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Sports At The 2013 Academy Awards: Argo, Puck Yourself

Jeremy Bergman |
February 22, 2013 | 3:29 p.m. PST

Associate Sports Editor

Who sang it better? The jury's still out. (Creative Commons)
Who sang it better? The jury's still out. (Creative Commons)

This Sunday is Oscar night, sports fans. And instead of spending your last hours of the weekend mindlessly watching a mid-season inter-conference NBA matchup, why don't you spend them mindlessly watching rich people accept gold statues?

Though only one best picture nominee this year focuses on sports, the multi-dimensionality of film allows for numerous interpretations, and I choose to see every movie as a sports story.

Here's my preview of the 85th Academy Awards as seen through the eyes of a sports fan. 

Best Picture

Argo is… ESPN

Easy to understand and highly marketable, Argo is the preemptive favorite to win the Oscar after Ben Affleck was "snubbed" for Best Director and guilt-ridden voters threw all their support behind the actor-director's Iran hostage flick. Riding high on its celebrity cast and high popularity because of its high concept script, Argo takes no risks, but has been rewarded mightily for it. ESPN, the staple of cable sports television since ever, is in a similar boat; the Worldwide Leader in Sports believes it is such because it says so, and refuses to take programming risks on soccer, hockey and UFC, sports that don't have a mass audience. Regardless of their simple content, they'll both be laughing straight to the bank, and the red carpet. 

Lincoln is… the NHL lockout

Oh, you expected a Civil War epic? Nope, just two hours of 19th century Congressional negotiating and awkward Lincoln jokes. Oh, you expected a 2012-13 NHL season? Nope, just Gary Bettman screwing over loyal hockey fans for three cold months. Although in the end both the country and the league were better for the intense negotiating, the bargaining process was too slow and left too many casualties - but not Bettman. Damn. 

Zero Dark Thirty is… the New England Patriots

Yes, the Patriots are, by their name, patriotic and have been successful ever since their passionate campaign in 2001, as has the United States military. But did they achieve their greatness via legal means? Shady torture scenes. Filming Super Bowl practice. I guess you got to do whatever it takes to win a Super Bowl or, say, kill Osama bin Laden.

Les Miserables is… the 1985 Chicago Bears

Great cast, great story. But the singing? In some circles, it's debatable whether the Super Bowl Shuffle is more on-pitch and better choreographed than Russell Crowe's solos. Good news is that the Bears didn't all die in the end. 

Silver Linings Playbook is… the Philadelphia Eagles

This is self-explanatory, but it is essential to note that there was easily better chemistry on screen between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence than on the field between any Iggle players.

Life of Pi is… the Pamplona Running of the Bulls

I don't know what's more frightening: being stuck on a lifeboat with an unstable tiger for half a year or attempting to escape the path of a bull charging full speed at my ass. Luckily, I don't know much about either of these experiences with enraged animals, and hopefully never will. 

Beasts of the Southern Wild is… Steve Gleason

No joking around here. Both of these stories are inspirational tales of resurgence following the devastation that Hurricane Karina wrought upon New Orleans. Hushpuppy is young, but strong-willed, and leads her community out of the wreckage. In the first post-Katrina game at the Superdome, special teamer Steve Gleason's punt block and TD return propelled the Saints to a dominant win and brought the entire city back to life. 

Django Unchained is… Muhammad Ali

Django and Cassius Clay are the epitomes of cool. Two physical black men fighting for justice and notoriety. While Django seeks vengeance against the white slave-owners for stealing his wife, Muhammed Ali fought against the white establishment that tried to send him to Vietnam against his will. One is hell with a gun; the other has furious fists. Oh, and don't forget their swaggin' rhetoric.

Amour is… baseball.

Unless you're well versed in the craft, it's hard to get through one showing. The older generations can really relate to both the film and the game while Millenials would rather pay 17 bucks to see A Good Day to Die Hard and drop three figures to sit in the mezzanine at a Laker game.

Cooper is up for an Oscar for portraying an Eagles fan who has manners. (Wikimedia Commons)
Cooper is up for an Oscar for portraying an Eagles fan who has manners. (Wikimedia Commons)

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) is... DeSean Jackson

Cooper's mentally unstable character's favorite player is Jackson, whose antics during a Eagles-Cowboys game in 2008 runs throughout the film as a metaphor for not dropping the ball before reaching the goal. So congrats DeSean - your highlight of the year was being a plot device. 

