It’s Oscar season again, when we all huddle in blankets and leave out milk and cookies for the Film Academy Grinch so that he won’t steal our children and leave copies of Grown Ups 2 in our Oscar Stockings. Of course as we all know from the Bible, the only way to truly save ourselves from the grisly fate of the Film Grinch is to correctly guess the winners of the three most important Oscar categories (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Make-up and Hair Styling). Also fortunately for you, I have a mole inside of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and so below I’ve included a brief synopsis of each nominee and its likelihood of winning the prized Oscar statue with a gooey chocolate center.
12 Years a Slave (Best Picture, Best Director for Steve McQueen)
12 Years a Slave follows the exploits of a Middle manager for a company that makes auto parts for Ford Motor Trucks, hence he’s a slave to the corporation, man. Over the next twelve years he gets married, becoming a slave to patriarchal convention, man, and eventually he begins drinking, becoming a slave to alcoholism, man. After twelve years he gets fired from the auto parts company and has to try and find a job again, starting from the very bottom and becoming a slave to the sagging economy, man. Directed by Steve McQueen, actor in such films as The Great Escape and Bullitt I’d say the percentage of winning ranges from 1841% to 1980%.
American Hustle (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for David O. Russell)
This year’s prestige piece on racism in American politics, Russell posits that perhaps the greatest hustle hoisted on the American people has been the racial profiling in the ABSCAM fiasco of the 1970’s and 1980’s. The film focuses on FBI agent Paco Fernandez as he attempts to shed light on the underlining racism of American politics in New Jersey as some white guy (played by Jeremy Renner) tries to become Mayor. Fernandez’ pleas fall on deaf ears, however, and thus the film transcends racial politics and becomes about the futility of life and the Sisyphean struggle of it all. I’d say it has 7% chance of winning, 50000% is Russell styles his hair in an elaborate comb-over for the awards ceremony.
Captain Phillips (Only Nominated for Best Picture, a loser for sure)
Tom hanks is on a boat! It’s so much fun, he’s getting tan and talking to all of his friends about how great it was to be in Big and The Terminal and Joe Versus the Volcano when suddenly a bunch of pirates hop on board (and not the fun Johnny Depp kind). “Give me an autograph!” yells Pirate leader Barkhad Abdi, “I have a son back home who’s a big fan of the Toy Story series”. “Oh, what’s your son’s name?” asks Tom, terrified but keeping cool just like he did back in Apollo 13. “Oh, you caught me. It’s for me. I love you Tom Hanks” says Adbi, ripping open his shirt to reveal a Tom Hanks tattoo. “That’s okay, EVERYBODY loves me!” shouts Tom, and the party resumes. Although it stands a 71% chance of winning Best Picture, Tom Hanks is sure to win Best Actor through sheer force of charisma and will.
Dallas Buyers Club (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Make-up and Hair Styling)
Tumbleweeds scurry across the empty roads under the watchful eyes of coyotes and the setting sun makes the shrubbery seem on fire in the middle of West Texas. Lights turn on in an old auction house, people flock in like moths drawn to the light. The auctioneer quiets down the whispering men in suits as the auction begins “Ladies and Gentlemen, today we sell Dallas. Bidding begins at-” The Auctioneer is cut off, Matthew McConaughy stands and raises his tiny fan “Yes, Hello. I would like to buy Dallas”. The rest of the movie is about McConaughy (playing himself) trying to out bid everyone for the ownership of Dallas, though, they all decide that the bidding and conspiring to own the city is more fun than actual ownership. SO they set up a secret shadow club that meets and discusses how they’ll first buy Dallas, then the world. 1985% chance of winning, thanks to McConaughy’s thrillingly ambiguous performance (why exactly DOES he want to buy Dallas? We never know, and perhaps its best that way).
Gravity (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alfonso Cuáron)
A Woman Astronaut and a Man Astronaut are in space being astronauts. But Oh No! Space stuff flies into other space stuff which makes space stuff happen. IN SPACE. Eventually Manstornaut dies but comes back as a ghost (still in space), and Woman Astronaut has to fly through the atmosphere and fight fire monsters being held captive on a Chinese Spacecraft (still in space). This is all rendered in thrilling 3D, so you can see space in space and experience what it would be like if you were an astronaut in space. 9.8% of winning. In space.
Her (Only nominated for Best Picture, directing robots doesn’t count as directing)
In a dystopian future robots have taken over the world and forcefully impregnate men to carry terrible cyborg babies which will then be sued to conquer the rest of the galaxy. One such man is Theodore (Joaquin Pheonix) who is kidnapped from his home by a seductress in the form of a super-intelligent AI (Scarlet Johansson) and i lured into the horrific robot compound. Theodore is kept away from his loving wife (Amy Adams) and his three non-cyborg kids and plots his escape from the compound along with some other prisoners/breeders. Theodore eventually has to martyr himself for the future of mankind (it turns out he’s actually carrying a human baby who may turn the tides of robot oppression), and baby Joshua is raised by Theodore’s wife to travel back in time and stop Skynet. Unfortunately it only stands a 3-5% chance of winning due to the fact that Sci-Fi epics like this one never win Oscars.
