The James Clayton Column:The 2014 Oscars oracle
With the glamour of the Oscars just around the corner, James resorts to occult methods in order to divine the winners...
(Warning: this article contains spoilers for the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony.)
Razzle dazzle, ladies and gentlemen! The 86th Academy Awards are upon us and we are so terribly excited. (Yes we are. You should be excited about the Oscars. Drink the Kool-Aid, as Americans say, smile dazzling smiles and clap enthusiastically every 15 seconds. The Oscars! Oh, it's so terribly exciting!)
The red carpet has been rolled out and the great and good have descended upon Hollywood for the grandest soiree on the showbiz calendar. The climax of awards season and the most prestigious of all prize-giving ceremonies, the Academy Awards are where the world's attentions are at this weekend. It absorbs interest as a fashion showcase, as a celebrity-spotting exercise and as a celebration of cinema in the film industry's spiritual home. The main reason it grips the cultural consciousness, however, is the tantalising question: "Who wins?"
The Oscars are exciting because we don't know who's going to be picking up the golden statuettes on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in La-La Land. Of course, bookmakers draw up odds and film critics make predictions based on the outcomes of other ceremonies, industry insight and their own opinions on the nominees. Ultimately though, none of them will can offer any absolute guarantees and, thus, we await the ceremony in a state of intense, acute uncertainty. Any of the nominees could potentially win an Oscar and oh, it's so exciting!
I normally ride out that unbearable suspense but this year I found that I couldn't actually physically stand the not knowing. Affected by all these excellent, very worthy movies I started to feel that waiting for the actual ceremony was intolerable. Unable to hang on any longer, I resolved to use all powers within my reach to find out the winners in advance.
To do this I turned to extraordinary, unorthodox methods. The future becomes foreseeable if you practise forms of divination and, duly, as I consequence of certain rituals I have discovered what is to come to pass. I know who and what will win Oscars this weekend and, as a Den Of Geek exclusive, it is my pleasure to share them with you now.
To keep things interesting for myself I decided to dabble around with a variety of divinatory methods for the different award categories. So I don't overrun (I can hear the music ushering me to close up so they can cut to a commercial break) and so I can maintain some sense of mystery, I'll only reveal the winners of the six major headline-hogging awards.
I'd still urge you to tune in for the 'in memorium' montage and to see who receives the really important, overlooked accolades like Best Editing, Best Cinematography, the screenwriting awards and Best Foreign Language Film That No One Has Heard Of Or Had Opportunity To Watch.
Without further ado then, here are the ordained fates of the hopeful nominees as unravelled by me, your very own Oscars Oracle...
Best Supporting Actress
Divination method - Dice Rolling. Also known as astragalomancy, this is a straightforward game of chance dictated by the whims of gods. Dice are rolled for each competitor and the individual tallying the highest numerical total comes out as the victor. I used standard six-sided board game dice and invoked the Olympian deities just so I could cry out "By the beard of Zeus!" in reaction to each surprising roll.
Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine - 5 + 5 = 10
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle - 6 + 3 = 9
Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years A Slave - 6 + 3 = 9
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County - 1 + 6 = 7
June Squibb for Nebraska - 5 + 3 = 8
The die is cast and the forecast is a golden moment for Sally Hawkins who more than held her own opposite HurriCate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine.
Best Supporting Actor
Divination method - Cassandra the Psychic Wonderhorse. Remember Paul the Psychic Octopus - the soccer-loving cephalopod gifted with prophetic powers and the ability to forecast the outcome of every World Cup encounter? There's a horse in the countryside near where I live who has similar soothsaying abilities, except she picks out the winner of the annual Best Supporting Actor Award. I have no idea what she's called so I've dubbed her Cassandra the Psychic Wonderhorse because every clairvoyant needs a swish stage persona. Placing potatoes representing all the nominees before her, I waited upon the Wonderhorse's fateful choice.
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips - Cassandra passes on the Abdi potato.
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle - Cassandra ignores the Cooper tuber.
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years A Slave - Cassandra shuns the Fassbender tater.
Jonah Hill for The Wolf Of Wall Street - Cassandra ambles over to the Donnie Azoff-lookalike spud and takes a chomp.
