Now that this year’s Oscar nominations have been announced, spin doctors all over Tinseltown are readying full PR offensives for their clients in hope of generating buzz that translates into votes and, ideally, a mantle’s worth of statuettes on March 26.
Now that this year’s Oscar nominations have been announced, spin
doctors all over Tinseltown are readying full PR offensives for their
clients in hope of generating buzz that translates into votes and,
ideally, a mantle’s worth of statuettes on March 26.
An early indication of the most effective campaigns came a week before
the nominees were announced when the Publicists Guild of America
announced nominations for top motion picture campaigns of 1999.
Among those flicks that got the nod were American Beauty and The
Talented Mr. Ripley. The Oscar fortunes of the two films clearly
illustrate what PR can - and can’t - do when it comes to getting the
attention of Academy voters.
With American Beauty snagging a Golden Globe for Best Picture and
several other major critics’ awards, a PR campaign reminding voters of
the accolades is a given. But for star Annette Bening, competing in the
hotly contested Best Actress race, PR played a more critical role.
The usually publicity-shy Bening has been a newsstand staple over the
last few months, appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair with husband
Warren Beatty and beaming beatifically from this month’s Good
Does this affect Oscar voters? One can’t be sure, but the barrage of
stories certainly can’t hurt. Clearly, the strategy makes Bening stand
out as a bona fide star among her lesser-known competition.
’This year’s race has a lot of nominees who aren’t necessarily household
names,’ said one studio insider. ’The strategy to put Annette out there
in a big way seems to reinforce the idea that she is the most seasoned
actress in the group and a genuine movie star. Hollywood loves
But while Ripley garnered kudos for its PR campaign, the effort didn’t
win over the Academy. Though just about everyone believes that last
year’s full-frontal attack by Miramax (which jointly produced Ripley
with Paramount) helped Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan
for Best Picture, lightning simply didn’t strike twice for the
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. After timing the film to come out
over Christmas (like Shakespeare and other Miramax Oscar winners before
it), star Matt Damon appeared on numerous magazines covers and was a
virtually inescapable presence on the daily chat shows. Miramax muse
Gwyneth Paltrow and man-of-the-moment Jude Law did their share of print
interviews as well. But the exposure seemed to do more for the actors
than for the film.
’The film just didn’t meet expectations,’ said one critic. Seems Mr.
Ripley wasn’t talented enough, after all.