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The 81st Oscars: By the Numbers

Thanks to God   2
Reference to Obama or “Change”   4
Reference to the recession, “tough economic times”   2
Crying   5
Direct cut between Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt   2
“I didn’t expect to win…”   1
Someone trips   0
The orchestra cuts off a speech   1
A speech manages to cut off the orchestra   0
Thanking fellow nominees   2
Host joke bombs   0
A Streaker or other unplanned event   0
Fashion disaster   4
Skinny ties   11
Thanks to mother specifically   2
Nominees not there   2
Heath Ledger wins? (Yes or No)   Yes
“In memoriam” without sincere applause   6
Winners talking directly to their kids at home   2
Thanking agent   3
Male wearing a chromatic colour (not black/grey/white)   1
The most callbacks to a single joke   2
Woman wearing something other than a dress   3
Facial stubble   1

One of the problems with having a fairly tight Oscar-party group over a long period of time, is that the traditional “Oscar Pool” gets harder and harder to do. As your groups taste, movie-going, and past experience increasingly homogonize everyone’s ballots get more and more similar (especially when one “rolls” with a pretty Oscar-savvy crew).

In the past couple of years the RocketAce pool has usually come down to the short-film and sound-mixing categories, which (generally speaking) does not make for the kind of intense pool experience one looks for.

Thankfully, Matt and Erin came to the rescue this year with a completely overhauled game that made even the most stodgy of technical-awards a thrill-packed nail-biter. Basically this years pool was a mash-up of Oscar Bingo and a series of proposition bets where every entrant estimated the number of times certain things would occur during the broadcast. The closest to the actual total at the end of the night would win (or split) a “point” for that category. The person with the most “points” at the end of the night won a delightful assortment of vaguely best-picture-related dollar store riches (The “Benjamin Button” sewing kit! The phonics colouring book “Reader”! The “Frost/Nixon” blank cassette tape). Jason continued his “moving to Toronto month of destiny”™, by just crushing the rest of the field (he had almost twice as many points my second-place finish) – but you are all the real winners since you can share in our statistical review.

Thankfully we decided up front that a simple majority of votes would decide any contentious points, which was critical as certain categories (“fashion disaster”, “skinny ties”) were quite contentious. Also, if you’re adapting games in future years we heartily approve of the “change the official tally-keeper every commercial break” rules… as it can become a somewhat stressful and heated position at times.

The lack of G_d shout-outs was surprising this year (maybe Hollywood is the atheistic hotbed the right has long-claimed) but not as surprising as the complete dearth of facial stubble and (relative to the Golden Globes) skinny ties. Seriously… was there some kind of “shaving manifesto” memo I missed?

I have no doubt that this format will return for future Oscar functions, so feel free to suggest alterations, improvements, or new categories in the comments thread (for example, we missed the requisite “shout out to Harvey Weinstein” category… which I think was a solid “2” this year).