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Introducing the New Pajiba Oscar Bait Ranking System

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | November 30, 2014 | Comments ()

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | November 30, 2014 |


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It’s that time of year again: when movies can’t just be movies, they’re contenders. We’ve already talked at length on this site about what exactly constitutes “Oscar bait.” Just because a movie deals with big issues and comes out during a certain time of year, does that make it bait? Of course not. But you can only see the same tropes show up movie after movie, year after year, without inducing an automatic eye-roll. There are certain themes and characteristics that, when they show up in a movie, only mean one thing: they’re campaigning. Period pieces, severe weight loss (or gain), mental illness and the like— these are Harvey Weinstein’s grabby hands. Does your movie center around a white dude (or lady) saving a bunch of African orphans? You’re getting an Oscar. Does the film start with a title card reading those five magical words, “Based on a true story”? You’re at least getting a nomination. Here’s the current ranking of this season’s contenders, based on the new Pajiba system of one to five Sandra Bullocks in The Blind Side.


Boyhood
True story - Nope
Period piece - Nope. Well, kinda. Does spending some of its time in the 90s count as a period piece? I’m gonna say no.
Physical fuggening - Not really. Characters aged and changed, but it was natural.
Crazypants - Nope.
White savior - Nope.
Final Score: Zero Blind Sides. Well done, Boyhood. You made a great movie without any cheap tropes.

Selma
True story - Check
Period piece - Check
Physical fuggening - No
Crazypants - Assumed no.
White savior - I don’t think they’re Mississippi Burning-ing this one.
Final Score:
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Birdman
True story - Nope
Period piece - Nope
Physical fuggening - Nope
Crazypants - Everyone in this movie was straight-up nutso. (Except maybe Zach Galfianakis, amazingly.) But I wouldn’t call it Oscar-level crazy. Half a Blind Side.
White savior - Nope. No one’s trying to help anyone in this movie.
Final Score:
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The Imitation Game
True story - Check
Period piece - Check
Physical fuggening - No, everyone’s very dapper.
Crazypants - Check. Cumberbatch was made of tics and social anxiety.
White savior - Savior of WWII, yes. But there were zero people of color in this movie, so “White Savior” doesn’t really apply.
Final Score:
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Unbroken
True story - Check
Period piece - Check
Physical fuggening - The main character spends 47 days living on a raft, and another 2 1/2 years in a POW camp, so I think we can expect some dramatic weight loss. Probable check
Crazypants - No. Maybe? Unknown.
White savior - He lives in a Japanese camp, but the characters of color are then likely the villains, not the needy.
Honorary point for a Christmas Day release date. That’s the film equivalent of a “Very Special Episode.”
Final Score:
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The Theory of Everything
True story - Check
Period piece - Check
Physical fuggening - Check. Eddie Redmayne’s physical deterioration in this movie was INCREDIBLE. To call it Oscar bait really does insult the performance, but rules (that I made up) are rules.
Crazypants - No
White savior - No
Final Score:
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Gone Girl
True story - No
Period piece - No
Physical fuggening - Not unless you include this terrible smile:
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Crazypants - Oh yes. This went beyond crazy to full psychopants.
White savior - Nope.
Final Score: blindsideface.jpg

Foxcatcher
True story - Check
Period piece - Can you call a movie set in the 1980s a period piece? That doesn’t seem like long enough ago, but I guess technically it counts.
Physical fuggening - Oh yes. Double check. Or maybe one and a half. One for Carell’s nose and Tater gets one for the jowls, but his constantly visible thighs may cancel it out.
Crazypants - Steve Carell definitely crossed the line from “eccentric” to “nutso,” but it was more subdued that Silver Linings Playbook. Ruling: no point.
White savior - Negative
Final Score:
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Rosewater
True story - Check
Period piece - No
Physical fuggening - No
Crazypants - No
White savior - No.
Final Score:
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American Sniper
True story - Check
Period piece - Nope
Physical fuggening - Double check: a pudgy Cooper and a brunette Sienna Miller. Because bravery.
Crazypants - No
White savior - Negative
Final Score:
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Our Winner: Congratulations, Unbroken. You are have the tastiest (or at least not at all subtle) Oscar bait. This in no way suggests you will ACTUALLY win an Oscar. It just means you’re trying the hardest. Like really, really way too hard. You’re sweating a little, Unbroken. See to that, won’t you?


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