Nebraska (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alexander Payne)
Will Forte and Bruce Dern play a son and father (respectively, although presumably the father was also a son, but we never really get that backstory which is a shame) who are on a fun bonding road trip south from Montana to pick up millions of dollars and see the Italian countryside. Unfortunately first they have to drive through Nebraska. They drive. And drive. And drive. They run out of things to talk about and try to find a good radio station: No dice, it’s all country. Not even a good 80’s hit station. Dern tries to think of something to say. He decides it’s best just to look out the window. Ugh: More corn. “Are we still in Nebraska?” asks Dern. “Yeah, Dad. 80 more miles” replies Forte. “Oh. I don’t think I like Nebraska”. 1867% Chance for Best Picture, 77354% for Best Director.
Philomena (Only Nominated for Best Picture, come on Judi Dench, couldn’t you have made your character have horns?)
Philomena (Judi Dench) is a woman who had to give up her only child years ago so she could live in a convent, and a journalist named Martin Sixsmith (played impeccably by Steve Coogan) take sup her story in order to regain his hope in humanity. Sixsmith’s search for Philomena takes him across the British isles and eventually to America, and along the way he and Philomena’s daughter (Mare Winningham) discover that maybe the world isn’t so bad. This all changes when it’s revealed that Philomena is a spy for the British government, taking over the mantle from the long dead 007, and she’s attempting to infiltrate the evil organization SPECTRE. Sixsmith finally meets up with Philomena on a beach, right before a diamond-faced assassin attempts to take her life. BANG BANG BANG go the guns, and it’s revealed that Sixsmith’s adventure has just begun. Part one of the four part spy series, Philomena will keep you guessing from start to finish. 4417% chance of winning, thanks to Dench’s Neeson-esque aptitude for violence and her “particular set of skills”.
The Wolf of Wall Street (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese)
Steps echo through the White House, Secretary of State john Kerry (played by himself) rushes into Obama’s office (Obama also plays himself). “Sir, it’s the economy, it’s… it’s NOT WORKING ANYMORE!” shouts Kerry. Obama lights a cigarette and stares out the window, “I know John. It’s Wall Street. No one’s there, and so the economy’s crashing”. “WHY?! WHY BARACK?!” weeps Kerry. “Because the entrie street has been taken over by a pack of ravenous wolves”. Kerry and Obama hatch a plan just crazy enough to work, they’re going to grant an insane prisoner known only as “The Wolf Hunter” (Leonardo DiCaprio) pardon from Gitmo if he can break into Wall Street and fight off the wolves. The Hunter, who claims to be innocent of his crimes of murdering Cincinnati, teams up with the one person he trusts: Wildlife expert Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and together they learn that the only thing more dangerous than a pack of ravenous wolves are stock brokers who haven’t been able to walk into a room and shout numbers at computer screens. 714% chance of winning Best Picture, Millions upon millions of percent chances for winning Best Director.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Only Best Make-up and Hair styling, it got snubbed for Best Picture)
Johnny Knoxville plays Irving Zisman who just got out of prison and is looking to patch things up with his estranged son, Greg Harris’ Chuck. It becomes clear that Irving won’t be able to make amends with Chuck, but he finds out that Chuck has a son, Billy, and Irving and Billy instantly hit it off. Irving takes Billy out for a day, against the wishes of Chuck, and tries to open up to this youngster (It’s difficult for Irving, his father beat him and to escape he had to go fight in Vietnam where he saw a lot of people get killed). Unfortunately Irving falls into old habits, and by the end of the day he’s getting carted back to Prison. “I’m sorry, Kid, I guess I’m just a bad grandpa” says Irving, but Billy looks up with tears in his eyes and says “No Pep-pep, you’re the best grandpa”. It should be an 86% chance of winning, but as Irving well knows life isn’t fair and so it probably only has an 8% chance of winning.
The Lone Ranger (Nominated only for Best Make-up and Hair Styling, living up to its name of being a Lone Ranger)
Agent John Reid works for the Texas Rangers and he’s hunting down an escaped fugitive who’s hiding out in a seedy hotel outside Marfa. He guzzles sunflower seeds and pitch black coffee, the kind that’d wilt flowers, as he gazes at the door thinking that if he stares hard enough he might just be able to develop X-ray vision. Then the car door opens, and Johnny Depp’s character (Known only as “Ski Mask” as he’s wearing a ski mask the entire time) holds a gun up to Reid’s head. “Hey. You wanna hear me do a wacky high-pitched voice?” asks Ski Mask. “Get away from here. I’m on a job, and I got to do this alone” rasps out Reid. “Waka Waka!” exclaims Ski Mask, flapping his arms like a bird, “YOU WANNA SEE MY HAT?”, Ski Mask takes out a large hat with a dead crow on it. he proceeds to make loud bird calls. Reid realizes that he’s got a long day ahead of him, in the most uproarious and outrageous buddy cop movie since Rush Hour. 221% chacne of winning every Oscar from now to eternity, all thanks to Johnny Depp and his hats.