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Sports At The 2012 Academy Awards: More Than Just "Moneyball"

Jeremy Bergman |
February 24, 2012 | 4:18 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Neither Bill Belichick nor Jean Dujardin's silent film character are very talkative. (Creative Commons)
Neither Bill Belichick nor Jean Dujardin's silent film character are very talkative. (Creative Commons)
Three Sundays removed from the biggest sporting event in America – the Super Bowl – the film industry will get its chance to hold its most premier and prestigious event – the Academy Awards.

Nicknamed "The Oscars," it is the biggest award show dedicated to filmmaking in the country. They have been held every year since 1929 and have become America's favorite exhibition of A-list celebrities in expensive dresses and tuxedos receiving accolades.

To the Average Joe sports fan, a night of Vera Wang gowns and awarding excellence in sound mixing may not sound like the most tantalizing experience – especially with the NBA All-Star Game being played simultaneously. But the race of the Academy Awards is as fierce a competition as any NFL free agent bidding war or an NHL overtime playoff game.

So to understand the films, actors, actresses, and directors nominated for Oscars, I’m going to relate them to sports teams and figures. Maybe then the average sports fan will realize that three hours of excruciating non-competitive basketball on TNT is not even close to being as captivating as the nail-biting tension at the Academy Awards on ABC.

Best Picture:

The Artist is... the New England Patriots

Like the actors and characters in this French-made black-and-white film, the Patriots are incredibly tight-lipped. I don't know who spoke more all season: Bill Belcihick or Jean Dujardin? Both unconventional works of art, The Artist and the Pats were both favorites to win it all going into award season and the playoffs. But there was an underdog lurking...

The Help is... the New York Giants

This film adaptation of a best-selling book is the dark horse going into Oscar night, after picking up some late-season momentum with a win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The Giants had the same type of run at the end of their season and ended up upsetting the Pats in the Super Bowl. Will The Help have the same type of luck?

Tiger could probably relate to "The Descendants." (Wikimedia Commons)
Tiger could probably relate to "The Descendants." (Wikimedia Commons)
The Descendants is... Tiger Woods

Three words: Trouble In Paradise. Like Tiger Woods' last three years, all appeared right with the film's leading family: a lovely family with George Clooney as the father living peacefully in Hawaii. But after the mother goes into a coma after a freak motorboat accident, he discovers she has been sleeping round with another man. Sound familiar, Eldrick?

Hugo is... the Oregon Ducks football team

The only 3-D film in the running for Best Picture, it is fitting that Hugo should be compared to college football's most multi-dimensional offense. The Ducks averaged 522.8 yards per game, splitting those yards 60-40 between rushing and passing. Surely I'm not the only one that would love to see Sir Ben Kingsley run the spread with Marty Scorcese.

War Horse is... Jeremy Lin

Typical underdog story here. While I don't think any British military generals will be riding the Knicks' rising point guard into a war zone anytime soon, both came out of nowhere to be heroes in their respective fields. (Note: Joey the horse was in an actual field.)

Moneyball is... the Oakland A’s

Self-explanatory, but it's important to point out one similarity between the '01 Athletics in the film and the current Oakland ball club. Neither will make the World Series at the end of the season.

Both curling and "The Tree of Life" have had esoteric appeal. (Bjarte Hetland/Wikimedia Commons)
Both curling and "The Tree of Life" have had esoteric appeal. (Bjarte Hetland/Wikimedia Commons)
The Tree of Life is... the sport of curling

Who really understood what was going on in that film? Sean Penn is in the middle of the desert? Brad Pitt is the meaning of life? And who really – outside of our lovely neighbors from Canada – gets the rules of curling? Isn't it just shuffleboard for penguins?

Midnight in Paris is... the Denver Tebows

With the emergence of Tim Tebow this season, John Fox switched up the Broncos' offensive game plan, focusing more on running the ball... a lot. It was an old school approach in a progressive league that featured four 5,000 yard passers. Owen Wilson's character in this Woody Allen picture is very old school as well, preferring to travel back in time to the age of Hemingway and Fitzgerald rather than stay in modern-day Paris. The one difference between the two? Woody Allen can throw a spiral.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is... the Cincinnati Bengals

Seriously?! Why is this film even in the race for Best Picture?! Why were the Bengals in the NFL Playoffs?! We may never know.

Best Actor:

 only one has a ring. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
only one has a ring. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
George Clooney (The Descendants) and Brad Pitt (Moneyball) are... Dwyane Wade and LeBron James

These two pros are best friends and have done a lot of work together on some successful projects (Ocean's trilogy, Team USA). However, even though they are equally talented, only one of them has actually won the highest prize in the game. BronBron and Brad may always be overshadowed by their close mates – DWade and George – until they win the big one.

Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is... Ken Griffey Jr.

Both of these guys are considered as greats in their respective industries, but have never made it to the big stage. Oldman, despite great performances in JFK, Dracula, Harry Potter and The Dark Knight, had never been nominated for an Oscar – until now. Griffey, in his long and injury-plagued 21-year career, never made it to the World Series, despite his 630 career home runs and 1,836 runs batted in.

Best Actress:

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) is... Yogi Berra

Streep has received more Oscars noms (17!) than any other actress in the field, just as the legendary Yankees catcher has appeared in more World Series (14!) than any other baseball player in history. While Yogi has also won the most World Series (10), Streep has only won two Oscars and she's being forecasted to lose this one to The Help's Viola Davis as well. But don't worry, Meryl – it's not over 'til it's over.

Notice any similarities? (Walter Huang/Wikimedia Commons)
Notice any similarities? (Walter Huang/Wikimedia Commons)
Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is... Dennis Rodman

Pictures speak a thousand words.

Best Supporting Actor:

Christopher Plummer (Beginners) is... Jerome Bettis

Both of these legends have had long and phenomenal careers, but had never won the Big One until their twilight years. Bettis and his Steelers won Super Bowl XL in his last game as a pro and Plummer is almost guaranteed to win for his performance as a old man finally coming out. I guess going out on top is the only way to go.

Best Supporting Actress:

Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is... Brian Wilson

Surrounded by their conservative, serious peers, these two stars have gained stardom by being enigmatic and unpredictable personalities. Brian Wilson grew a beard within a beard (Inception-style) and wore a skin-tight spandex tuxedo to the ESPYs. McCarthy, a popular TV actress, broke onto the big stage with her ridiculous performance in Bridesmaids, in which she defecated in a sink and released more toxic gases than an oversized Hummer. 

Best Director:

Martin Scorcese (Hugo) is... Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle is widely considered the greatest switch-hitter in the history of baseball, tallying 536 career home runs and a .298 career batting average. On the other hand, Scorcese is not known for his multi-dimensionality, typically sticking to directing great dark gangster movies (Goodfellas, The Departed). But with Hugo, Scorcese crafted a beautiful children-oriented film sans bloodshed (also his first 3-D film). He is expected to win the Oscar for Best Director; doing so would make him one of the great switch-directors of all time.

Bonus Comparison:

Ryan Seacrest  (Host of E!'s "Live from the Red Carpet") is... Skip Bayless

Stop. Just shut up already.


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Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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