This Was Going To Be A Movie Review

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By Sophie Gold

My brother is a movie nut. On his recent birthday, we went to see the newest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to you.  It has a great twist of an ending on par with The Usual Suspects which I won’t spoil for you.  In prep for writing this review, I had a look at what other critics thought of the film. I was surprised that many panned the movie because I liked it.  However, there emerged a theme among the most critical critics:  the remake (as they called it) was unnecessary and didn’t measure up to previous films based on the same book.  It is true that there have been other film adaptations of the book as is the case with lots of movies being made these days.  There seem to be lots of redo’s and their near cousin the franchise extension these days.  So why does Hollywood tend toward redos and franchise extensions?  Is there a lack of creativity among today’s movie makers and story-tellers or is there something else at play?  Are today’s film studios so risk averse that they are too afraid to step out of their comfort zones?  Or are we as movie-goers the ones who are risk averse and crave the comfort of nostalgia and happy (or at least known) endings?  

Save for low budget indies, it has become prohibitively expensive to make and market new movies; it’s risky business indeed.  Remaking old movies provides film studios with a critical success factor or crutch depending on your perspective: bankability.  If you think of a movie on a theatre screen like a consumer product on the shelf at Shoppers or Loblaws, there’s lots of competition.  And there are too many movies for the available prime “shelf space” or movie screens. The independent and newbie studios and movies just don’t have a level playing field because the resources required to get on screen are huge and getting huger by the day.  So only tried and proven movies made by tried and true makers get made again and again.  If that is the case, going to the movies may soon become similar to tuning into another episode of that TV show you watch every week or binge watch on Netflix over the holidays. Film studios remake old movies and extend franchises because they are less risky to make and market. Remakes and extensions practically market and sell themselves, whereas upstarts have to fight for the scarce real estate that is the theatre screen.  Remakes and extensions are also more readily translated and sold globally and often spin off a heap of merchandising opportunities to boot.   But it’s not just the movie makers who are responsible for this trend.  

 

We the viewers to like our comfort food.  We like what we know and like knowing how we will feel at the end and that we got what we paid for.  There’s a reason why McDonald’s keeps cranking out Big Macs:  people love the special sauce that they are familiar with (truth be told, I’ve never eaten at a McDonald’s but have heard stories about McFood).

Then again, there’s a case to be made for remakes. First off, they’ve been made for generations.  Romeo and Juliet became West Side Story and has been retold to new generations for decades. New technology and well-known actors introduce old stories to new audiences who might never otherwise see them. My brother never would have taken us to see Murder on the Orient Express but for the modern cast including some of his favourite actors. I would never have been introduced to the great story and awesome plot twist and not have written this article.  We like our comfort foods and film studios will continue to oblige us for good reason: we call it comfort food for a reason and there’s no place like home and a bowl of mac and cheese on a cold night.  

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Winter Break, Binge Session: Top Netflix Shows to Watch

Bored During the Winter Break? Here are some suggestions for entertaining TV shows to fill your time:

-Scandal

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Scandal is a show a show about ‘lawyer’ gladiator, who goes around and fixes problems for people while deciding whether to pursue a relationship with the president or a secret agent.

-Grey’s Anatomy

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A medical show that follows a group of doctors transition from interns to physicians.

-How To Get Away With Murder

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A professor of law covers for her law student’s murders. The question is will they get away with their many many murders.

-Gilmore Girls

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A mother and a daughter with the same name drink a lot of coffee.

-The Mindy Project

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A gynaecologist fails to balance her personal and professional life.

-Prison Break

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One man breaks his brother and a group of other inmates out of prison. This follows his journey in prison and after their escape. Proceed with caution because everything you learn in this series will be wrong in the new series.

-Quantico

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Follows FBI recruit Alex Parrish who is blamed for a terrorist attack watch her prove her innocence in this exciting show.

-Black Mirror

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A Sci-Fi show that is creepy and thought-provoking.

-Blacklist

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A wanted man with connections to basically all other criminals turns himself in if he gets to work with one specific agent only. This crime-fighting show follows their interesting relationship.

 

-Downton Abbey

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Follows royals and their transition through the war. The family is made up of a hilarious grandma (seen in the gif), 3 daughters, an American Lady, a British Lord and other surprise add-ons.

-How I Met Your Mother

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An AMAZING SHOW that follows a gang of friends:

TED: the annoying main character.

