Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oscar Season - better stretch out

It started as a chat about movies... and lists.   The next thing we knew, we had invented a game that had only 3 props: a World Almanac and 2 very frightening brains soaked in 100 years of movie facts. 

Stephanie asked if I could name all the Best Picture winners.  I said I probably could, but wouldn't be able to lay them out in order.  The 1930's might be a blur, but I would just keep saying It Happened One Night until I was right.  That's when she got the almanac.

It only went up to the mid 90s, and we were going to finish, but we started watching Billie instead (more about that tomorrow). 

The rules were fairly simple, and established without discussion.  We moved year by year.  Stephanie would provide certain clues (such as what other major awards it won, or if it won no other major awards).  She also had a loopy Will Shortz-style hint system that might go like this: "The star of this film was also in a film with another actor who was once married to this actor's wife."  I am making that one up, but if you can name the actors and the Oscar winning movie, that would be brilliant.

Sometimes, Stephanie would acknowledge "We have discussed this movie this weekend," because we had been together for days and had talked movies nearly non-stop.  Directors might be named.  But plenty of times, she declared she could not give certain information because it would give it away.  I admire that sort of integrity.

I was permitted certain Yes/No questions ("In Color?"  "Musical?") to prune the options.    Once when she hinted that several actors from the film had been nominated, I asked  "Warner Bros?" and she said, "You can do it by studio?"  For a certain time period... yes, I can, especially Warners and MGM, so as an eliminator, it could help.  After that, she would sometimes feed me the studio.  That only works to about the mid-50s, then it starts to fall apart.

To keep this game from being charades (though a few times "1 word title" or "5 word title" came in handy,  in this case, Platoon and How Green Was my Valley) you have to know a lot of movies, and a lot about movies.  You have to know a lot of industry gossip.  And you have to know your Oscar ceremonies.  Then it is more like Taboo meets Celebrities.

Along the way, we would have to stop and discuss a specific winner once it was revealed; marvel at the revelations (Tony Richardson??!  really...); compare and contrast; eat more clementines.  It took us several hours.  The clues are the heart of the game; the answers are just the reward. We got into a rhythm that amazed even us.  When you are trying to reconnect a friendship after a 10 or 15 year separation, you don't need a lot of fancy props and evening shoes.  Just find the thing you love and celebrate it.

Next visit... we do actors and actresses.


  1. Sounds like fun! But tremendously difficult.

    You should make a Sporcle for it.
    (and in case you want to try your hand at 1970 - onward (without fun hints, of course))

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