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Shrewd DVD strategies reap rewards with Oscar nominations

February 2, 2010 |  1:11 pm

So how did "A Serious Man" pull off that underdog Oscar nomination for best picture? Perhaps because it was among the first wave of DVD screeners shipped to academy members, long before the deluge of discs that arrived during the holiday season.

Such an early-out-of-the-gate strategy certainly helped "Slumdog Millionaire" in last year's derby as it romped to victory with eight wins, including best picture. And it might have helped land lead acting nods last year for Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") and Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), whose DVDs were among the first dozen discs to get into Oscar voters' hands. Likewise for this year's lead actress contender Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and supporting actor nominee Woody Harrelson ("The Messenger").

Other films that did well in past derbies, like "Juno" (2007) and "Hustle and Flow" (2005), were also delivered to the mailboxes of Oscar voters early in the award cycle. Early bird "Little Miss Sunshine" landed four Oscar nominations in the 2006 derby, including a bid for best picture, and reaped two wins: supporting actor (Alan Arkin) and original screenplay (Michael Arndt).

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While getting out early has its obvious advantages, as that shrewd Oscar campaigner Harvey Weinstein has told me, it can be a good idea to be the last movie seen too. Thus the film is fresher on the minds of voters. This year, Warners used that strategy with "The Blind Side" and landed a surprise best picture nomination as well as a lead actress bid for Sandra Bullock.

Below is Gold Derby's exclusive list of when DVD screeners were received by all 5,800 Oscar voters.

CALENDAR OF SCREENERS

JAN. 22, 2010 — "Avatar"

DEC. 31, 2009: "The Hangover"

DEC. 28: "Sherlock Holmes," "The Lightkeepers"

DEC. 24: "The Blind Side"

DEC. 18: "Crazy Heart," "The Princess and the Frog," "Broken Embraces," "The Last Station," "The White Ribbon," "It's Complicated," "Tyson"

DEC. 15: "Nine," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Monsters and Aliens"

DEC. 12: "Me and Orson Welles," "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond"

DEC. 11: "Invictus," "Star Trek," "The Lovely Bones," "Up in the Air," "Creation," "Inglourious Basterds," "The Road," "A Single Man"

DEC. 10: "Public Enemies," "It's Complicated," "This Is It," "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"

DEC. 7: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

DEC. 5: "Brothers"

DEC. 4: "Capitalism: A Love Story," "The Men Who Stare at Goats"

DEC. 3: "The Hurt Locker"

DEC. 1: "Precious," "Bruno"

NOV. 27: "Where the Wild Things Are," "The Informant!," "Two Lovers," "Funny People"

NOV. 25: "District 9," "Julie & Julia," "Pirate Radio," "Away We Go," "Taking Woodstock," "A Serious Man," "Coraline," "Up," the animated feature "9," "The Boys Are Back"

NOV. 17:  "(500) Days of Summer," "Bright Star," "The Young Victoria"

NOV. 16: "An Education," "The Messenger"

NOV. 6: "The Stoning of Soraya M."

OCT. 26: "Coco Before Chanel," "Whatever Works," "The Damned United"

OCT. 8: "Anvil!"

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Illustration by Ty Wilson 

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