ROBIN: the Canadian, enough said

LILY: married to Marshal and a great side-kick to Robin

MARSHALL: married to Lily and a great side-kick to Ted

BARNEY: the reason to watch this show (he is the best)

-Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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The 99th Precinct is where we get to see the hilarious Andy Samberg and his funny friends.

-Homeland

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A crazy show about terrorists, spies and love.

-Shark Tank

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A show to brush up on your math skills while watching new products pitches and laughing hysterically at the Sharks’ comments.

-Ru Paul’s Drag Race

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“Chante you Stay” Ru Paul. Enough said.

-Glow

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A funny show about women who wrestle for TV.

-Full House (the original)

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This is a cute show that follows a rambunctious family, with three daughters, 1 dad, and 2 father figures.

-Shameless

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A group of kids, who have an alcoholic dad need to raise themselves and stay out of trouble.

-Mr D.

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A show that shows us how teachers really think.

-Suits

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A lawfirm hires a fake lawyer, who is smarter than all of the other lawyers. Well he has a photographic memory but he also just bends the law a bit.

-Jane the Virgin

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A writer gets accidentally inseminated with her bosses baby…GASP

-Friends from College

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The name says it all, the show is about friends from college who are reunited.

-Atypical

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An endearing show about a family with a son with autism.

-Drop Dead Diva

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A supermodel is killed by a truck of cantaloupes and is reincarnated in the body of a lawyer. That should be enough to get you hooked.

-The Fosters

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It’s about a diverse family that has 2 fostered kids, 2 adopted twins, 1 biological kid and two lesbian moms.

-The Good Wife

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A show about lawyers, who fight for their clients. It’s dramatic and addicting, at least for the first few seasons.

-Nashville

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Takes place in Nashville and it follows a bunch of country singers and their families.

-That 70s Show

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A comedy about a group of friends in the 70s.

-Lie to Me

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A show about a man who can basically tell someone’s thoughts based on the movement of their eyebrows and lips.

-Switched at Birth

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Two girls are born on the same day and then accidentally given to the wrong families. They grow up and then realized they were switched…du du duuu.

-The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

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Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-air

In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighbourhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-air”

-One Day at a Time

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A sitcom about a modern family that deals with immigration and LGBTQ issues.

-American Vandal

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A mockumentary about whether a high school student committed an act of vandalism at his school.

-Life in Pieces

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A story following an extended family with different sections of the show following different parts of the family.

-This is Us

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****CREIS*****

-Me Selfridge

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A true-ish story about a man who opens a department store.

-Angry Bird

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AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING

Image Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/television/best-netflix-series-25-great-netflix-tv-shows-1288230

“Love of Violets” from New York, I Love You: A Film Commentary

 By Marian Pascual

     It is hard to capture the definite meaning of this film, but what intrigues the audience most is probably the delicate mystery that unfolds, ever so slightly.  New York, I Love You is a recreation of the original film, Paris, Je T’aime, where a variety of segments are filmed in different parts of each cinematic city.  The seventh segment of New York, I Love You featured the chicer part of the city – Fifth Avenue- where a woman revisits a hotel and encounters very strange things during her stay there.  I urge you to watch this film because it raises the question of existentialism and because overall it is a very beautiful film.

     In “Love of Violets,” a woman revisits a fairly vacant hotel in Upper Manhattan, where she is assisted by a crippled Russian bellhop.  We learn that she is a retired opera singer, and about her love of violets.  She requests for some to be brought up to her room, and somehow there were already some violets waiting for her in the lobby… coincidence? Not just yet!  The bellhop reveals that his father, who is also the manager of the hotel, was a great admirer of her singing back in the day; he had watched her perform many times in Paris.  Suddenly, the bellhop has a random violent nosebleed inside her hotel room, and then leaves the scene (as if things could not have gotten weirder).

     At the end of the film, the bellhop offers to close the window for her.  As he walks towards the window, he slowly starts to fade into the light. He says his final words before he falls to his death, “How can you bear it? I don’t know how you can bear it.”  It could be that perhaps he relates to how she feels about not being physically able to do the things that make her happy, the same way he is crippled, which restricts him from enjoying life to its maximum capacity.  Or it could be that the melancholy bellhop is part of some kind of schizophrenia she has (because she was seen talking to herself in the first few minutes of the film) and symbolizes who she is on the inside, crippled and physically restricted from doing what brings her the most happiness – to sing.  This theory is backed up by the fact that whenever the bellhop made an appearance in her room, he was reflected in the mirror that the woman was also reflected in.  Therefore, it is to say that she was symbolically looking back at herself in the mirror, and the bellhop represented the struggling part of her inside that we tend to mask to the outside world in order to portray a happier image of ourselves.

