The Third Annual Pajiba Academy Award Telecast Quiz and Contest
It's that most exciting time of the year, movie fans, and thus I bring you our third annual test of your Oscar predictive abilities. You'll be picking winners for some of the questions, but we also like to mix it up with a little outside-the-box speculation.
We're doing this the low-tech way. Leave your answers as letters in the comments section, and I'll score them. (If a ludicrous number of people participate, I request that you be extremely patient.)
What's the prize? Your choice between an Oscar-winning DVD (title to be determined) or -- should you be in the LA area anytime in the near future -- my treating you to one of the guided tours of the Dolby Theatre (f.k.a. the Kodak Theatre), home of the Oscars. I've still never made that trek myself. Of course, the real prize in these parts is bragging rights, isn't it? I myself have spent the last two years spinning yarns about the legendary expertise of previous winners Margrete and =DocDoom=, and I can only assume that their new social status means that they'll never have to pay for their own drinks in a bar again!
If you have insider knowledge of the Oscar ceremony that applies to these questions, you are ineligible to win. This means you, Adele. This means you, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Never mind: my craving for any brush with fame implies that I would happily share the Dolby tour with one of you.
To all that aspire to win, my only advice is that a little Internet research can go a long way toward giving you an edge in this contest.
1. Seth MacFarlane (he of Family Guy, Ted, and dating-the-Khaleesi fame) has the reins on the hosting duties this year, folks. This might thrill you regarding the show's comedic possibilities. Then again, it might fill you with dread regarding the show's comedic possibilities.
First up: how much of MacFarlane's best-known works will make their way into the televised program? Choose the best answer.
A) There will be a Family Guy reference - a mention, a voice performance, etc. If for some reason a presenter or award recipient brings it up, it counts.
B) "Ted" himself will appear in the Dolby Theatre, either in plush, costume, CGI, or motion-capture form. (Shown clips from the film or recorded footage of Ted do not count for this question.)
C) Both A) and B).
D) Neither A) nor B).
2. In this question, you will guess about my personal reaction to something that happens in the ceremony. To let you know a little about myself and inform your answer, I loathe Family Guy, I thought MacFarlane did a decent job in his appearance on the Bill Maher show once, my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and I do have a somewhat morbid sense of humor, but I'm typically a tough sell when it comes to making me laugh. Also, I have not seen Amour as of the writing of this quiz, but I do plan to watch it before the ceremony, as it's the only Best Picture nominee I have not yet seen.
Presumably, MacFarlane (or his song-and-dance accompaniment) will mention all nine of the Best Picture nominees in the opening performance or monologue, and probably it will be done in some cutesy fashion. When someone says "cutesy," the first thing that comes to mind is Amour, right? The Amour reference(s) that occurs will:
A) make me groan, cringe, and/or roll my eyes. (Think a joke about death that's in poor taste, or perhaps a rehash of Hugh Jackman's joke a few years ago about not having seen The Reader.)
B) provoke a smirk, a chuckle, or better. (Think a well-executed joke about death, or perhaps a quip about not understanding French.)
C) be some combination of A) and B).
D) produce no discernible response from me.
3. Last year we played the "Scorsese" game. This year the magic word is "Lincoln." Keeping in mind the movie has twelve nominations, how many times will "Lincoln" be uttered aloud throughout the entire course of the program? Taped programs, presenters, announcers, winners, and anyone else count. I don't recommend taking a shot each time you hear it.
A) 12 - 15
B) 16 - 19
C) 20 - 23
D) 24 or more
4. In this quiz, most of the Oscar wins you'll be predicting are the ones for which the "experts" are fairly divided on projecting the winner. You will not have the chance to receive the easy credit of answering "Daniel Day-Lewis" or "Anne Hathaway" - no matter how many milkshakes you've stolen or diaries you've penned while pretending to be a princess.
Here's your first one: Which movie takes the Production Design prize?
A) Anna Karenina
B) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
C) Les Miserables
D) Life of Pi
5. Here's another tough one. What wins Best Costume Design? (Who would have guessed one day we'd be seeing two Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs remakes in the same Oscar category? )
A) Anna Karenina
B) Les Miserables
D) Mirror Mirror
E) Snow White And The Huntsman
6. This one is a bit of a crapshoot. Which of these announced Academy Award presenters will fulfill his or her presenting duties at the latest point in the ceremony?
A) Kristen Stewart
B) Liam Neeson
C) Paul Rudd
D) Jessica Chastain
E) Jennifer Lawrence
7. True or false: At least one award recipient will acknowledge unrest and conflict in the Middle East during an acceptance speech. For the purposes of this question, a mention outside an acceptance speech does not count. (Yes, I used this question the last two years. I'm still reminded of a sad joke I once heard in which God acknowledges that Middle East peace is beyond even his vision.) If there's a Best Documentary Feature upset, it could determine the answer to this question.
8. I usually tune out the fashion hubbub, but for fun for the first time I'm going to include a fashion question in my quiz. Taking the dresses of the following fifteen ladies into account, what will be the most frequent color (including its shades) worn on Oscar night: Kristen Stewart, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Garner, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayek, Melissa McCarthy, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Meryl Streep, and Octavia Spencer? Note: my rudimentary skills at color distinction will be the final arbiter on determining the color of any given dress. Multi-color dresses will be disqualified from consideration. If any of the colors below tie for the lead, the leaders all will be counted as correct.
