“The Art of the Oscar Picks”

The Devil is in The Details


By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


On a recent gloomy night, I pondered weak and weary, not because I was necessarily weak or weary, but because I like the expression and it was time to make my Oscar picks…an annual tradition I abhor with no small amount of dread and disdain. All the same, I was determined that this year’s choices would be the likes of which the world has never before seen. Believe me. They’d be so correct that people would be bored by them. I’m like a smart person. I went to the best schools. I make great deals. All I had to do was get a little help from the outside. It’s all the rage, y’know?


Thus it was quite fortuitous that, after channeling the modus operandi of New Hampshire farmer Jebez Stone, who you’ll remember agreed to sell his soul to one Mr. Scratch in return for seven years of good crops, a bird fluttered into my den of iniquitous literature. Perching just atop my computer screen, the raven, in a distinctly Russian accent, offered his services. He explained that it would be in code, that the Oscar winners were each coupled to the various moral and political afflictions with which his superiors had been besmirching the land.


I asked what my cost would be for such collusion. “Only your integrity,” quoth the raven. “It’s all part of a much bigger program. But don’t use the word collusion. There’s no collusion.”


“You mean, like the Russians meddling in America’s electoral process?” I asked, sounding ridiculously naïve to myself.”


“Yeah, but the Russians are just pawns in this, Mike,” the bird assured, a stark seriousness in his one cloudy eye affirming that the conspiracy he alluded to was the biggest plot ever hatched in the history of humankind. He further explained, “It’s these two really big powers who have been fighting it out since time immemorial, each trying to win over what you’d call the electorate. This recent episode started as a wager, the guy with the tail betting the one with the long white beard that he’d resign if he couldn’t disparage the greatest democracy the world has ever known. The Fiendish One has sent his agent.”


“Yipes! You mean…?” I was stunned.


“So, I assume we have a deal,” further quoth the raven, who then handed, or should I say, winged, me a disk, noting that contained therein were identified the scourges perpetrated upon the United States by the ill-willed emissary of his employer. Hidden within each was encoded the winner of an Oscar. Surprisingly, I felt no great pang of guilt. I rationalized that by listing all the wrongs committed against America by the wicked agent and his toadies, I’d be doing a public service. Besides, if suspected of hacking, I’d blame Hillary. No Collusion. No Collusion.


After the black bird departed my premises, informing that he would contact me “nevermore,” I popped in the disk and began deciphering the codes coordinated with the Oscar winner in each of the seven major categories.


Hidden just a few bytes beneath the offense of Spewing Vulgarity Unbecoming the Highest Office of the Land was the winner of Best Song: “This is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman.” Encrypted within the violation, Disrespecting the First Amendment by Disparaging the Institution of a Free Press, was found the winner of Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” It was stirring. I was getting the hang of it. Who knows, maybe next I might figure out how to put Netflix on my TV.


Moving on excitedly, the next deceit I tackled was, Failing to Defend and Uphold the Constitution of the United States, which divulged that the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress would be bestowed on Allison Janney for “I, Tonya.” Just two or three cyber spaces away, enfolded within the corruption associated with Failing to Disclose all Financial Ties in Keeping with the Law and Spirit of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, I found that the Best Actor Oscar would go to Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread.”


Further ensconced within the codes, citing the delinquency, Failing to Defend the Civil Rights of all U.S. Citizens Against all Enemies Foreign and Domestic, Including more than Tacit Ambivalence toward Hate Groups and Individuals Committing Domestic Violence, it was disclosed that the winner of the Best Actress category would be Sally Hawkins for “The Shape of Water.”


Sowing Discord and Further Dividing the Citizenry by Blatantly Choosing Party and Personal Interests over the Wellbeing of the Country was the classification of objectionable behavior that cached the winner of Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, for “The Shape of Water.” And, in cyber sleuthing my way to finding out that “The Shape of Water” would also win the Best Film Oscar, I was brought to the seventh despicable and perhaps deadly sin, Lies, Lies, More Lies…and Maybe Even some Videotape.


Unfortunately, space considerations preclude listing the egregious transgressions cryptogrammatically assigned to the remaining 17 Academy Award categories. But take your pick. Whether it’s support of alleged sexual molesters, daily unveilings of sexual misconduct or championing a sham of a tax reform plan inviting our wealthiest citizens to raid Fort Knox, there were more than enough un-American and just plain disgusting offenses to cypher-correspond with several years of Oscar picks. So, I’ll just list the remaining winners below. They’re all great, terrific picks like no other…the best you’ve ever seen. Believe me. And if I’m wrong, I’ll deny it and say they were actually President Obama’s picks.


Best Original Screenplay: “Get Out”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Mudbound”

Best Achievement in Cinematography: “Dunkirk”

Best Achievement in Costume Design: “Phantom Thread”

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Best Achievement in Film Editing: “I, Tonya”

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: “Baby Driver”

Best Achievement in Visual Effects: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling: “Darkest Hour”

Best Original Score: “Phantom Thread”

Best Animated Short Film: “Dear Basketball”

Best Live Action Short Film: “The Silent Child”

Best Documentary Short Subject: “Edith + Eddie”

Best Documentary Feature: “Last Men in Aleppo”

Best Foreign Film: “Loveless”

Best Animated Feature Film: “Coco”

Best Achievement in Production Design: “The Shape of Water”