April 22, 2019

Oscar Predictions

“Goldberger in Oscarland”

Digging Deep for the Winners

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer

I peered out my window. It was Oscar picking time. But no help seemed forthcoming. Over the years I’ve depended on the kindness of strangers to help make my selections. Last year the politically innocent squirrels who call my backyard home (a fat bunch since named The Goldberger Squirrels) made the treacherous journey across an angrily blockaded George Washington Bridge to deliver a packet containing the “winners” names. Previous years saw me kidnapped by aliens and spirited away to their planet where, Elvis, alive and in exile, supplied the cherished picks, graciously served up with a peanut butter and banana sandwich.


However, with no such succor made available this go-round, it was apparent I’d have to take things into my own hands. But how is that done? I decided that wandering aimlessly, apparently the strategy this year of those presidential hopefuls on the wrong side of the aisle, might be the, er, right course of action. Thus I took to the streets which, strangely enough, all seemed to begin looking like Paris on a rainy night…in the late 1800s. I looked at the store signs, you know, Boulangerie, a lot that ended with et Fils, but none that said “Oscar Picks.” This wasn’t going to be easy.


Seeking sustenance to bolster me in my quest, I sidled up to a hot dog vendor sited under a streetlamp. He greeted me with a brusque, “You’re late!”


“Huh? Do I know you? I’m looking for…”


“Mais oui, Le Oscars. Je sais.”


“Is it actually masculine? Le Oscars?”


To that, he edified, “It’s probably Les Oscars…y’know, plural.”


“It’s not a collective noun?”


“I don’t know, pal…I’m not really French. I just took this gig in your imagination to help support me until I could find work in a more important person’s illusions. So here, eat this hot dog, and then go down that manhole. I’ll help you lift the cover.”


I ate the dog…a surprisingly good, all-beef, perfectly boiled dirty water variety, topped with mustard, sauerkraut and sweet relish. If only the bun had been toasted. Smacking my lips, I queried, “Manhole? Will I find the Oscar picks down there? What’s down there?”


“I don’t know…this is all they told me. But hey, sewers of Paris…whadda yuh think is down there? I’d guess Druids, trolls and the like…probably real big rats…maybe some godforsaken, unthinkably frightening mutant forms, but, hopefully, also, at the end of it all, some beautiful vision, kind of like Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, but modernized to look like Heidi Klum. I’d guess she’ll tell you the winner of Best Motion Picture. Either that, or, you’ll just get mangled, bitten and ultimately eaten. I mean, what are you doing going down a manhole anyway? Just make something up. Who cares who wins? Save yourself. Who’ll know that you just guessed the winners?”


Invoking my best Gary Cooper, I answered, “I’ll know.”


I thanked Pierre and, to show my appreciation, bought a souvenir beret, kind of nice, magenta-colored, that said, “Pierre’s Imaginary Hot Dog Cart—like us on Facebook.”


Descending into the bowels (yecch) of the sewer, I noticed a sign with an arrow pointing to the direction of the “Service Desk.” I walked over to where a teen-aged girl with pink hair was busily texting on her phone. Clearing my throat, I interrupted with “‘scuse me, ‘scuse me.”


Finally aware of my presence, obviously miffed, barely looking at me, she perfunctorily handed me a map that read, ‘Sewer Guide to the Oscars’ and said “That’s $12.50…$5 extra for a tetanus booster, $3 more for a typhoid shot. Want either?”


I said I’d just like the map, but remarked that the prices for the vaccinations seemed quite reasonable. “Yeah, they’re a lot cheaper since Obamacare. A lot of people just come down here for that…don’t even bother with the Oscars,” she informed and, after I thanked her, robotically responded with “No problem.” I had hoped for at least an “awesome” to send me on my adventure.


The signage at my first stop read “Jack the Bogeyman—Predicting Best Original Song since 1951.” Jack wasn’t in. Mrs. Bogeyman, a chubby lady who was cooking kielbasa on a hot plate, informed Jack had run up to Pierre’s for a hot dog, but assured me that “Writing’s On the Wall” from “Spectre” would win. She politely offered me a piece of kielbasa on a slice of rye. Not bad.


Happily, “Dave’s Best Supporting Actress Divinations & Mower Repair” was right next door. Dave, a thin, chatty sort with slightly bad breath, about 60 but trying to look 40, had dyed dark black hair and wore a shiny silver suit. He said his foreign car repair business didn’t pan out, so he was giving this a go. He confided that of late he was having trouble remembering stuff and wasn’t sure if Rooney Mara from “Carol” or Jennifer Jason Leigh from “The Hateful Eight” would win. But when I seemed perturbed, he swore on his kid’s life it would be Jennifer Jason Leigh. I suggested he write his pick down in the future. He said he’d give it some thought.


Luckily, I was able to catch a taxi to Cassandra’s Forebodings. Cassandra’s track record for picking the winner of Best Supporting Actor was legend according to Mel, my driver. Not short of an opinion, Mel took the opportunity to deliver an informative rant. “It’s not like it once was down here. Did you see a troll yet, or a giant talking rat, or a Druid? Nah! It’s all regular humans now…it’s all big business, all money. I don’t even know the last time someone was scared to death, or even disgusted to the point of nausea. The glory days are gone.” At Cassandra’s, a gilt-edged note card assuring that Christian Bale would win for “The Big Short” was put in a fancy gift bag that said “Cassandra’s: Short Hills, Rodeo Drive, Park Avenue & Goldberger’s Mind.”


Mel waited and, on his suggestion, we headed to Immediate Pick, a drab, government Oscar prognosticating agency with a plaque above the counter that read: “All Funds Received Earmarked for Education & Senior Citizens…we Swear it, Really!” There, to save time and money, albeit with no complimentary kielbasa and perhaps forsaking an opportunity to meet the Heidi Klum lookalike, I collected the following winners:


Actress: Brie Larson for “Room.”

Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant.”

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu for “The Revenant.”

Motion Picture: “The Revenant.”

Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul,” Hungary

Animated Feature: “Inside Out.”

Original Screenplay: “Inside Out.”

Adapted Screenplay: “The Big Short.”

Cinematography: “The Revenant.”

Costume Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Sound Mixing: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Film Editing: “The Revenant.”

Sound Editing: “The Martian.”

Visual Effects: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Original Music Score: Ennio Morricone for “The Hateful Eight.”

Short Film, Animated: “Bear Story.”

Short Film, Live Action: “Shok.”

Documentary, Short Subject: “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.”

Documentary, Feature: “Amy.”

Production Design: “The Revenant.”



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