     After the bellhop commits suicide, something even more strange occurs.  A second bellhop, who we can assume to be the original one, climbs back from the balcony to tell the woman that there was no one down there and suggests she could have just seen something in the street.  He then offers to close the window for her once again, and she  replies very firmly: “Yes, please close the window.”  This could mean that she accepts the sad truth of never being able to sing again, and that she wants to start new, without having that sad person conscience restricting her from living her life.  Towards the end of the film, she was seen dressed in a white gown, almost like she was getting engaged.  A wedding symbolizes a new beginning, and in this case it was the beginning of an end, and that is what I think Shekhar Kapur intended to do with this beautifully haunting film.

Please Watch ‘Tramps’

I’m pleading with you pretty directly, so you have to do it

By Gabe Nisker

Premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Adam Leon’s second feature Tramps is an unassuming film. And maybe it makes sense that it dropped on Netflix today pretty quietly. But that’s not to say it isn’t special — it is.

Leon’s first film premiered internationally at Cannes after a SXSW premiere in the US. It’s called Gimme The Loot and it’s a pretty good movie about two friends — graffiti artists — who plan to tag the Citi Field Home Run Apple, the statue that pops up when the Mets hit a homer. It’s pretty unassuming, too, actually — now that I think about it again.

And that’s what Leon is so good at. There’s a quiet nature to his movies, even as the premises have everyday people doing not-always-everyday things. The camera moves slickly and smartly — we get pans and dollies but we often get these documentary-like shots of city streets, of lots of people and of everyday things happening (and of the film’s own characters!)

That’s what makes both of Leon’s films so realistic…or at least real-feeling. There’s an innate sense of personality to them — his films have characters you think you know or maybe they feel like you. They feel right.

Tramps is the movie that happens when a guy has to make sure a briefcase gets into the right hands (because his brother can’t do it like originally intended, he’s in prison) and a girl has to make some money so she’s the driver.

That’s how they meet but Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten, the film’s leads, are super charming together and it makes Tramps a joy to watch.

I tried to get to a screening of this at the film festival last year — I heard about it too late and I couldn’t get in. I’m happy I found the end product. I’m happy Netflix gave it a home. Leon’s a good filmmaker and the films he makes are good (I don’t think that’s really the same thing, even if you think it is). So, watch them, please. I’m begging you. Let him make more.

Seriously, Thank God for Jokes

I confess I should’ve been doing homework, okay? But I couldn’t help myself. After watching his two features in the span of a month and a half, I’d settled into a comfortable relationship with the comedy of Mike Birbiglia. It’s really relaxing to listen to. His shows have an intimacy and a personality that is unmatched in the comedy world. His latest special is no different.

Titled Thank God for Jokes, Birbiglia’s newest special goes anywhere and everywhere he feels comfortable. It’s clear he’s worked out his material thoughtfully and carefully as he always does. You just want to listen to him tell his stories – he’s so good at it. What’s great is that he’s crafted all his comedy to the degree that they’re not always such traditional “jokes”. They’re all stories – funny ones – and you can’t help but laugh as he tells them in his Birbiglian way. Of course, though, he’s got such a smart sense of awareness about it all — his observations and witty comments come like Vin Diesel — Fast and Furious.But don’t worry, the jokes are better than that one I just made – the laughs are aplenty in this one, so it’s worth it. This special is framed around his hosting of the 2012 Gotham Awards but he goes on tangents — suspended licenses and nut allergies are just a few of his many targets. Of course, targets are a hot button topic. What can we make jokes about? What can’t we? Birbiglia’s awareness comes up once again here and it’s an interesting reminder to us all about the importance of comedy.It’s also clear Birbiglia knows how to keep focus — he always wraps it back together with a callback joke and he always comes back to the Gotham Awards. Stories are foundational for comedy and segues are always important. The way he uses the Gotham Awards as a diving board is, frankly, brilliant.As I mentioned earlier, observations are some of the pillars for good comedy — much of comedy comes from such simple observations. And as Birbiglia brings up the Charlie Hebdo incident, he is at his wisest. He could’ve just told jokes. Thank God he didn’t.

