Why the Oscars love method actors

Why the Oscars love method actors

Almost half of all Best Actor and Actress awards have been won by method actors since 1951.

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Method acting’s foundational theory originated in the Soviet Union during the early 20th century. It was created by Konstantin Stanislavski and his peers at the Moscow Art Theater as a framework for systematically training young actors. Method acting became influential in the US in the ’30s and ’40s, pioneered by Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner, each of whom transformed and built on Stanislavski’s system.

Today, training in method acting is ubiquitous for aspiring actors. But at the same time, the stakes of method acting continue to rise. First popularized in the US during the 1950s by Marlon Brando’s generation of Hollywood stars, method acting continues to be a consistent way for actors to push themselves in new roles. But while method acting won Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar for his performance in The Revenant, it’s undeniable that the way method acting is promoted is conspicuously marketable. Still, it has undoubtedly led to some of the greatest performances of all time.

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81 Responses

  1. Vox says:

    Getting excited for the Oscars? Let us know in the comments who you think will take home Best Picture this year, and compare your thoughts with our expert analysis on vox.com: http://bit.ly/2F7xfyW

    • ongo bongo says:

      Vox no

    • Maverick Majorani says:

      I don’t believe Oscars anymore…..

    • Abhas Pandia says:

      best picture will go to shape of water. but i liked get out more..

    • arthur4350 says:

      There are a numbr of factual errors;

      1) Method Acting in the modern form was developed by Lee Strasberg in the Actors’ Studio New York, inspired by Konstantin Stanislavki’s System but there are many divergences between Strasberg and Stanislavski.

      2) Stanislavski’s System was developed in the late 19th Century for the legendary Moscow Production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. It wasn’t developed in the Soviet Union. Stanislavski lived a long life and yes was a loyal citizen of USSR but by that time his system and ideas was updated and revolted by newer doctrines in the late 20s and 30s. And it was only then that it came into fashion in America especially in the Chicago Group Theater where Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg and others first apprenticed and trained.

      3) Stella Adler is an equally important if far less famous acting teacher than Strasberg (who coined the phrase Method Acting). Two of her students were Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro. So technically it’s even debatable if the two most famous “method actors” are actually method actors since they weren’t really taught by the guy who started it all.

      4) Not all actors use method all the time, and each actor shifts and alters as per the role. And Stanislavki’s system was more subtle and nuanced than what you have listed here.

  2. Himel Ty says:

    Adam Sandler is a God then……

    • Agent Migs says:


    • JewsLikeFunk says:

      Jay Kay Adam is actually phenomenal actor. He’s just chosen to delve into silly slapstick comedies, since I guess he found a schtick. You should watch Reign Over Me, Spanglish, and more recently The Meyeorwitz Stories.

    • LB2007 says:

      Adam was actually very good in Punch Drunk Love, where he played a non-Sandler-ish role. I wish he hadn’t typecast himself as an annoying man child.

    • Igor Kolosha says:

      @LB2007 Agreed.. I can’t stand the dude’s acting or movies, but Punch Drunk Love was fantastic.

  3. D Sharma says:

    In India it’s the other way round.

  4. Siddharth Patel says:

    Why inception didn’t get an oscar? Vox tell me

    • LayDeLeadSheepInChina says:

      leo should have like 5 now

    • Sarym says:

      Which 5?Again..Just because he appears in good movies consistently,doesn’t mean he should be handed an oscar directly.Question is in which years was he the best out of all the nominees?Do people even watch the other movies that are nominated?

    • LayDeLeadSheepInChina says:

      Sarym True I just think that some of his performances were pretty good like Inception

    • Adolf Hitler says:

      Because it’s exposition overload and is basically a less interesting Paprika (Which the movie ripped off).

    • Chizom Wali says:

      thinking inception is a great movie in 2018 hahahahah

  5. Pyrotechnical says:

    37th XD. Who’s after?

  6. ankit soni says:

    Donald trump is method actor too

  7. Hellicat says:

    Why Oscars love METH* actors

  8. Matt Kid says:

    Gary Oldmans performance was phenomenal from start to finish in the Darkest Hour.

    • Sally Vee says:

      VB MUTT Oh, I’m critical of those two wins as well. DDL was nominated in a year that wasn’t too competitive, but Leo’s win was totally a Lifetime Achievement Award. He should have won for Gilbert Grape/Aviator/Wolf of Wall Street.

      It’s why I’ve lost interest in the Oscars. I don’t want to watch who is overdue an Oscar. I want to watch who had the best performance in the given year.

    • Sally Vee says:

      PietreADI DDL surpassed both as far as I’m concerned.

    • Sally Vee says:

      Joe Coe John Lithgow turned in a superior Churchill performance than Oldman, and he did it for Netflix without the ridiculous prosthetics. Oldman’s performance will be long forgotten my this time next year.

    • Subhankar Banerjee says:

      A little over the top, I would say.

