This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. But we’ve learned, by the dust of them all… the Kraken learned. Now, when pop culture gets to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! In this edition of The Thunderdome, eight Best Picture Academy Award contenders enter, but only one leaves. You know the law.
These are your contenders for Best Picture in 2016…
Logline: A handful of smart people in the financial industry saw the ’08 crash coming and got rich instead of telling anybody.
Genre: Educational caper film that sours into tragic issues piece
Fighting style: Wall Street brawling
Weapons of choice: Paying other people to fight for it, explanatory celebrity cameos
Best asset: Great metaphors, like a game of Jenga and then something bad happens
Greatest weakness: Which group of assholes are we supposed to be rooting for, again?
Most likely to: Gloss over the human impact of stuff; cut away to a montage for no reason.
Prediction: The Big Short will bet against itself, throw the fight, get rich, regret everything.
Genre: Cold War-era Frank Capra social/legal drama followed by Spielbergian historical thriller/comedy of manners
Fighting style: Lawyer-fu
Weapons of choice: Secretly deadly coins, diplomacy, wall
Best asset: Tom Hanks’ excellent and subtle performance
Greatest weakness: Story forced to be less compelling than it could be by reality
Most likely to: Stop in the middle of the battle to gaze up in awe at something off-screen
Prediction: Bridge of Spies will exchange one blow for every two.
Logline: A young girl leaves Ireland to find a new life in America, but misses the place she left behind.
Genre: American immigrant romantic melodrama of approx. 2.243 hanky quotient
Fighting style: Bare-knuckle boxing
Weapons of choice: Distractingly attractive costumes, hauntingly sad Gaelic songs, subtle hometown traps
Best asset: Saoirse Ronan’s performance, a pitch perfect script by Nick Hornby
Greatest weakness: Nobody can pronounce Saoirse Ronan’s name.
Most likely to: Have its orchestral score swell to an inappropriate degree
Prediction: Brooklyn will have trouble choosing sides.
Logline: In post-apocalyptic Australia, a loner helps a group of women escape a patriarchal society via epic car chase.
Genre: Mad Max movie/travelogue
Fighting style: Demolition derby
Weapons of choice: Exploding spears, sawed-off shotguns, feminism
Best asset: Phenomenal production design, direction, cinematography, action, and FX work
Greatest weakness: Not enough flame-throwing guita–okay who am I kidding, it has no weaknesses.
Most likely to: Be witnessed
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road will go the distance, and then turn around and come back just to fuck you up.
Logline: An astronaut abandoned on Mars must survive with the help of Science™ until Earth can put together a rescue mission.
Genre: Survival adventure (ala Robinson Crusoe) and thrilling tale of the power of human knowledge and ingenuity (ala Apollo 13)
Fighting style: Science, bitches!
Weapons of choice: Chemistry, botanty, math, freeze-dried excrement
Best asset: Rousing sense of hope
Greatest weakness: Mark Watney is a fun but not very deep character.
Most likely to: grow up to be a space pirate.
Prediction: The Martian will build some sort of deadly potato cannon out of drinking straws, a pile of canvas, and human spit.
Genre: Gritty revenge Western and survival story
Fighting style: Bear style wushu
Weapons of choice: Single-shot rifles, knives, bows and arrows, water, cold, long takes
Best asset: Beautiful, horrible long takes; Tom Hardy.
Greatest weakness: Thematics too muddled to justify a grueling running time
Most likely to: survive.
Prediction: The Revenant would do anything for revenge, but it won’t do that.
Genre: Life is Beautiful: SVU
Fighting style: Desperation
Weapons of choice: Deception, endurance, William H. Macy’s unbearable sadness
Best asset: Excellent cinematography, solid direction, Brie Larson
Greatest weakness: Definite and indefinite articles
Most likely to: Uncomfortably blunt the edge of uncomfortable truths
Prediction: Room will lie to make you feel better.
Logline: An elite investigative journalism unit uncovers a massive story about Catholic priests molesting children in Boston.
Genre: Docudrama, journalism
Fighting style: Wrestling with the truth
Weapons of choice: the pen (it’s mightier than the sword), guilt, shame
Best asset: Strong performances from an entire ensemble
Greatest weakness: Would have been better as a documentary
Most likely to: Discover its own complicity
Prediction: Spotlight will make you regret picking a fight with a movie that buys ink by the barrel.
There you have it! All of these films are worthy in one way or another, but only one of them can take the top prize. Tune into our full, live Oscar coverage tonight!