The Complete and Utter Guide to the Academy Awards, In Its Entirety

By Gabe Nisker

Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel hosts this year’s Academy Awards and we’re in for a treat. Whether you’ve seen the movies or not, this guide is for you. We’ll look here at how to win an Oscar pool, what to look out for and general fun Oscar trivia.

Chapter 1: What the hell is La La Land?

At risk of sounding pretentious, how dare you. Read that again — this time, I’m (kind of) kidding. Honestly, La La Land is magical, a movie worth experiencing for yourself. It’s the story of a guy and girl who have come to Los Angeles to make their dreams come true. It’s also a musical. If you’ve got time for only one Oscar movie – it’s this one. It tied the record for most nominations with 14, tying Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve and James Cameron’s Titanic. Now that’s a fun fact you can drop on your friends when watching the Oscars! More fun facts to come.

Chapter 2: I’ve seen, like, one of these. I need to catch up on my movie-watching.

There’s a few ways to go about this. Please, don’t torrent – artists deserve to be paid for their work, even if it is relatively expensive to go see tons of movies. Instead, use more reliable sources. Pick one or two movies to see in theatres (I’m suggesting La La Land and Moonlight as true cinematic experiences) and stream whatever else you can at home through Netflix, or iTunes/Google Play, among other streaming services.

Here’s some of what’s available on Netflix:

The Jungle Book – nominated for Best Visual Effects

The Lobster – nominated for Best Original Screenplay

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – nominated for Best Sound Mixing (my advice: skip this)

Zootopia – frontrunner for Best Animated Feature (this is a must-see!)

And on top of all that, the nearly 8 hour (5 part) documentary OJ: Made in America is available on CraveTV. It’s supposed to be incredible. I’ve been trying to clear a weekend for ages.

Chapter 3: I haven’t heard of half of these Best Picture nominees. Why did I miss them? Can you tell me about them?

Odds are, if you go to the movies in the months of May-August, you’ve seen your fair share of comic book movies. The Oscars’ large pool of voters tend to go with more difficult films — arthouse films, they’re called. Arthouse films are far more niche than your average summer blockbuster. Among the Oscar nominees, there are also some biopics designed for Oscar attention, heartwarming stories for the whole family. Because of something called the recency bias, most of these “Oscar” movies are released in the late fall and winter season.

Anyways, they’re all really good (in their own way, that is. Some aren’t my cup of tea). Let me run through them for you.

FrontrunnerLa La Land

A musical about making it in Hollywood, as I said above. In this writer’s opinion, it’s easily going to take home the trophy, having won at almost all the guild awards (the award shows specific to a certain sector of Hollywood, like the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild or Producers Guild).

Critic’s ChoiceMoonlight

Moonlight swept up local critics’ awards and with good reason. It’s a powerful story of an African-American kid coming to terms with who he is. Brilliantly shot, phenomenally acted – it’s going to win at least one other award (Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor, probably) but I don’t think it has as big of a shot in Best Picture at this point as it did at the start of the campaign.

The Next 3:

Manchester By The Sea: If you like part depressing, part hilarious slice of life movies with a lot of dialogue, you’ll love this. Really, though, I enjoyed it but it’s far likelier to take home Best Original Screenplay for the phenomenal work done here by writer/director Kenneth Lonergan.

Hidden Figures: The one guild award La La Land didn’t win is one they didn’t even get nominated for. Anyways, it happens to be a big predictor of Best Picture success. Hidden Figures, the based-on-a-true-story film about Katherine Johnson’s involvement in the Space Race, picked up the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble. Actresses Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae were all great. Spencer picked up an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress as well.

Arrival: There seems to be a yearly spot in the Best Picture race for science fiction. We’ve had Gravity and The Martian in recent years. This year’s no different but this film is. A truly fascinating take on an alien invasion, Arrival takes its time but it’s so worth it. Want to sound smart? When this movie gets mentioned, mention to your buddies that Amy Adams should’ve been nominated. She was phenomenal.

The Longshots:

Lion: This true story is almost too crazy to be true. It’s the story of Saroo Brierley, who got separated from his family when he was little, ended up far away and tried to locate them years later with only a handful of memories. Dev Patel, nominated for his work as grownup Saroo, is pretty good — but the real snub here is Sunny Pawar as 5 year old Saroo.

