What does it take to win an Academy Award? Acting skills? Yes. Good looks? Usually? A role in a film that reflects the social experiences of the judges? Bingo.

In a recent study at the University of Queensland, researchers analysed Best Actor and Best Actress winners at the Oscars and BAFTA awards in the past four decades, and found some definite trends when it came to nabbing the coveted trophy.

The team of psychologists found most winners were actors who shared social characteristics with Academy members.

In other words, American actors in American films about America are more likely to win an Oscar, and British actors in British films with a British storyline are usually frontrunners for a BAFTA.


But while this particular research looked at how judges perceive performances based on their own social identity, there are more factors that should be considered.

That's why I've done my own analysis of Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars, and come up with a foolproof formula for winning a shiny thing.

1.Get a leading role in a feature film

There's really no getting around it.

Your chance of winning awards for being a leading actor in a film is vastly improved if you are, for real, a leading actor in a film.

Granted, with only about 10 per cent of professional actors working at any time, and only a minuscule proportion of those in leading roles, this part of the process is relatively difficult. But once you're over this first hurdle, the rest is a cinch.

2. Play someone with a big problem

Poverty. War. Serious illness. In life, these are humanity's most challenging crises, but on the screen, they are awards-night gold.

Think about it. If Julianne Moore had had chickenpox instead of Alzheimer's in Still Alice, there's no way should would have been standing on the podium in 2015.

If Kate Winslet had played a waitress instead of a Nazi guard in The Reader, someone else would have taken her place on the red carpet.

3. Be a good crier

You never really learn to act until you learn to cry.

And if you want an Oscar, you'd better master the quivering chin and tears on cue. I'm not talking about blubbering during an acceptance speech, when it's already too late for the judges to change their minds.

I'm talking good, solid, big-screen sobbing.

Think Matthew McConaughey, sitting in a car racked with agony in Dallas Buyer's Club.

Or Meryl Streep's sending-your-daughter-to-the-gas-chamber anguish in Sophie's Choice. If you can get a bit of face-mucus happening without smudging your make-up, the prize is as good as yours.

4. Stick something on your face

What's a feature film without extra features? The list of actors who have won an Oscar by attaching something to their face is long and impressive, a bit like Nicole Kidman's nose in The Hours.

Charlize Theron's award-winning performance as Aileen Wuornos in Monster was helped along by a set of prosthetic teeth. Jamie Foxx wore fake eyelids throughout his brilliant portrayal of Ray! And Natalie Portman owes at least a little of her success in Black Swan to her painted contact lenses.

5. Try not to die

This is a good rule of thumb for life in general, but especially important in a movie role. Try to stay alive right until the end of the film, or as close as possible.

Russell Crowe succumbed to his injuries in Gladiator, and Tom Hanks didn't make it to the last scene in Philadelphia, but they managed to hang out for long enough to make the story work.

By contrast, if the bear in The Revenant had succeeded in offing Leonardo DiCaprio, I doubt the actor would have a statuette in his cupboard.

Mind you, dying isn't absolutely out of the question for Oscar-winning actors. For instance, Peter Finch won the Best Actor award posthumously for his 1976 role in Network. But I wouldn't recommend it as a strategy. Dead actors don't get invited to afterparties.