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How To Fake That You've Seen The 9 Oscar Nominees For Best Picture

A handy CliffsNotes version of the nominess! Spoilers ahead.

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There are nine films nominated in the category of Best Picture for the 2013 Academy Awards. Remember when there used to be five nominations? Those days are gone, and it's not as easy to see each and every film up to bat. But we've got a cheat sheet so you can keep up with the nominees this season.


Main actors:

Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA specialist, and has an epic beard.

Bryan Cranston plays Jack O'Donnell, the CIA supervisor of Tony Mendez who kinda-sorta-sometimes sticks up for Tony.

Then there's lovably ornery film producer, Alan Arkin, and his BFF John Goodman, a Hollywood makeup artist.

As far as those pesky hostages go, there are six of them. And while no one will expect you to remember their names, you should know that out of the bunch there are two married couples.

Plot one-liner:

Based on the true story of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film follows Tony Mendez as he navigates CIA protocol to convince the heads of government to rescue six hostages by pretending he is prepping a bogus movie and having the hostages pose as the film crew.

Talking points:

1) Pretty much any time Goodman and Arkin are in the same room, it's funny.

How to use it in a sentence: "Ummm, you guys, maybe they should have a category for best bromance onscreen, because Arkin and Goodman would totes win it."

2) The end escape scene is riveting and leaves you on the edge of your seat: Will they escape Iran?! Will airport security stop the plane before it's able to take off? Ugh, cinematic tension!

How to use it in a sentence: "I legit couldn't breathe during the airport escape scene, you guys, because I totally saw this movie."

What does "Argo" refer to?:

Ben, Alan, and John Goodman have to find a real script to use in order to get the hostages out of Iran. So, what do they decide on? A little sci-fi film called Argo.

Main actors:

The lead role of "Pi" Patel is played by four actors. Gautam Belur as Pi at age 5, Ayush Tandon as Pi at age 13, Suraj Sharma as Pi at age 16, and Irrfan Khan as adult-sized Pi.

Plot one-liner:

Pi Patel is an Indian immigrant who recounts his story to a Canadian novelist of surviving a shipwreck and landing on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

Key moments to mention in conversation:

1) Patel's father named him "Pi" after some swimming pool...awesome.

2) Be bold and compare the first act of Life of Pi, where Pi's father sells the family zoo, to We Bought a Zoo. Suggest they rename the Oscar nominee We Sold a Zoo! Then laugh maniacally while people shoot you blank stares.

3) See chart below.

3. "Zero Dark Thirty"

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Main actors:

The lovely Jessica Chastain as CIA officer Maya.

Dan the torture man, played by Jason Clarke. Followed by the detainee who sends Maya on her journey to find Osama bin Laden, Anmar, played by Reda Kateb.

Plot one-liner:

In 2003, Maya, a CIA officer, is sent to Pakistan to interrogate suspects in the investigation into the September 11 attacks against America and winds up finding bin Laden's location.

Key talking points:

1) The torture scenes between the CIA and detainees have caused a lot of controversy. That being said, it's certainly worth discussing. (Especially if you play the neutral card.)

How to use in a sentence: "So, torture, discuss!"

2) Just say this name over and over again until someone gives you a high five: James Gandolfini.

3) The raid on bin Laden's compound took up the last half of the film and, even though you know how it all ends, it's completely gripping. (Note: Maya is NOT in this scene. Repeat, do not mention Maya!)

Here's how to use it in a sentence: "How awesome was Chris Pratt as a Navy SEAL?!"

Why is it titled Zero Dark Thirty?:

That title references a military term for time. In this case, 30 minutes after midnight, or when the raid on bin Laden's compound was made.

Main actors:

Bradley Cooper plays the mentally unstable Pat Solitano, and his love interest is Tiffany, aka Jennifer Lawrence.

Pat's parents are played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.

Other heavy hitters include Julia Stiles as Tiffany's sister and Pat's psych ward BFF, Chris Tucker.