Hell or High Water: This should be more of a contender than it is. An all-American movie directed by an Scotsman, it’s a bank robbery movie and a critique of banks all in one. Jeff Bridges is one of many great performances here but he’s the one who got nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Hacksaw Ridge: The only one I haven’t seen is a war movie based on the story of Desmond Doss, who saved lives without touching a weapon. Andrew Garfield plays Doss and is nominated for Best Actor. Director Mel Gibson is also nominated.

Fences: Whether Denzel Washington wins an Oscar for this or not (he’s pretty good), I’m a firm believer this should’ve stayed a play. Not much more I can say except congratulations to Viola Davis. In what is really a lead performance, she will definitely win Best Supporting Actress.

Chapter 4: I’m in it for the celebrities. Who got nominated? Who’ll be on the red carpet? Is there anything I should look out for at the show itself?

Among the big stars walking the red carpet, you’ve got Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a dynamite pair from La La Land. There’s Casey Affleck, one of the Best Actor frontrunners for his work in Manchester By The Sea. There’s also Denzel Washington. From what I’ve noticed, big names are lacking in the award categories (Matt Damon is nominated as a producer for Manchester by the Sea, if we want to go there). Then, there’s the presenters. For starters, we’ve got Captain America and Black Widow — Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson. There is also this one guy named Leonardo DiCaprio — he’ll be presenting the Best Actress award, since he won last year’s Best Actor for his role as Hugh Glass in The Revenant.

Chapter 5: Who should I put my money on in my Oscar pool?

For what it’s worth, I’m going to try and predict some of the categories on the record here. Here are some of my picks.

Best Picture: La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea (Indications are this is a coin-toss between Affleck and Denzel Washington. Fittingly, I flipped a coin).

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay: La La Land (I’m still torn on whether to choose this or Manchester by the Sea)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Chapter 6: Hey Gabe, before you go, can you give me some Oscar fun facts to impress people?

This is also not-so-secretly the chapter in which I show off useless trivia I picked up from months of tracking the Oscar campaign. I’ve already given you good tidbits up above. Most of these come from Variety or The Hollywood Reporter (like this article right here) Let’s go for it.

  • Meryl Streep has been nominated for a ridiculous amount of Oscars. The most ever: 20, actually, now that she was nominated this year for Florence Foster Jenkins. She’s only won 3.
  • The average runtime of an Oscar Best Picture nominee this year is just around 2 hours and 5 minutes.
  • Best Original Score nominee Thomas Newman has been nominated 14 times. How many times has he won? Zero.
  • Damien Chazelle would become the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history, if he were to win. He’s 32 years old. However, he’s not the youngest nominee of all-time — that would be 24 year old John Singleton, who directed the 1991 film Boyz N The Hood.

Chapter 7: How To Enjoy Watching The Actual Awards Show

Aside from trying to guess the categories, I try and make the show fun in a couple of other ways. These are called prop bets. You see them with sporting events like the Super Bowl — these bets extend beyond the game, to anything ranging from the coin toss to the length of the national anthem. For the Oscars, they pertain to the winners’ speeches, presenters’ pronunciations of names (thanks John Travolta!), swearing, selfies and so much more. Thanks to a site called sportsbettingexperts.com, I’ve copied a few of them over here for your enjoyment. For anything here, bonus points if you can call your shot and name who exactly it will be.

Academy Award Prop Bets

Will the Best Actress winner cry during her acceptance speech?

Will the Best Actor winner cry during his acceptance speech?

Will any category produce a ‘tie’ for the Academy Award?

Which winner will make the longest acceptance speech?
Best Actor Winner
Best Actress Winner

Will any of the acting award winners continue their acceptance speech ‘after the music begins’ to cue them off?

Will a presenter mispronounce the name of a nominee or winner?

How many people will watch the 2017 Academy Awards TV broadcast?
Over 34.5 million
Under 34.5 million

Will any winner drop their Oscar trophy on stage?

Will someone speaking on stage refer to Meryl Streep as ‘the greatest actor/actress of our time’?

Will someone ‘take a selfie’ on camera during the Academy Awards broadcast?

Will any Academy Award winner swear during their speech (accidentally or not)? 

Chapter 8: Enjoy

Now that you’ve gone through a surprisingly long chapter-by-chapter guide to the Oscars, you’re ready for Oscar night. Schedule a 3–4 hour block on February 26th and have fun!

Chapter 9: Why are you still here?

This article’s over. Go home.