So The Oscars are an imperfect system, but while an imperfect system can't offer real insight into art and entertainment, it can still offer a look into itself. The fact of the matter is that the Oscar votes are pretty easy to game, if you bear the facts in mind, and the fact is simple: When making your Oscar picks, just ask yourself: What Would Ernest Borgnine Do?
The W.W.E.B.D.? theory is built around a blunt statement of reality: The Academy Awards are, by and large, determined by the voting preferences of people who are not only older, richer and more male than the population at large; they also are awarded by people who may very well have spent their whole lives in show business. Use a few basic ballistic principles, correct for a slightly rarefied atmosphere, and you can predict which films the Academy's thoughts will rest upon. ...
(Predictions and the Virtual Borgnine® after the jump. ...) To do well at the Oscars, a film must do one of two things: It will either 1) Involve a social issue of some concern to an extremely wealthy liberal or 2) Evoke misty, nostalgic memories for the dream of Hollywood, a Hollywood made more out of collective amnesia than individual fact. Now and then both will be in play – Clint Eastwood, who made all those great movies, really tears you up when he's got to kill his protégé, even though she's full of post-feminist pluck – and now and then it will be one or the other. The days when The Sting could win Best Picture? Those simple, carefree days are gone for Oscar; now, it's sort of like taking your medicine -- or, rather, taking the spoonful of sugar, like Forrest Gump. Viewed through Borgnine lenses, for example, Brokeback Mountain is 'radical' -- but comfortably so, as it's a movie about gay love with a) almost no sensuality or joy to it and b) an ending where the protagonists have to pay for their forbidden love. (Frankly, I think a movie like Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss -- with a pre-overexposure Sean Hayes finding something like happiness -- is more radical than all of Brokeback Mountain's handwringing, but I digress. ...)
With that said, let's predict! The quotes in italics are only Virtual Borgnine® simulations of what Mr. Borgnine might say; in addition, just as a broken clock is right twice a day, The Borgnine thought process can, occasionally, still choose the right film. …
Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
"A helluffan actor! A great kid! Playing the guy who wrote 'Breakfast at Tiffany's!'
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon
"Great gal, finally gives a great performance in a movie without too many curse words!"
Best Director: Paul Haggis, Crash
"That kid made a hell of a movie about, you know, racism. And coincidences. And some pretty showy acting, too!"
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti
"What? He was in Sideways? Did I see that? Well, he's a heckufa fight manager!"
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
"That one scene! With the fishing lures! And the dialogue! And ... the dialogue!"
Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain
"It's an important movie that has an important message. It's the movie everyone's talking about! And, you know … it really rips the lid off of homophobia in the 1970's."