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) is… Branch Rickey

Day-Lewis can disappear in characters. His Lincoln looked, sounded and moved exactly how Abraham Lincoln did, or how we imagine he would have. So what's to say he can't play Branch Rickey, who also created new pathways for blacks to be integrated into the country when he signed Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball. Too late - Harrison Ford is playing Rickey in the upcoming biopic 42. Unless that's DDL playing Ford playing Rickey - he's that good! 

Denzel Washington (Flight) is… Dock Ellis

Washington's character miraculously saves the plane that he's piloting from crashing while drunk and high on cocaine. Ellis, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, threw a no-hitter in 1970 while tripping on LSD, an experience during which he couldn't feel the ball and thought he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix at times. And D.A.R.E. says drugs are bad. Pfft. 

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) is… Danica Patrick

These two leading ladies are kicking ass, taking names, burning rubber, and killing Al Qaeda members, all in what had previously been thought of as a man's game. They do differ in their approaches. Chastain's character won't spend much time baring her assets for GoDaddy.com and, although Patrick is fearless driving at 180 mph in a steel machine, she probably won't feel as comfortable water-boarding a terrorist. 

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) is… Richard Sherman

Young. Arrogant. Talented. Both J-Law and Sherman are very comfortable in their recent success, so much so that Lawrence called out all of her fellow best actress nominees on SNL and Sherman got into a Twitter spat with Darrelle Revis over who was the top corner in the NFL. These young guns have got a ways to go in their careers so they may want to stop making so many enemies, but hey, YOLO, kids. 

Still happier than most Jets fans at Ferguson's play in 2012. (Creative Commons)
Still happier than most Jets fans at Ferguson's play in 2012. (Creative Commons)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is… D'Brickashaw Ferguson

Dare you to spell these first names three times fast.

Best Supporting Actor

Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) is… Gregg Popovich

These light-haired wise men are highly respected in their fields. Though their exploits and successes often go unnoticed and unrecognized, both Pop and Hoffman have quietly dominated the NBA and the film industry for years. Though the two are incredibly consistent, they don't win the big one often; maybe this year will be different for both.  

Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) is… Scott Pioli

Didn't Christoph Waltz play the same character with the same mannerisms and language in Django as he did in Inglourious Basterds? Didn't Scott Pioli build the same team with the same quarterback and linebacker in Kansas City as he did in New England? However, Waltz is critically acclaimed for copying his performance while Pioli is looking for work after getting scalped by the Chiefs. 

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) is… Bo Jackson

While they are, in their prime, the most dynamic and multidimensional professionals in their lines of works, Annie and Bo came and went quickly. Hathaway will win an Oscar Sunday for a tear-jerking performance that lasts less than 20 minutes because she dies quickly and dramatically; playing two sports at an elite level, Bo's body finally failed him only five years into his pro career. Despite their brief spots in the limelight, their legacies will last far longer. 

Helen Hunt, shown here squatting, is sizing up her next client. (Creative Commons)
Helen Hunt, shown here squatting, is sizing up her next client. (Creative Commons)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions) is… a sumo wrestler

Helen Hunt may be in better shape, but she does spend an unusual amount of time nearly naked trying to mount and smother a man in her film. 

Best Director

Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln) is… Derek Jeter

All they do is win. Spielberg and Jeter are the leaders of, the most well-known in, and two of the highest earners in their fields. And if these past two years are any indication (War Horse and Lincoln; 216 hits and a .316 batting average), they have no plans to slow down.

Behn Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is… Damian Lillard

Had you ever heard of these guys before 2012? Yeah, me neither. Still, Zeitlin and Lillard have made amazing debuts on the big stage. Zeitlin's shoestring budget pic is up for four Oscars and the dude's only 30 years old! Lillard was drafted sixth overall by the Blazers last year out of Weber State - Where?! - and is putting up Rookie of the Year-like numbers (18.3 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.2 rpg). The future's bright for these youngins. 


My Oscar Picks (Because I Can)

Best Picture

Will Win: Argo

Should Win: Amour

Dissed and Dismissed: The Master

Best Actor

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

Dissed and Dismissed: Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour)

Best Actress

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

Should Win: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Dissed and Dismissed: Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)

Dissed and Dismissed: Leonard DiCaprio (Django Unchained)

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

Should Win: Hathaway

Dissed and Dismissed: Judi Dench (Skyfall)

Best Director

Will Win: Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln)

Should Win: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)

Dissed and Dismissed: Quentin Tarrantino (Django Unchained)



Reach Associate Sports Editor Jeremy Bergman via e-mail or on Twitter @JABergman



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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