  9. Justin Y. says:

    So this is why Tommy Wiseau never won an oscar.

  10. TheRogue says:

    I mean i get the dedication to the preparation for the role, but is this really acting? Like can’t they just try to act?

    • Willow4526 says:

      It’s alot easier to act something you’ve done than something you haven’t. So method acting helps people improve there performance. Obviously some people are able to pull of equally amazing performances, but it’s probably a difference in whether there a mental or physical learner/preparer in this case.

    • bimapringgo says:

      Reminds me of what Laurence Olivier said to Dustin Hoffman when they were shooting Marathon Man. Hoffman told Olivier that he stayed up three days straight in preparation to play a character that had stayed up three days straight. Olivier then said to him, “Why don’t you just try acting?”

    • Ellie Scott says:

      this is always my thing with method acting, like i get that they’re putting in a ton of work but at the same time isn’t it more impressive as an actor to ACT like you’re eating raw bison liver or whatever? if you actually do it, like, respect, but i feel like that’s not really acting?

    • TheNovelNovelist says:

      Exactly. Rather than method acting, these actors should try…you know, acting.

    • Erik Rensberger says:

      Method acting is acting, just as much. It’s just a different approach to studying for a role.

  11. Red says:

    3:51 “Heroes never die!”

  12. Jack III says:

    Rooting for Margot Robbie here! She is phenomenal!

  13. ifurkend says:

    Tom Cruise to me is forever an eccentric Scientolgist.

  14. Zack Irvine says:

    Should I buy the Samsung s9 or the I phone 7+ ?

  15. Rigby says:

    My favourite actor Christoph Waltz was phenomenal in Inglorious Basterds

  16. javvs says:

    Oscar’s are meaningless.

  17. Hendiatetris says:

    The Oscars are about narratives. Leo won his Oscar because the campaign behind his movie made it seem overdue and necessary after his previous losses. Matthew McConaughey won because his ‘McConaissance’ was *the* thing that year. Alicia Vikander was the season’s shooting star and she won her award, etc. Studios pump millions into those campaigns and make sure everything is all set for the big night (safe for some Academy wackiness like Mark Rylance’s win over Stallone and the likes)

    • Skrooge Lantay says:

      Basically, whoever can front the most money & gifts gets a higher chance of winning an Oscar.

      Hollywood in a nutshell.

    • Hendiatetris says:

      Events like the Governor’s Ball and special Luncheons are basically made to allow nominees to suck up to the Academy. As mentioned, Mark Rylance was sort of an outlier since he skipped all those events and kept working as a theater actor. But generally, you don’t win unless your studio wants you to…

    • bigpimpdaddy69 says:

      Hendiatetris Sometimes the best roles actually win the awards. Leo had the best performance that year when he won for The Revenant. While i would have liked for Sly to win, Mark Rylance did put out a great performance. Alicia Vikander wasn’t really in a strong field in 2015 for best actress. I think she should have been nominated for Ex Machina instead. Not every single Oscar nomination is built on a narrative, has an agenda, or is trying to say something. The best performance does in fact win sometimes. Shocking i know because it’s always fun and never boring to endlessly dissect every single thing like where in Oliver Stone’s JFK.

    • Hendiatetris says:

      It’s a little pointless to argue about singled out instances (sorry for doing so in my initial post, guess we’re down that road now) since they are obviously debatable, as always in arts. Michael Fassbender could have been recognized for his turn as Steve Jobs the year DiCaprio won. That’s not to say Leo didn’t deserve to but he was the sole frontrunner, partly due to a strong campaign.
      In my personal opinion, Vikander was better in Ex Machina and Rooney Mara ought to have beat her anyway – then again, Mara shouldn’t have been in Vikander’s category anyway since she was more of a lead than Cate Blanchett in Carol, but that’s a whole separate issue.
      Point is, I was overgeneralizing and of course no one wins an Oscar for a terrible performance. It’s just not enough to be a good artist and a lot of money can sometimes go a long way…

  18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic says:


  19. Vicente Ortega Rubilar says:

    Method acting started in Russia.

    Because in Mother Russia roles play you.

  20. L-Train 45 says:

    Pausing at 1:33. Only (exactly)1/4 of method prepared actors won. The grapic argues strongly *against* the Title and whole thesis of the video

    • Andrew Leslie says:

      Not really, especially considering method acting, as we think of it, is a fairly recent phenomenon. I wonder what the percentage would be if we removed all years where the nominees didn’t include “method” actors, and see how often they won out of the remaining years.

    • skoockum says:

      You need to look up the definition of ‘completely destroys’.

    • L-Train 45 says:

      It’s a phrase, It is not defined by any dictionary. A substitute singular word might be ‘eradicates’. You might say I knew what you meant. I might also say you knew what I meant.

    • skoockum says:

      The force is strong with this one 🙂

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