The Foolproof Guide To Pretending You Saw All The Oscar-Nominated Movies

by Anna Menta
20th Century Fox / Warner Bros.

Sure, you're gonna watch the Oscars. Why would you miss drunk celebrities with microphones on live TV?

That doesn't mean you watched all those damn movies, though. You have a life to live. Who has time to watch eight different films of white people being sad but then finding themselves?

Still, if you're going to watch the Oscars at a friend's house, you know there's going be at least one annoying person there who DID have the time to watch all eight films of sad white people finding themselves that were nominated. And said person will make all kinds of obnoxious comments to prove he or she is the most cultured person in the room.

Confession: I am that pretentious assh*le friend who saw all the movies. But, I want to share my wisdom so you, the normal person who has a life, can keep up with the conversation (or your Twitter feed) this Sunday night.

Be advised this is merely a brief crash course and won't, by any means, make you an expert, so it's still probably best to avoid any in-depth conversations about the films.

The ceremony will air Sunday, February 28 at 8:30 pm EST on ABC. Find the full list of nominations here. But, in the meantime, I summed up all of the Best Picture and Best Acting nominations for you below.

"The Big Short"

Paramount Pictures

The noms: Best Picture, Director (Adam McKay), Editing, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Christian Bale)

The cast: Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei

The basic idea: The big banks caused the 2008 financial crisis, and everyone on Wall Street is definitely a crook (except for Brad Pitt... and Steve Carell is trying).

Your talking points:

  • "I had no idea what any of the characters were saying."
  • "I never really understood the housing crisis before."
  • "I still don't understand the housing crisis."
  • "I loved Selena Gomez in it."
  • "Not a comedy."

"Bridge of Spies"

Walt Disney Studios

The noms: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design

The cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda

The basic idea: Tom Hanks defends a Russian spy in court, and he's basically the Atticus Finch of the Cold War. He successfully negotiates a trade for captured Americans and saves everyone.

Your talking points:

  • "I had no idea it was written by the Coen brothers!"
  • "Tom Hanks was awesome."
  • "I learned a lot about East Berlin and Soviet politics."
  • "... kind of boring, though."


Fox Searchlight Pictures

The noms: Best Picture, Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Adapted Screenplay

The cast: Saoirse Ronan is pronounced "Seer-sha." Know this one thing, and you'll be miles ahead of most of the Academy. Also, Domhnall Gleeson (pronoucned "Doan-all").

The basic idea: An Irish immigrant girl has to choose between her new life in America and her old one in Ireland. Boys are involved. America wins because #patriotism. Sort of like "The Notebook" of immigration.

Your talking points:

  • "New York City was sort of the real love interest in the film."
  • "The pacing and story reminds me of an old movie... in a good way."
  • "How the heck do you pronounce Irish names, though?"
  • *Irish accent impression*

"Mad Max: Fury Road"

Warner Bros

The noms: Best Picture, Director (George Miller), Editing, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hair Styling, Visual Effects + other awards you don't care about

The cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron

The basic idea: One really long and aesthetically-pleasing car chase. Very little plot. Charlize Theron is a badass in the desert. Tom Hardy just goes with it.

Your talking points:

  • "It's refreshing to see women playing awesome roles in an action movie."
  • "There was barely any dialogue."
  • "Have you seen the original?"
  • "No, I haven't seen the original, either."
  • "So, how 'bout that blind guy playing guitar, though?"

"The Martian"

Warner Bros.

The noms: Best Picture, Actor (Matt Damon), Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects + other awards you don't care about

The cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig + a sh*t ton of other random actors you sort of know

The basic idea: Matt Damon gets left alone on Mars, but it's OK because he's a very charming scientist/farmer. Jeff Daniels and NASA politics are shady.

Your talking points:

  • "It was funnier than I expected it to be!"
  • "... but it was NOT a comedy."
  • "Kristen Wiig was there randomly."
  • "Donald Glover was there randomly."
  • "Sean Bean didn't die!"

"The Revenant"

Twentieth Century Fox

The noms: Best Picture, Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy), Editing, Cinematography + other awards you don't care about

The cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

The basic idea: Leonardo DiCaprio gets his ass kicked by the 1800s North American wilderness. He wants to avenge his son, who is native, so this movie's not racist. He gets in a really long fight with a bear.

