look retarded, act retarded -- not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho’ -- not retarded. You know Creator/TomHanks, ''Film/ForrestGump'': slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off [[UsefulNotes/RichardNixon Nixon]] and won a ping-pong competition. That ain’t retarded. Creator/PeterSellers, ''Film/BeingThere'': infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don’t buy that? Ask Creator/SeanPenn, 2001, ''Film/IAmSam''. Remember? Went full retard, went home empty-handed.
** Lazarus has a lot of experience with these, as he himself is a spoof of Oscar Bait actors. He's a five-time Oscar winner, and that's before ''Satan's Alley''. He mentions having played Neil Armstrong, ticking the "based on a true story" box. His third Oscar was for a Chinese film called ''Land of Silk and Money'', which he prepped for by [[MethodActing working eight months in a textile factory]]. According to [[AllThereInTheManual supplemental material]], one of his five Oscars is for Best ''Actress'', having apparently tackled a CrossCastRole, going UpToEleven with the usual Oscar-worthy physical transformations. In the movie itself, he's attempting that again, having undergone "pigmentation alteration" surgery to play a black man, a move which has generated more in-universe controversy than Oscar buzz. He never breaks character, despite realizing very early on in the film that production is ruined. As the icing on the cake, Creator/RobertDowneyJr actually received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Lazarus.
** At the end of the film, the Oscar for Best Actor is presented. The stills of the nominees include Creator/TomHanks winning a race in a wheelchair and a blind Creator/SeanPenn learning braille.
* In ''Film/{{Bowfinger}}'', black action star Kit Ramsey (Creator/EddieMurphy) weighs in on the trope:
-->'''Ramsey:''' White boys get all the Oscars -- it's a fact!\\
'''Manager:''' I know that, but look--\\
'''Ramsey:''' Did I get nominated? No, and you know why? ‘Cos I haven’t played any of them slave roles, where I get my ass whipped -- that's how you get the nominations! A black dude plays a slave role and gets his ass whipped, they get the nomination; a white boy plays an idiot, they get the Oscar. Maybe I’ll split it; get me a five-minute script as a retarded slave, ''then'' I'll get the Oscar!\\
'''Manager:''' ''(awkward pause)'' Uh, I'm gonna go schmooze. I'll be right back. ''(starts to leave)''\\
'''Ramsey:''' Yeah, and go find that script. “Buck the Wonder-Slave”!
* In ''Film/BlazingSaddles'', villain Hedley Lamarr announces to his gang of thugs near the climax:
-->''You will only be risking your lives, while I will almost certainly be risking an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.''
* The first fifteen minutes of ''Film/InAndOut'' are rife with references to this trope. Creator/MattDillon’s character wins an Oscar for playing a [[{{Gayngst}} gay soldier unfairly discharged from the military]], in a film that appears to be equal parts ''Film/AFewGoodMen'', ''Film/{{Philadelphia}}'', and ''Film/ForrestGump''. The actors he beat: “Creator/PaulNewman for ''Coot'', Creator/ClintEastwood for ''Codger'', Creator/MichaelDouglas for ''Primary Urges'', and Creator/StevenSeagal for ''Snowball in Hell''.”
* ''[[Film/TheNakedGun The Naked Gun 33 1/3]]'' includes a scene at the Oscar ceremony, where all the films were ridiculously HighConcept, like “the story of one woman’s triumph over the death of her cat, set against the background of the Hindenburg disaster,” and “the story of one woman’s triumph over a yeast infection, set against the background of the tragic Buffalo Bills season of 1971.”

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheDrewCareyShow'' parodies Emmy Bait with its fifth-season finale “A [[VerySpecialEpisode Very Special]] Drew”. It includes: a homeless woman giving birth; Kate dying of [[SoapOperaDisease a terminal disease]] on her wedding day; Drew battling his [[CompressedVice heretofore unheard-of]] lifelong illiteracy; Mimi battling her also heretofore unheard-of [[SuperOCD obsessive-compulsive disorder]]; Lewis snapping at people and reflecting on why [[InnerMonologue out lout to the audience]]; Oswald taking up theft to be closer to his imprisoned father; Drew and Lewis volunteering to get shot so that they’d have a good death scene; and Mr. Wick developing an eating disorder. And a LittlestCancerPatient, who gets the emmy.
** ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'' had a sketch where Ryan Stiles has to report the weather as if it were a scene from an Oscar-winning film. He did so by ribbing host Creator/DrewCarey and referencing “A Very Special Drew”.
* ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' has “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award”. It’s nominally about the gang trying to win a Best Bar award, but is actually a LeaningOnTheFourthWall commentary on the fact the show has failed to garner any recognition from the Emmys by having the bars stand in for shows. The gang is going up against a bar straight out of ''Series/{{Cheers}}'' (with a TokenMinority manager for good measure) where the owners make generic and inoffensive jokes, complete with a LaughTrack. The gang tries to model Paddy’s Pub after the bar that wins, such as by making sure they don't have [[MinorityShowGhetto too many black guys present so the judges won't think its a "black bar"]] and trying to create some WillTheyOrWontThey tension between Mac and Dee. [[AwardBaitSong Charlie even decides to write a song for the bar to help them win]]. Ultimately, as with everything they try, they fail spectacularly.
%%* Series/FrenchAndSaunders' take on ''Cold Mountain'', where the Oscar Bait scenes immediately segue into "Zellweger" actually receiving it.
* ''Series/TheChasersWarOnEverything'' sketch [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kj78anyCkM “Oscar Bait”]] spoofs many of the common elements of this trope. It’s a fake trailer for a film about a [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot gay, disabled, artistic Jew]] who’s thrown in a concentration camp during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, trying to tick as many Oscar boxes at once. The lead actor even apparently [[BlackComedy killed himself after the film]] to invoke DeadArtistsAreBetter.
* ''Series/TheFastShow'' spoofs the trope with the film ''Cute Disabled Man'', which wins an award for “Best Portrayal of a Disabled Person by a Fit and Healthy Young Actor Who Wants to Win an Oscar”.
-->''I love you, black man.''
* A ''Series/TheKidsInTheHall'' sketch shows the best actor nomination at an Oscar show. Three of the actors played InspirationallyDisadvantaged (ranging from being deaf to [[AmusingInjuries having a spike in their head]]); their characters give the exact same RousingSpeech with appropriate music. The fourth clip is of a guy playing Theatre/{{Hamlet}}. They award the Oscar to “everyone but the Hamlet guy!”
* ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' had at least one episode that ended with a heartwarming scene and the subtitle: “For your Emmy considerations.”
%%* Parodied in ''[[Series/ThirtyRock 30 Rock]]'' with ''Hard to Watch'', an obvious takeoff on ''Film/{{Precious}}''.
* In ''Series/{{Extras}}'', Creator/KateWinslet’s character plays in a Holocaust movie in an open bid to win an Oscar. Then in 2008, Winslet [[HilariousInHindsight did it in real life]] in ''Film/TheReader''.
* ''Series/TheSoup'' had a trailer for a fictional film called ''The Oscar Movie'', with a voiceover discussing almost every Oscar Bait cliché using clips from that year’s actual Oscar nominees. These include: “women distraught, crying, and/or screaming,” comedians [[PlayingAgainstType in serious roles]], Creator/MerylStreep (mentioned at least three times), and “Creator/JohnnyDepp doing something weird.”
* ''Series/MrShow'' did a sketch about “The Dewey Awards”, which were specifically given to actors who played mentally disabled characters. One winner is a film called ''The Bob Lamonta Story'', about a man who struggles with his own mentally challenged parents (only for Lamonta himself to show up and claim it was all BasedOnAGreatBigLie).
* ''Series/TheKevinBishopShow'' had a spoof trailer for a BAFTA Bait TV drama, consisting solely of the phrase “gritty BAFTA” said with a pained, serious expression.
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'' had a suspect who was an actor, who says he’s playing Creator/MattDamon’s “[[InspirationallyDisadvantaged half-wit]] father” because “it’s got nominations written all over it.”
* In season 4 of ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'', Rebel Alley (Creator/IslaFisher) discusses the possibility of playing Michael’s deceased wife in a movie. After learning that said wife died of a terminal illness, Rebel says that all she needs now is to have her be mentally-challenged as well, and she'll be guaranteed an Oscar for her performance.
* ''Series/MockTheWeek'' [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded the hell]] out of this tendancy.
---> '''David Mitchell''': I'd like to thank the person who cast me as a [[LittlestCancerPatient blind, autistic,]] [[TrueArtIsAngsty Parkinson's-disease-ridden mute]], for making this award almost inevitable.
* ''Series/LateNight'' with ''Creator/SethMeyers'' presents: [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjE9Fl4zKNs Oscar Bait]]: RealTrailerFakeMovie.
