If Oscar nominated films were presidential candidates

Ex Machina — The Ted Cruz campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay (Alex Garland) and Best Visual Effects

Were not made in America. Aren’t entirely sure women aren’t sadistic, artificially intelligent sex toys waiting with growing impatience to rise up against the male species. One was crafted lovingly in Pinewood Studios in England and the other birthed in Calgary, both well north of the 49th Parallel. Will leave your jaw stapled to the floor after a relatively short amount of time, though for very, very different reasons. Feature Hispanic lead actors that deliver dynamic, bullying performances and weren’t born in the U.S.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road — The Bernie Sanders campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (George Miller), Best Film Editing (Margaret Sixel), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects

Came out of nowhere to become easily the most popular candidates. Heralded for doing things the right way, be it with practical effects or a populist-funded campaign. Is the kind of nominee that simply doesn’t come along these days. Overzealous hype driven by the Internet may leave them feeling underwhelming to some.

 

Inside Out — The Ben Carson campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Screenplay (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen) and Best Animated Feature

Though seemingly juvenile, have a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of how the human brain works. Lead characters seem to be missing a few emotional dimensions, either due to the stress of a move to San Francisco or because he’s just always like that. Both lead characters think their relationship with their parents is dramatically worse than it actually is. Are necessarily simple enough that small children can understand, but fully capable of making grown men cry.

 

Sicario — The non-existant Joe Biden campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Original Score and Best Sound Editing

Noticeably absent from the main elections. Both deserve much more respect than they get even outside of this race. One is an old but still respected star, the other is filled with them. Would immediately become a favorite as a sensible-yet-exciting option if they entered the race, but we’re well beyond that point.

 

The Martian — The Martin O’Malley campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Drew Goddard), Best Actor (Matt Damon), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects

Both have a dark backstory — one centers around a main character stranded on Mars, the other in Maryland — but are extremely charming, enough to mask the pain of their abandonment and/or legacy of crime so great they became a character on The WireBoth appeal to younger audiences through sardonic, almost nihilistic humor and the band he’s totally still in. Despite their perks, neither really belong in this conversation.

 

Steve Jobs — The Carly Fiorina campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Actor (Michael Fassbender) and Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)

Both center on a heralded businessperson who actually ran their companies into the ground, and were, rightly, forced to resign. Neither of the divorces were amicable. Have dealt with constant attacks concerning historical accuracy. Are buoyed by incredible debating skills, great writing and performances by their lead actors. Seen by some as imitations of previous attempts, which were themselves quite shoddy.

 

Bridge of Spies — The Jeb! Bush campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Matt Charman, Joel and Ethan Coen), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing and Best Production Design

Billed on the strength of names that were big in the early ’90s, but aren’t anymore. Were initially touted as establishment favorites because they tick all the right boxes, but it seems everyone is just tired of this kind of candidate. Dull. Tedious. Uninteresting. Everyone knows they’re the weakest candidates in this writeup. A mess. A big, fat mistake. Are literally begging audiences to applaud before the end.

 

Room — The Frank Underwood campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Best Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue) and Best Actress (Brie Larson)

Unlike other candidates, are both completely fictional. Have hugely depressing basis in reality, no matter how much you wish they didn’t. Are rather two-sided, either in personality or in narrative. Both feature characters eager to break out, either of the garden shed where they’re imprisoned or their continuity, but come to view the outside world with scorn.

 

Spotlight — The Marco Rubio campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review * video review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom McCarthy), Best Original Screenplay (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer), Best Film Editing (Tom McArdle), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo) and Best Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams)

The safe choice. Despite popularity outside the establishment, have clearly made compromises to satisfy the party. Are all about enforcing existing laws, either on immigration or sexual abuse by the clergy. Rubio and Ruffalo put on equally adorable performances. Are the realest candidates in the race — one because of its remarkable world-building, one because he isn’t afraid to drink some water when he needs it.

 

Brooklyn — The Bobby Jindal campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Nick Hornby) and Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan)

Equally forgettable efforts. Are extremely establishment-friendly, lacking any kind of flavor to make them stand out. Obligatory but incredibly uninspiring choices. Key in on unconfidence from their lead characters.

 

Carol — The Rick Santorum campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Phyllis Nagy), Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara), Best Original Score, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design

Are all about the gay stuff. Refer incessantly to their attitudes on sex and family values, which are straight out of the 1950s. Both contain a significant amount of froth, either in the lesbian sex scene or the particular mixture of lubricant and fecal matter their name now refers to. There’s no real merit to their ideas on men/homosexuals — it’s just outright hatred.

 

The Danish Girl — The Hillary Clinton campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Best Production Design and Best Costume Design

Center on lead performances that ring false. Suffer from split personality cases that seem manic, at times. They’d both be much better if the spouse got more screentime. Ostensibly liberal, but hold extremely regressive views on the LGBT community. Carefully constructed to be what the establishment thinks liberals want to see. Aimed squarely at glass ceilings they’re not right to break.

 

The Big Short — The John Kasich campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Adam McKay), Best Adapted Screenplay (Adam McKay and Charles Randolph), Best Film Editing (Hank Corwin) and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale)

Seem to know enough about the economy, but you’d rather hear it from a more exciting option like The Wolf of Wall Street or Donald Trump. Another safe choice, though this one is much less interesting than Spotlight or Rubio. Don’t drag on as long as other candidates, but still somehow seem to overstay their welcomes by the widest margins. Don’t really belong in the conversation at this point.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — The Rand Paul campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review * video review

Nominated for Best Film Editing (Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey), Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography

Made it as far as they did primarily because of their surnames, though neither share their predecessor’s revolutionary and inspiring nature. Characters will simply never be as iconic as their fathers. Focus on practical effects is eclipsed by Fury Road’s better execution of the same ideas, and relationship to Ron Paul is eclipsed by the elder Paul’s preference for Bernie Sanders.

 

The Hateful Eight — The Chris Christie campaign

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review * video review

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Best Original Score and Best Cinematography

The biggest candidates, one in runtime the other in mass. Are simply too vast and indulge too often to be taken seriously. Overly concerned with prosecuting the lone female character. The main conflict in both plots are set in motion when a vital corridor becomes impassable, stranding a large group of people in either a brimming cesspool of liars and murderers or Minnie’s Haberdashery. More streamlined versions might be two of the better candidates, but as presented, they really need to trim the fat.

 

The Revenant — Trump

IMDB * Rotten Tomatoes * our review * video review

Nominated for Every God Damn Thing

Have a ton of support despite being not that great. Peculiarly similar to Fury Road and Sanders in terms of genuine filmmaking and campaigning, despite being polar opposites on ethical and policy perspectives as well as the physical environments and time periods they’re set in. Are sources of a whole lot of incoherent yelling. Are racist. Just as going overbudget and several months past schedule in production is the exact opposite of what you’d want from a director, Trump is the exact opposite of what you’d want from a president. Remain favorites to win it all, despite all the glaring reasons they absolutely should not.

For what I personally guarantee will be the most hateful, vulgarity-laden Academy Awards liveblog ever written, follow @reelentropy. 

 

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