Actors typically brush aside questions about Academy Award-worthy performances, insisting the work itself is reward enough. Christopher Guest’s comedy “For Your Consideration” shows the consequences for performers who let themselves be consumed by Oscar buzz.
“I’ve known people who have gone through this exact thing where someone has come up to them in a seemingly innocent way and said, ‘I saw your work and you should get XYZ,”’ Guest told The Associated Press at the Toronto International Film Festival, where “For Your Consideration” played. “It’s devastating, because in every case I know of, and these are personal recollections, they haven’t even been nominated, much less won. So they’re blindsided.”
Director Guest and writing partner Eugene Levy, whose previous collaborations include “A Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show,” wrote the scenario and co-star with their usual ensemble of gifted improvisers, including Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard and Jane Lynch. The film debuts in theaters in November.
Unlike their previous movies, fictional stories presented as documentaries, “For Your Consideration” is a straight narrative centered on a small, uninspired film called “Home for Purim,” about a fractured Southern Jewish family’s holiday reunion that features a journeyman cast of actors who never quite made it.
An Internet blogger who visited the set says one of the actresses (O’Hara) gives an Oscar-worthy performance, taking her aback and planting outrageous dreams of Hollywood glory. Soon her co-stars (Posey and Shearer) are grabbing awards attention and fantasizing about Oscar glory.
“It’s not about winning the Oscar. It’s about how it affects the actor in terms of how you see yourself,” Levy said. “Your perspective on yourself, your perspective on your worth. People think your work is better than you thought it was yourself. Maybe you’re better than you thought you were.”
“It’s kind of like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ or something,” Posey said. “It just kind of permeates everything, and people start acting differently around you. They get all caught up, and then you get all caught up. It becomes like a drug in and of itself.”
The film takes its title from a ubiquitous phrase during awards season, the words “For Your Consideration” plastered over ads in Hollywood trade papers used to remind Oscar voters of movies and performances.
The phrase carries a “weird touch of courtliness in a savage business. ‘Would you be so kind just to perhaps merely consider our humble work as worthy of your attention,”’ said Shearer, slipping into a haughty British accent. “And what they mean is, ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t vote for this!”’
Ironically, “For Your Consideration” could end up playing a part in the upcoming awards season. The Golden Globes, which include a comedy category, might recognize the film and its performances.
Guest and company have been through the awards rigamarole for the Grammys, Globes and other prizes. McKean and wife Annette O’Toole had a 2003 Oscar nomination for best songwriting with “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” from “A Mighty Wind,” a tune performed at the ceremony by Levy and O’Hara.
“It was the best way to go to the Oscars,” O’Hara said. “There’s no winning, no losing. We weren’t even nominated.”
And if any of the “For Your Consideration” cast ever were in the running for nominations?
“I wouldn’t be cool at all. I think I would pretend to be cool, but I think I would revel in it,” Coolidge said. “I’d be thinking about it all the time. I’d try to contain it, but I think I’d be a jerk.”
Shearer said his “For Your Consideration” character “speaks for me when he says, ‘It’s an honor to be almost nominated.”’