* ''Series/LastWeekTonightWithJohnOliver'' has the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cBV8KFFasY Warren G. Harding biopic]] starring a wax sculpture thereof and Oscar-nominated actors.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* There’s a [[http://baitanoscar.weebly.com/index.html monthly online contest]] called “Bait an Oscar”, where contestants write film pitches to be voted on as if they were Oscar contenders. Oddly enough, this is a [[SubvertedTrope subversion]]; most participants tend to be fans of this kind of movie and are genuinely trying to pitch good ideas.
* WebOriginal/EddieAtTheLMV advertised a game called "Oscar Movie Bingo" which determined what movies released each year would more likely get nominated/win an Oscar. Rules included being "based on a true story", longer than 2 hours, and/or [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking one of the highest-grossing films of the year.]] The latter was more a reluctant add-on, much like Eddie's thoughts on past movies that had been nominated for it.
* ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'':
** From “A Very Special, Award-Winning Episode of ''Zorc & Pals''”.
--->'''Florence:''' What's wrong, Zorc? Why haven’t you [[RunningGag destroyed the world?]]\\
'''Zorc:''' I have [[SoapOperaDisease a terminal disease!]]\\
'''Florence:''' You can't die! What about [[HoYay our adopted daughter]]?\\
'''Zorc:''' [[RuleOfDrama She also has]] [[IllGirl a terminal disease!]]
** In ''Anime/YuGiOhBondsBeyondTime Abridged'':
-->'''Yugi:''' [[spoiler:(''holding his grandpa's bandanna'') [[SkywardScream GRANDPAAAAAAA!!!]] (''{{beat}}'')]] Can I have my Oscar now?
* Parodied [[http://www.cracked.com/video_18156_a-trailer-every-academy-award-winning-movie-ever.html in this spoof video]] done by [=BriTANicK.com=] and hosted on Website/{{Cracked}}. It was such a spot-on parody that it even got its own page on TV Tropes, ''WebVideo/ATrailerForEveryAcademyAwardWinningMovieEver''.
* ''WebVideo/{{Kickassia}}'' has this in every scene regarding Spoony’s attempts to avoid “giving in to the madness” (''i.e.'' his EnemyWithin Dr. Insano). He even engages in HamToHamCombat with it.
* In the third segment of [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]]’s ''WebVideo/HistoryOfPowerRangers'' series, he shows a clip of [[Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers Bulk and Skull]] trying to save a bunch of kids from drowning in a lake. They run down the pier in slow motion with inspirational music. Linkara responds by putting "Oscar Clip" at the bottom of the screen. (And it turns out the lake was knee-deep and the children were just playing.)
* ''WebVideo/NerdToTheThirdPower'' host Dr. Gonzo swore up and down that ''Film/{{Precious}}'' would win Best Picture, because “it's about an underprivileged black rape victim who gives birth to an incest baby with down syndrome. I haven't even ''seen'' the movie and I already want to kill myself! It ''has'' to win!" (It didn’t; ''Film/TheHurtLocker'' did.)
* 11points.com had an 11 Points Countdown webisode about the [[http://www.11points.com/Countdown/11_Least_Deserving_Best_Picture_Winners_-_11_Points_Countdown 11 Least Deserving Best Picture Winners]], which claimed that ''Film/TheEnglishPatient'' and ''Film/TheKingsSpeech'' were Oscar Bait. One of the commentators even says that ''The King's Speech'' was blatantly pandering to the older Academy voters, saying that it wouldn't have looked out of place winning Best Picture in 1965.
* On ''WebVideo/MidnightScreenings'', Brad Jones says he thinks calling a film Oscar Bait is an overused criticism. But he says he thinks it fits at least the trailer for the film of ''Literature/TheBookThief''.
* ''Website/CollegeHumor'' made a video on this topic titled [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSNwudFGUOU 21 Steps to Making an Oscar Movie]], including: high-contrast low-saturation lighting, suspenseful piano music, period clothing, disability, drug addiction, low camera angle, suicide, and a lot of other clichés.
