This year's Academy Awards ceremony will give those who tune in more than just beautiful gowns and A-list stars to ogle over. Oscar films from past and present can offer business and life lessons for viewers, according to author Marley Majcher.
The film starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. was nominated for five Oscars in 1997 and had one win. Jerry's decision to start his own company has spawned the "Jerry Maguire Moment" in business, Majcher said. This is a lesson to follow your heart, not your bank account.
“Make the decision to choose integrity like Jerry,” says Majcher, “and then, should the opportunity arise, go change the world starting with your own.”
This 1988 movie was nominated for six Oscars the next year, and won one for Best Original Song. Melanie Griffith's Tess McGill had a very chic, very streamlined idea: Dress the part you want, act the part you want - not the part you have. Then go after it, like Tess, Majcher said.
This 1976 movie was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three in 1977, teaching viewers more than just the value of a good workout, Majcher said. Sylvester Stallone's Rocky is all about never backing down from fighting for what you want, against all odds.
“Rocky taught us all how to fight. Not just with our fists, but with our fervor,” Majcher said. “In life or business, we all have at least one passionate fight in us.”
This romantic classic came out in 1934 and won all five Oscars it was nominated for in 1935. Majcher said the awkward yet intimate relationship between spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews and hungry reporter Clark Gable shows that happiness is not synonymous with money or fame. Both, eventually, gave up what they perceived they wanted for what they truly desired, she said.
The namesake character in 1994's "Forrest Gump" was a success at every turn thanks to his focus, Majcher said. The film was nominated for 13 Oscars in 1995, and won six.
During a pivotal point in Forrest’s life, a soldier gave him a bit of advice about ping pong, “Now the secret to this game is, no matter what happens, never, never take your eye off the ball.” This is great life advice as well, she said.
This movie swept the 2011 Oscars, with 12 nominations and four wins including the coveted Best Picture statue. King George VI, known by his family as “Berty”, had one main duty to perform as King: to speak for his people, despite his stutter. The one thing he had to accomplish he felt was impossible, Majcher said.
“We all face impossible tasks in our business – reaching a certain income, increasing our production, streamlining our processes, being that success we all dream about,” she said. “But Berty showed us something monumental, that the impossible rarely is impossible. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.”
This Best Picture contender for 2012 stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, Oakland A's general manager, who rewrites the game of baseball. Armed with computer analyst Peter Brand, Beane looked at the problems plaguing the poor, underrated team from a different angle, and got creative with their resources. No more following the beaten path. They beat out a path for themselves, Majcher said.
Another 2012 Best Picture nominee, this film tells the story of maids Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, and their thankless jobs at the beginning of the Civil Rights Era in Jackson, Mississippi. They face countless obstacles but still give their jobs all they have.
“What you are doing matters less than how you do it,” Majcher said. “You may not yet be living your dream. But wherever you are, whatever you are doing, give it everything you’ve got. It’s not only the recipe for happiness; it’s the path to success.”
This 2008 movie about the caped crusader had eight nominations at the 2009 Oscars and two wins. Batman takes this advice from his trusted butler, Alfred, “Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.
In business, you are confronted with many choices, Majcher said, and although the right decision isn't always easy, it is worth making.
This 1965 classic about a woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a naval officer and widower was nominated for 10 Oscars in 1966 and won five.
"'The Sound of Music' taught us to think about our favorite things, that doe is a female deer, to never sit in a chair without checking it for acorns first, and that standing on your principles will take unbounded courage," Majcher said.
Here are lessons from ten Oscar movies past and present you can use to inspire your business and life.