The Oscar campaign trial features a host of tried and true tactics nominees use to goose their chances of scoring the golden statue. There’s the endless stream of Q&A sessions with gawking journalists, the cozying up to powerful producers and voters, and the talk-show circuit so dizzying that it becomes impossible to tell your Fallon from your Kimmel.
This year, however, there seems to be one campaigning trick trumping them all: tears. From typically stone-faced Robert De Niro’s blubbering to Katie Couric to Anne Hathaway getting verklempt over Catwoman, here’s a look at what’s become the Oscar Campaign Trail of Tears.
Robert De Niro
Critics and pundits have relished the mocking of this year’s Best Supporting Actor lineup, a roster of some of Hollywood’s most curmudgeonly, notoriously cranky, and taciturn men. Robert De Niro uncharacteristically set himself apart from his cohorts on that list with an interview Monday on Katie Couric’s talk show, during which he began weeping while talking about Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell’s personal connection the film’s subject matter, bipolar disorder. With the fellow nominees Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Arkin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Christoph Waltz either emotionally monotone or completely M.I.A. from the awards circuit thus far, a little emotion from Bobby D. probably did a lot to help his Oscar odds.
As if Hugh Jackman didn’t already have an unrivaled ability to melt hearts, he upped the ante in a touching 60 Minutes interview, crying about how his father raised him after his mother left the family. “Dad used to pray every night that Mum would come back.” Sob!
Anne Hathaway has been full of tales of tears while making the rounds this awards season. There’s the time she broke down after her hair was chopped off into a boyish pixie cut during production of Les Misérables. (Understandable.) There was the time she was moved to tears by watching her own performance in Les Misérables. (OK ... so were we.) Then there was the time she started crying at the thought of starring in a Catwoman spin-off. (Maybe she’s just a really emotional person?)
Accepting the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, Jessica Chastain slipped into a cry-voice so many times that it almost sounded as if she had contracted a rare voice-modulation disorder. She choked up discussing her long slog to stardom, thanking her team, and acknowledging director Kathryn Bigelow’s contributions to the entertainment industry. It was a shrewd move—everyone loves a good weepy acceptance speech—but Chastain could stand to turn the dial up on the actual waterworks, à la the Halle Berry School of Speech-Giving.
The outpouring of love for Ben Affleck after he was snubbed for a Best Directing Oscar nomination is heartwarming enough to make anyone cry. But it’s Affleck himself, nominated at the Academy Awards for producing Argo, who’s been returning the love. While accepting the SAG Best Ensemble award on behalf of his Argo cast last month, Affleck got so worked up about his great actors that his voice caught and his eyes welled up with tears. Delivering such exuberant, emotional speeches at the early awards ceremonies, Affleck is nailing his audition for Academy voters to give another for Best Picture on Oscar night.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Parents
Jennifer Lawrence was already the most relatable girl on the campaign trail—if not Hollywood altogether—and made yet another push for the title of Best Friend Everyone in America Wants with an adorable interview she gave with her parents after winning a SAG Award. It’s not Lawrence but her mother who starts crying when Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell asks how it feels to see her daughter achieve so much success. Lawrence’s endearing response: “Mom, stop crying…God, this is embarrassing.” Humiliating? Maybe. But excellent campaigning.
Bradley Cooper’s long journey to serious actor—and not just Sexiest Man Alive—began 11 months ago with an appearance on the venerable chat show Inside the Actors Studio. Perhaps he was eager to show his dramatic range. Perhaps he was tired. Perhaps he’s just implausibly emotionally brittle. Either way, Cooper collapsed into heaving sobs on numerous occasions throughout the interview, including this instance in which he wipes tears while talking about his former acting teacher.
OK, Steven Spielberg isn’t actually crying in this clip. He’s telling Oprah about a time he was so overwhelmed with emotion during the production of Lincoln that he had to step away from set. Steven Spielberg crying! Can you imagine anything more wonderfully heartbreaking?
Tommy Lee Jones
Just kidding. Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t register emotion. Though one time it was rumored that the left corner of his lip curled up into the slightest of smiles.
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