* [[WebVideo/GameTheory Game Theorist]] Matthew Patrick on his second channel ''Film Theory'' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdwySyRSgqc spends fifteen minutes discussing]] the formula yielding the highest statistical chance of winning an Oscar.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_B0kgSh_5s Super Deluxe]] released an “Oscar contender” trailer for ''Film/StraightOuttaCompton'', with the joke being that the film was made more appealing to the Academy voters by presenting it as an uplifting WhiteMansBurden movie about the group's Jewish manager.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'':
** Greg and Terry decide to film Stan as he searches for Oliver North's gold in "Stanny Slickers 2: The Legend of Ollie's Gold":
--> '''Terry:''' We are a lock for an Oscar if there isn't a documentary about [[Film/MarchOfThePenguins penguins]] or genocide this year.
--> '''Greg:''' [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs Or penguin genocide.]]
** In a ''Film/JamesBond'' spoof, Roger played the role of Tearjerker, a villain whose EvilPlan is to make a film that’s such a {{tearjerker}}, it will kill anyone who watches it. That film, ''Oscar Gold'', is about a mentally challenged Jewish boy [[TheAlcoholic driven to alcoholism]] by his puppy during the Holocaust, all while hiding from the Nazis in an attic like Anne Frank. And it’s DeliberatelyMonochrome. When that fails, he tries to go even sadder -- six hours of a baby chimpanzee trying to revive its dead mother.
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny has been known to occasionally shill for Oscars with overwrought “dramatic” performances:
** In ''The Wabbit Who Came to Supper'', Bugs pleads with Elmer Fudd to let him into his house, complaining in a very dramatic fashion about the cold. He suddenly perks up and says, “Hey, this scene oughta get me the Academy Award!” Then he finishes “dying”, complete with mournful violins.
** In ''What's Cookin’, Doc?'', he’s so enamored with his “acting” that he crashes the ceremony to demand his Best Actor award.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'':
** One short was an {{Anvilicious}} spoof of not just Oscar Bait, but also the animated awards the show could actually compete with. It started with saving a beached whale and went on from there. [[spoiler:They didn’t win, and everything went to Hell after that.]]
** In a Thanksgiving episode, Miles Standing is out hunting turkeys, while the Warners play Native Americans ''raised'' by turkeys. While Dot waxes eloquent over their hardship, the caption “ACADEMY MEMBERS VOTE NOW!” flashes on the screen.
** During their “Jokahontas” sketch, a TakeThat against Creator/{{Disney}} movies, the song “Same Old Heroine” has this line:
-->''The Schloscar it will win / With the same old heroine / It worked once, why not again?''
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** Creator/BurtReynolds describes his new film ''Fireball and Mudflap'':
--> “I play Jerry ‘Fireball’ Mudflap, a feisty Supreme Court justice who’s searching for his birth mother while competing in a cross-country firetruck race. It's... garbage.”
** An an entry form for Best Documentary is shown to ask entrants to declare if they are “Holocaust-related” or "Non-Holocaust-related”.
** When Marge Simpson attends the Sundance film festival, she discovers that ''all'' the films on display are extremely depressing (including themes like underprivileged transvestites, underprivileged hippies, and Chernobyl) and most of them have ironically upbeat titles.
* Spoofed in ''WesternAnimation/TheBoondocks'' episode “The Color Ruckus”, where Uncle Ruckus tells his depressing life story to Robert, Huey, and Riley, who can’t help but listen because it’s so sad.
-->'''Huey:''' That's like, Academy Award winning sad.
* ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'':
** In “Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow”, when Buster pretends to suffocate in the cage Elmyra put him in, Hamton shows up to give him an award for “Best Death on Daytime Television”.
** In another episode, Meryl Streep receives an Oscar for “Best Ordering in a Restaurant”. She puts it in a purse full of many other Oscars.

* A hilarious musical performance actually took place at the 79th Academy Awards, featuring Creator/WillFerrell and Creator/JackBlack lamenting about how they never win Oscars for their comedy. They sing about beating up serious actors in the audience until John C. Reilly joins them on stage and tells them that they should also do serious films from time to time like he does.
--> '''Reilly:''' Fellas! This madness must stop, there is no need to fear, you can have your cake and eat it too, just look at my career! I didn't cry when I would lose, I didn’t pick silly fights, I chose to be in both ''Film/{{Boogie}}'' and ''Film/TalladegaNights''! Don't just be clowns, ‘cause then you're just bores, mix it up, and Oscars shall be yours!\\
'''Black:''' "He's right! I'm gonna re-read that script about the guy who gets lead poisoning and then sues a major corporation, there's not a laugh in there!\\
'''Farrell:''' "And I'm gonna take that project about the guy with no arms and legs who teaches gangbangers ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''!"