Plot one-liner:

After Pat goes through treatment for bipolar disorder and is released back into the care of his parents, he has to pick up the pieces of his life and does it in a rather unusual way: by ballroom dancing with someone as equally damaged as he is.

Key moments to mention:

1) Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have a surprising amount of chemistry and a lot of Dirty Dancing–esque scenes.

How to use it in a sentence: "Ummm, so [insert either actors name] should be on Dancing with the Stars."

2) In real life, Bradley is 38 and Jennifer is 22. So, you might want to bring up daddy issues, whether they be your own or the filmmakers.

Funny lines to quote to your friends, as if by heart:

"You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things." —Tiffany

Main actors:

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln, and fellow hyphenated actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his son, Robert Lincoln.

Then comes wifey and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Sally Field.

Silver fox David Strathairn plays Secretary of State William Seward, while Tommy Lee Jones is set as Thaddeus Stevens.

Plot one-liner:

(See title of the film.) But, more specifically, this focuses on Lincoln being forced to make the decision of whether he should end slavery or end the war...and you know how this one ends!

Key moments to mention:

1) Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sally Field are all nominated for their performances.

How to use it in a sentence: "Daniel Day-Lewis might be a unicorn, or any mythical creature that kicks ass."

2) Apparently, in olden times, people just barged in and walked all over the White House like it was the village barnyard. Fun!

3) Perhaps the most important part of Lincoln is watching fat James Spader run. Run, fat James Spader, run!


Main actors:

Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, and his wife, Anne, played by Emmanuelle Riva.

Plot one-liner:

An old married couple living in Paris face tragedy when one day the wife, a former pianist, has a stroke, and we see her slow decline into death as her husband cares for her — even as she becomes a person he no longer recognizes.

Key moments to mention:

1) The best part of the movie is probably their amazing Parisian walk-up apartment, which is the setting for 99% of the film, and it's really stunning. Just mention the high ceilings, built-in bookcases, or stained glass windows.

2) The story is also incredibly tragic, which can be expressed with a simple and loud sigh. Le sigh.

Main actors:

The bravest 5-year-old we've ever seen, Hushpuppy, is played by the amazing Quvenzhané Wallis.

Her alcoholic father, Wink, is portrayed by Dwight Henry.

Plot one-liner:

A little girl named Hushpuppy navigates life in a magical realist community and lives in an impoverished and isolated, water-filled wilderness with Wink, her eccentric, alcoholic father.

Key moments to mention:

Spoiler alert: Even though Hushpuppy and Wink have a difficult father-daughter relationship, the scene at the very end of the film, when Wink is dying, will turn you into a puddle of tears.

Main actors:

Convict-turned-honest-man Jean Valjean is played by Hugh Jackman, while Javert, the man who hunts him down, is played by Russell Crowe.

Anne Hathaway is Fantine, and her illegitimate daughter, Cosette, is played by Amanda Seyfried.

Other notables — and big names — include Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier, Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier, and Eddie Redmayne as Marius.

Plot one-liner:

Set in post-revolutionary France, Jean Valjean is a prisoner on parole who takes care of a working-class girl's illegitimate daughter while simultaneously being forced to run from the ruthless Inspector Javert.

Key moments to mention:

No one will really be talking about the plot, but they will discuss the vocals of the actors. See the handy chart below so you can weigh in with the best of 'em.

Main actors:

Jamie Foxx is Django (the "D" is silent) Freeman, and his wife Broomhilda is played by Kerry Washington.

Calvin J. Candie, a slave owner, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Christoph Waltz plays bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz.

Plot one-liner:

Much like the title may suggest, this is a film about Django, a slave who will do anything and kill anyone if it means he and his wife will have their freedom.

Key moments to mention:

This is a Quentin Tarantino film, so extreme violence is a given. If saying something along the lines of "This is my favorite Tarantino film" or "What did you think about the funeral shoot-out scene?" doesn't cut it, then resort to bringing up the sordid details of Tarantino's personal life (i.e., "Did you read that email about Tarantino's foot fetish?!").


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