Awards shows are a complete waste of time, but I have to admit I’m really excited about the Oscars.
Since childhood I’ve suffered through every Academy Awards despite myself, all the while boycotting the Grammy’s, Emmy’s, ESPY’s, MTV Awards (both of them, although those boycotts took place a lot more recently than the others), People’s Choice, Tony’s, Billboard Music, NAMBLA’s “Friend of the year” and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
It was getting tougher and tougher to stomach the Oscars however, what with all the retrospectives, tedious musical numbers and a sort of gravity and self seriousness that would make someone think those gold statues they hand out are Nobel Prizes.
I was about to give up on the Academy Awards entirely, until I was introduced to Oscar pools two years ago by my girlfriend. We had only been going out a month or so at the time, and she had been bothering me for weeks to make my Oscar picks. With a half hour before the show I caved, checked out the NY Times and SF Chronicle Oscar predictions online and made my picks accordingly. I even ventured guesses on those categories nobody cares about, like Documentary Short, Makeup and Supporting Actress.
And against all odds, I won. In an upset that rivaled the Warriors winning the NBA Title in 1975, I emerged victorious, even though I had only seen one of the movies nominated for Best Picture, “Letters From Iwo Jima,” and that was only because my girlfriend wanted to watch as many Best Picture nominees as possible.
One year later, with a girlfriend wanting revenge and a couples battle against our next door neighbors at stake, I studied even less…and won again. My girlfriend was happy to beat our neighbors, but losing her beloved Oscars pool to me for the second year in a row drove her absolutely crazy.
That’s because if sports are soap operas for men, the Oscars are like sports for women. While there are women who really appreciate sports where physical superiority is measured, almost all women love sports that require judging. Figure skating, ice dancing, diving and gymnastics are always among the highest rated sports during the Olympics, and it’s not just because NBC crafts all those weepy human interest stories between triple salchows. Women love judging, and the Oscars is full of it. Whose dress is beautiful (none of them), whose dress is skanky and stupid looking (everyone’s, especially that bitch with the stupid flower in her hair…who told her that looked good? And what’s up with that chick’s pantsuit? Doesn’t she know she’s at the Oscars?!?!?!).
That’s why there’s a whole industry revolving around the red carpet, and why anybody cares about the Oscars one minute after the show’s over. I’ve seen my girlfriend watch shows where gay guys analyze dresses and accessories worn on some red carpet the day before, and it’s like a bizarro version of Ron Jaworski dissecting how to attack a zone blitz.
But enough about that, the more important part to me is the part where I beat my girlfriend. How did I do it? I have a few tricks, which I’m going to impart right now. I probably should be worried about jinxing myself with this advice and ruining my two year winning streak, but I figured since I haven’t even made my picks yet, the following tips wouldn’t force me to eat crow:
Two years ago, my girlfriend, worried about winning her family’s Oscar pool, spent time at work taking notes on every Oscar category. She left no website unclicked, reading everybody’s Academy Awards predictions from Roger Ebert to Roger Lodge. I read stuff for a half hour and beat her by two correct selections, 18-16. Last year she spent another week studying. I researched for 18 minutes and prevailed 17-16 (our neighbors went 16 and 15, hence our team victory). Just like before any live fantasy draft where you bring too many magazines and cheat sheets, you can ruin your chances by overanalyzing, overthinking and overstudying the Oscars.
What makes the Academy look better?
Everyone knows the Academy loves anything retarded or disabled when it comes to Best Picture or Actor in a Leading Role (especially when packaged with Tom Hanks or Daniel Day Lewis), but the power of latent guilt goes for all categories. If you haven’t seen one minute of a documentary since college and you’re battling between two different choices for Best Documentary Feature, here’s a sample list of subjects in order of how likely they are to win the Oscar, and this goes for nearly every category (except makeup and costume design, which always go to the British period piece).
1. The Holocaust
4. The environment
11,874. How cool guns are
The Crying Game
No, not the movie, although anything transgender is pure Oscar gold. I’m talking about how much each nominated film will make Academy voters shed tears like Dick Vermeil at a goodbye press conference. Last year I didn’t know one Animated Short from another, but I knew there was one called “Peter and the Wolf.” Live action movies with animals don’t have a chance at winning Academy Awards (especially those vile films where the animals’ mouths move via CGI), but animated movies with animals are always tear-jerkers. I don’t even know if “Peter and the Wolf” was even that sad, and I don’t care if I ever know. That would be overthinking.
Who “deserves” it
The Academy is like a sentimental version of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead of worrying about what performance was the best, the Oscar more often than not goes to somebody who has waited their turn. That’s why Martin Scorsese won Best Director for the extremely flawed “The Departed,” which served as a lifetime achievement award for “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas” and all the other far superior movies that didn’t include horrendous Boston accents from Jack Nicholson.
Remember that when Kate Winslet tries to win her first Oscar after getting nominated six times, or when Sean Penn goes for his second “Actor in a Leading Role” Oscar in five years.
Of course, I saw “Milk” myself and can’t imagine how Mickey Rourke’s performance in “The Wrestler” could possibly surpass what Penn did this year. Wait, I’m totally overanalyzing this. I shouldn’t worry about any of this Oscar stuff until Sunday at 4:45 pm, while my girlfriend is simultaneously poring over her notes and critiquing whatever Anne Hathaway’s wearing.