Oscarathon 2016 Thunderdome: Best Picture Contenders

In All, Movies by Kyu

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.

The Fighters

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.

PredictionThe Big Short will bet against itself, throw the fight, get rich, regret everything.

thunderdome_oscars_titles_bridgeofspiesLogline: Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Stewart playing a principled lawyer who defends an accused Soviet spy and then journeys to a divided Berlin to negotiate a prisoner exchange for America.

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

PredictionBridge 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

PredictionBrooklyn 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

PredictionMad 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.

PredictionThe 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.

PredictionThe Revenant would do anything for revenge, but it won’t do that.

thunderdome_oscars_titles_roomLogline: A woman is held captive as a sex slave in a tiny room, along with her five-year-old son.

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

PredictionRoom 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!