Your talking points:

  • "The cinematography was beautiful."
  • "Leo will definitely win this time. "
  • "Though, actually, I think Tom Hardy was better than Leo in it."
  • "That bear should get the Oscar."


A24 Films

The noms: Best Picture, Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Actress (Brie Larson), Adapted Screenplay

The cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

The basic idea: Brie Larson was kidnapped at age 16 and raised a 5-year-old son in total captivity. SPOILER: They escape, and he is remarkably well-adjusted for having never been outside before (but it's not all better).

Your talking points:

  • "The kid was SO good."
  • "That movie f*cked me up."
  • "It was sooooo intense."
  • "Brie Larson should win every award."
  • "I didn't breathe for the entire truck scene."


Open Road Films

The noms: Best Picture, Director (Tom McCarthy), Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams), Original Screenplay, Editing

The cast: Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

The basic idea: The Catholic Church is literally crawling with sexually abusive priests, and they DGAF. A team of journalists, the most noble professionals of them all, save the day by informing the public. A true story.

Your talking points:

  • "F*ck the Catholic Church!!!"
  • "F*ck yeah, investigative journalism!!!"
  • "Wait, Mark Ruffalo wasn't the lead actor?"
  • *imitates Boston accent*

"The Danish Girl"

Focus Features

The noms: Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Costume Design, Production Design

The cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard

The basic idea: Based on the true story of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), the first recorded transgender woman to get sexual reassignment surgery. Alicia Vikander plays the most supportive wife ever. SPOILER: Lili dies.

Your talking points:

  • "I think Eddie Redmayne might deserve another Oscar for it."
  • "And Alicia Vikander DEFINITELY deserves an Oscar for it."
  • "I wish they'd cast a trans actor, though."
  • "That ending... Jesus."
  • ":(((((((((((((((("


StudioCanal UK

The noms: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Cinematography, Costume Design

The cast:  Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

The basic idea: Lesbians in 1950s NYC. Cate Blanchett loses custody of her daughter, thanks to gross homophobia, but at least she gets the girl in the end (Rooney Mara).

Your talking points:

  • "I wanted to like it, but it was just so slow."
  • "Not much chemistry but great music and costuming."
  • "Cate Blanchett killed it, though."
  • "Why was her husband named Harge? What kind of a name is Harge? Haaaaarrrge."
  • *Kristen Wiig voice* "LeeeeesssssBIANS!"


20th Century Fox

The noms: Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence)

The cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro

The basic idea: Jennifer Lawrence pulls herself out of poverty by inventing a cool mop and being a savvy business lady. Sort of a "Cinderella" story if Cinderella lived in the '90s and had more autonomy.

Your talking points:

  • "J Law was definitely the best part of that movie."
  • "It wasn't as good as 'Silver Linings Playbook.'"
  • "It wasn't as good as 'American Hustle.'"
  • "It was kind of all over the place."

"Steve Jobs"

Universal Pictures

The noms: Best Actor (Michael Fassbender), Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)

The cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen

The basic idea: The second (and better) biopic about Steve Jobs in five years, this time by Aaron Sorkin. It takes place entirely backstage before Apple launches. Seth Rogen plays Steve Wozniak, and it's great.

Your talking points:

  • "Steve Jobs was an assh*le."
  • "There was sooooo much talking while walking."
  • "Kate Winslet was amazing."
  • "#TeamWozniak"


Bleecker Street

The noms: Best Actor (Bryan Cranston)

The cast:  Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis CK, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, Elle Fanning

The basic idea: The true story of Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), a Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted in the '50s for communism. Trumbo does literally nothing wrong but gets his career ruined. Yay, capitalism!

Your talking points: (NOTE: Almost no one saw this movie, so you have some room to improvise on this one!)

  • "That movie turned me communist."
  • "It deserved so many more nominations!"
  • "Bryan Cranston was amazing... but not as good as Leo or Eddie."
  • "Hey, 'Hail, Caesar!' and 'Bridge of Spies' were about communists, too!"
  • "Big year for communism."

"45 Years"

StudioCanal UK

The noms: Best Actress (Charlotte Rampling)

You, me and everyone else get a pass on not seeing this one since it turns out the star, Charlotte Rampling, is racist. Thanks for that, Char! Did me a solid.