Film and TV

The Oscarator™: Here's Your Best Chance at Winning an Academy Award Nomination

We've all been there. You finally get around to watching this year's nominees, and you think, “Didn't I see pretty much this same Oscar-bait movie last year?” You probably did, thanks to the McKee/Weinstein-driven formula behind most Best Picture noms. You can even build your own! Just mix and match elements from the six surefire nominees we've broken up into these five categories:

A minority professor (Eddie Redmayne) finds love while facing historic challenges
Leonardo DiCaprio as a man mourning the death of his wife
Tom Hanks as a man resembling what Steven Spielberg wishes his dad had been like
An American solider (Bradley Cooper) who is super brave and super scarred, but screwed over by bureaucrats
An immigrant from times when immigration seems quaint and exciting rather than scary (Marion Cotillard and/or Saoirse Ronan)
An action hero who kicks ass in the only nominee that normal people have seen

Old-timey Princeton
The Old West, but monochromatic and sad
The Cold War, but with buttery, heavenly light blasting through every office window
Middle America's idea of the Middle East
A CGI New Amsterdam that goes kind of watery in the couple shots you see of it
Mars or the wasteland or Middle Earth or something

How hard physics and/or oppression are
How hard making the movie is
The Russians and the Germans and also some American bureaucrats
1. Taliban 2. ISIS 3. Liberals
The old world's (and screenwriters') insistence on making women prostitutes
Tom Hardy's probably available

No-Hope Low Point 15 Minutes Before the Happy Ending:
Walton Goggins makes a big thing out of using a slur white folks actually used all the time back then
The white hero dies, weeping for his wife, until a Native American heals him with spirit magic
DEFCON 1/The hero's son cries because he has no one to play catch with
The extended scarification of the Americans' flesh
That louse might be married already!
He's been shot, and he already lost his bulletproof vest!

Dialogue That Producers Will Quote in Oscar Speeches:
“An action and reaction comprise one single interaction — especially in matters of the heart.”
“You, Pale Man, fight for us all.”
“You've taught me that you Russkies hug your kids, too.”
“That flag never means more than when it's holding in your entrails.”
“What does it matter where I'm from? I'm an American now.”
“I always wear a second vest.”
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Alan Scherstuhl is film editor and writer at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
Contact: Alan Scherstuhl