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What if nerds won the Oscars? 85th Academy Awards edition

Posted by on February 23, 2013 – 8:20 am

Nerdvanatron 9000The Academy Awards are this Sunday evening, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to fire up the Nerdvanatron 9000 and determine who should win the Oscars based purely on “nerd cred.”

Once again Hollywood has shut out the best movie of the year – The Avengers – as if seeing the incredible Hulk knock the stuffing out of Loki, the prince of mischief, shouldn’t be considered high-art. (Harrumph!) So with “What if nerds won the Oscars?” we take the Academy’s nominations, be they lame or legit, and figure out who should win based solely on a complex algorithm of geek appeal and nerdcentric history.

The 85th Academy Awards show is going to hosted by funny man and Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane, which should make for an evening of witty voice impersonations and sharp observations; and if you are as disappointed by The Avengers snub as I am, never fear, the cast of the super-team flick is said to be making an award presentation during the show.

So let’s get this party started and if you disagree with our picks be sure to leave us some comments and let us know who you think should win. Nerdvanatron, activate …

Best Supporting Actress Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Amy Adams has played small roles in both Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she also played the voice of Polly Purebred in the Underdog film. Those are minor credentials but she won’t really have decent nerd distinction until we see how she performs as Lois Lane in the upcoming Man of Steel movie. Helen Hunt and Jacki Weaver have nearly no cred whatsoever, but Sally Field was great as Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man. Anne Hathaway heated up The Dark Knight Rises last summer and don’t forget she also gets credit for playing Agent 99 in Get Smart.
Winner: Anne Hathaway

Best Supporting Actor Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

We’ve got to go clear back to 1991 and The Rocketeer to dig up some nerd cred for Alan Arkin, but his role as Peevy in that film is a pretty substantial confirmation. Philip Seymour Hoffman seems to steer clear of full-on nerdy roles, but Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Captain Shakespeare in Stardust was a fun surprise. Christoph Waltz’s connection to Quentin Tarantino gives him a considerable amount of clout, but not as much Tommy Lee Jones gets for playing Two-Face in Batman Forever and Agent K in the Men in Black trilogy.
Winner: Tommy Lee Jones

85th Academy AwardsBest Actress Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Jessica Chastain played the CIA analyst who found Osama Bin Laden, so that has to mean something; and what’s nerdier than a brainiac-chick sitting in front of her computer for years trying to accomplish some impossible task? Of course Jennifer Lawrence has the whole Hunger Games thing going for her and Naomi Watts played Ann Darrow in the remake of King Kong. The older French actress, Emmanuelle Riva, and the young actress, Quvenzhané Wallis, are pretty much out of the running on this one.
Winner: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Actor Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)

This one is a no-brainer. Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington combined have almost zero dark geek credentials. (Although I’ll give a little credit to Phoenix for Signs and to Denzel for The Book of Eli and Virtuosity.) But Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. ‘Nuff said.
Winner: Hugh Jackman

Best Director: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts Of The Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life Of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin and David O. Russell don’t have an ounce of nerd credit among them; on the other hand Ang Lee has directed the nerdcentric Hulk and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But even Lee can’t hold a candle to veteran geek Steven Spielberg who has directed more nerdy films than I can count on the fingers of both hands, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones movies, the Jurassic Park films, War of the Worlds and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This one is too easy.
Winner: Steven Spielberg

Best Animated Feature Film Nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

Every film in this category has its own nerdcentric qualities just by virtue of the fact that they are all animated movies. But three of them double-down on their nerdiness combining state-of-the-art animation with genre themed story material. ParaNorman delves into the supernatural, Frankenweenie taps into classic monster films and Wreck-It Ralph mashes up multiple video games into a cohesive and endlessly entertaining story.
Winner: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Picture Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Let me start by saying how annoying it is that the Academy can’t narrow the nominations down to five titles (they same way they’ve done it for decades.) Making the Best Picture nominees a list of nine is nothing more than a blatant attempt to sustain the shelf life of additional films and keep those cash registers ringing up ticket sales. I don’t fault them for wanting to make money, but it’s rather hypocritical when your biggest moneymaker (i.e. The Avengers) is not even on this long list.

There are only four films here that have any kind of geekcentric roots. Argo has connections to the “King of Comics,” Jack Kirby, and the science-fiction novel, Lord of Light, written by Roger Zelazny (read more about it HERE). Django Unchained is directed by Quentin Tarantino, who is unarguably the greatest film nerd ever. The fantasy aspects of Life of Pi make it a contender and the “analysts as heroes” aspect of Zero Dark Thirty gives it some nerd cred as well.

Of all the Best Picture nominees, I have to say I probably enjoyed Django Unchained the most, and Django and Life of Pi are the only films on the list that I have liked enough to see twice. But the Nerdvanatron doesn’t factor in likes or dislikes and the films & performances are solely weighted on their geek value.
Winner: Argo

To warm up for the big awards show you can watch the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards, hosted by Star Trek’s Chris Pine and Avatar’s Zoe Saldana, right now – just click here. Or delve into Oscar’s historical database for hours of facts, figures and fun – click here.