G) None of these.
9. I wasn't that into Life of Pi, but I'm a sucker for animals. How many times will we hear the name "Richard Parker" during the proceedings? This includes all mentions both pre-recorded and live, but for the purposes of this question it must be the two words "Richard Parker" together. A simple reference to a "tiger" is insufficient.
C) 2 or 3
D) 4 or more
10. I always hold out hope for the fulfillment of this question. True or false: at some point during the ceremony, someone who is not scheduled to be on stage will pull some sort of publicity stunt and make an appearance. (For the purposes of this question, the proxy appearance of Sacheen Littlefeather for Marlon Brando when he refused his Best Actor Oscar would have counted. An incident in the Kanye West / Taylor Swift ballpark obviously counts.)
11. Which film takes the prize in the aforementioned Best Documentary feature category?
A) 5 Broken Cameras
B) The Gatekeepers
C) How to Survive a Plague
D) The Invisible War
E) Searching for Sugar Man
12. Best Documentary Short Subject is a mystery to me this time around. Good luck calling this one correctly ...
B) Kings Point
C) Mondays at Racine
D) Open Heart
13. True or false: at least ONE award winner will at some point during an acceptance speech apologize for forgetting someone or acknowledge that he or she is doing so. (We have had this question the last two years as well, and I was surprised when not a single winner fumbled in this manner. These folks have prepared well for their big moments.)
14. An Oscar voter once told me that it is impossible to distinguish from the finished product of a film what precisely went into Sound "Mixing" and what went into Sound "Editing" on any given film. Thus, you'll sometimes see the two categories swept by the same film, assuming that there is overlap in the favored nominees. What happens this year?
A) Argo wins both Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
B) Skyfall wins both awards.
C) Life of Pi wins both awards.
D) Musical Les Miserables takes the mixing win and something else wins editing.
E) None of the above.
15. Best Live Action Short Film is another tough call. Give it a try ...
B) Buzkashi Boys
D) Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
16. Which movie wins the prize for Best Original Score?
A) Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
B) Alexandre Desplat, Argo
C) Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
D) John Williams, Lincoln
E) Thomas Newman, Skyfall
17. Hail to the underappreciated writers! Who wins for Best Adapted Screenplay?
A) Chris Terrio, Argo
B) Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
C) David Magee, Life of Pi
D) Tony Kushner, Lincoln
E) David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
18. Jennifer Lawrence is the current strong favorite, but Emmanuelle Riva or Jessica Chastain perhaps could sneak in for the win. Quvenzhane Wallis and Naomi Watts round out the field as the long shots. Regardless of who is making the speech, how long will the Best Actress' speech be: over or under 150 seconds? (150 seconds was the approximate length of Natalie Portman's speech two years ago. Meryl Streep commanded the stage for 146 seconds last year.) I'll be running the stopwatch.
19. Best Supporting Actor is not easy to predict this year. For the first time in Academy Award history, we have five former winners competing in an acting category. Who wins?
A) Alan Arkin, Argo
B) Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
C) Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
D) Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
E) Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
20. All this Oscar parity is confusing. Argo might be the Best Picture favorite, but it was not even nominated for Best Director. Lincoln has the most nominations, but it's conceivable that it could win only one award. Life of Pi does not have any acting nominations, but with 11 nominations it could accrue multiple awards elsewhere. When the final tally is made, what number will represent the most Oscar wins for any single film this year?
A) 3 or less
D) 6 or more
21. Who is this year's Best Director? (Apologies to Mr. Affleck and Ms. Bigelow: it won't be either of you - at least not officially.)
A) Michael Haneke, Amour - the render of hearts
B) Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild - the rookie
C) Ang Lee, The Life of Pi - What genre hasn't this former winner skillfully covered?
D) Steven Spielberg, Lincoln - former winner, Mr. Reliable, and the "Mayor Of Shark City"
E) David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook - the guy whose filmography is knocking on the door for recognition
22. What will win Best Picture?
A) Argo - Problems in the Middle East? Hollywood to the rescue!
B) Life of Pi - Who can resist an island of meerkats?
C) Lincoln - That anecdote about George Washington and the British toilet sells it. Hooray for the shooting location of Richmond, Virginia!
D) Silver Linings Playbook - If only I could find ultimate heartwarming victory through a dance contest and the result of an NFL game.
E) Any of the other five Best Picture nominees! Yes, you get the rest of the field with this choice! (I know early powerhouses Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables are in here, but the pundits say you probably should go with one of the other choices.)
23. The tried and true tiebreaker: to the nearest minute, how long will this broadcast monstrosity run? Keep in mind that the buzz is we'll be getting lots more song and dance this year than usual!
If this thing is still tied after that, we go to a random drawing. Good luck, movie fans, and thanks for participating!
C. Robert Dimitri does not care about Oscar snubs, who wins, and who loses. However, he does enjoy the ceremony and loves the dialogue about film that the Academy Awards inspire this time of year. He wishes you a fun viewing and thanks you for your participation in this trivial contest!
To assist in answering the above quiz, you can copy/paste the question numbers into your comment:
Don't forget to join us on Sunday night for Courtney's live-blog of the Oscars, where you can snark along and keep up with the scoring on your Quizzes. See you Sunday!