As an ethical exercise, it would be hugely spirit-lifting if just one greatly-admired performance could land an Oscar nomination without the support of a costly campaign. Just one instance in which the Academy at least nominates a performance that doesn’t have big dough behind it…no payoffs, no Hollywood Elsewhere ads, no industry party schmooze, no post-screening q & a’s, no drinks on the house. I understand, of course, that the vast majority of Academy nominations come out of this process, and I’m certainly not complaining about this…hardly! I have my hand out along with everyone else’s.

But what if there was an Academy rule stating that in each acting category, a sixth nomination would be pro bono and go to any deserving performance that has NOT been promoted for whatever reason? Or which hasn’t been campaigned for because a certain actor or actress has a distaste for campaigning or is working on a new film and can’t get away or whatever?

How about if just one performance this year could receive this tradition-defying largesse?

In other words — yes, again — I’m urging special consideration for Obvious Child‘s Jenny Slate in the Best Actress category and Locke/The Drop‘s Tom Hardy in the Best Actor realm. If not for Hardy and Slate then for the ethical distinction of such a move. For the sake of its soul the Academy needs to be able to look in the bathroom mirror and say, “Yes, nominations and awards are bought and paid for, but not 100% of the time. For occasionally we nominate a non-campaigned-for performance simply because it turns us on and we’ve fallen in love and can’t help ourselves.”

If the Academy were to implement my pro bono and reduce deadwood influence suggestions the Oscars would be a whole different ballgame.

These two suggestions aside I honestly want the whole delightfully corrupt system to continue as it has. I am benefitting fairly nicely by it, and I want to keep things that way. I love that line in The Sting when Paul Newman‘s Henry Gondorf is telling Robert Redford‘s Johnny Hooker about the good old days with O’Shea’s mob, and that grin on his face when he says “and it really stunk, kid.” I get it, believe me. Way of the world.

Demian Bichir‘s nomination for his performance in A Better Life, almost entirely self-funded, probably falls under the heading of pro-bono. But what about Nick Nolte in Warrior, Woody Harrelson in The Messenger, Amy Adams in Junebug, Alec Baldwin in The Cooler and Janet McTeer in Tumbleweeds.