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club - Cassandra can't be bothered with the Leto root veggie though the she digs its androgynous style.
The winner is Jonah Hill, though his corresponding spirit potato is now somewhere deep inside the digestive system of a horse.
Divination method - Tarot. An occult form of cartomancy, Tarot is a multi-faceted method of gaining insight into a querent's subconscious or past, present and future through the study of symbolically decorated cards. You can get some small insight into this fascinating mystical tradition by watching Live And Let Die or Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain (both major snubs at the 1974 Academy Awards). Admitting that I'm an enthusiastic novice with Tarot, I opted to perform simplistic readings with my gilded Golden Tarot of Renaissance deck (gold seemed appropriate for the Oscars) to assess the fortunes of Hollywood's leading ladies...
Amy Adams for American Hustle - The Hierophant which signifies "Inspiration - piety, relief, patience, tradition".
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine - King of Wands which signifies "authority - honest and conscientious entrepreneur".
Sandra Bullock for Gravity - The Stars which signifies "Hope - positive omens, new ideas, peace".
Judi Dench for Philomena - Seven of Chalices which signifies "Revelation - creativity, discovery, supernatural vision".
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County - Nine of Pentacles which signifies "Cheerfulness - joyful reunion with relatives or friends".
According to my reading, the Best Actress award belongs to Sandra Bullock though you may want to check in with a more adept Tarot practitioner to verify my conclusion and get a greater comprehension on the mysteries of the movie world, the real world and your own inner world.
Divination method - Spaghetti Casting. Practitioners of this traditional Italian augury procedure boil some pasta, drain it and then fling the spaghetti strands at a blank wall while in a reverie, shouting out the name of the subject as they do so. The ominous shapes made by the strands are scrutinised and I consulted 'Ernest Borgnine's Spaghetti Casting Made Easy' to get insight into the Best Actor battle.
Christian Bale for American Hustle - A confused bunch of straggling strands - a little like Irving Rosenfeld's combover - hang sadly and suggest disappointment in spite of spirited toil.
Bruce Dern for Nebraska - Nothing sticks for Dern's Woody Grant so I guess it's inauspicious spaghetti hoops from a tin for you tonight, Bruce.
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf Of Wall Street - A thick batch of spaghetti clings tight to the surface. Amidst the mass can be discerned several knots which, the book claims, can be interpreted as symbols of either prosperity or obstacles to self-actualisation.
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years A Slave - Several long spaghetti strands line up in parallel lines which is a rare positive omen for Ejiofor's Solomon Northup.
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club - A single stubborn strand holds desperately to the wall, reminding me a little of Ron Woodruff's own rugged fight for life in the movie. This indicates courage in the face of adversity though the signs do not necessarily portend to success.
Chiwetel Ejiofor gets the glory according the predictive pasta shapes. Culinary types who want a second opinion should perhaps dabble in pestomancy.
Divination method - Fortune cookies. Bitesize and edible pseudo-Oriental philosophy bits actually invented in America, the sapient snacks offer profound aphorisms and tasty tantalising hints at the future to come for those willing to eat up the prophetic biscuits. They're also easier to get your head (and teeth) around than Chinese astrology. I went to Chinatown, picked up a bag and cracked open cookies one by one for each esteemed auteur, the strip of paper in the centre guiding me as I sought to discover this year's Best Director.
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity - "It's like a finger pointing at the moon. Concentrate on the finger and you will miss all that heavenly glory."
Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave - "Friendship is an ocean that cannot see the bottom."
Alexander Payne for Nebraska - "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."
David O Russell for American Hustle - "Every friend joys in your success."
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf Of Wall Street - "You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin temple."
The wise cookies conclude that David O Russell will be hailed as Best Director for his American Hustle.
Divination method - Ellen DeGeneres Poster Oracle. Look at the official poster for the 86th Academy Awards - a nice photograph of host Ellen DeGeneres. Now look back at me. Six hours have just passed. Really. To look at that image is to find yourself mesmerised by DeGeneres' hypnotic visage. Look again. Yes, you're under.
In a trance state induced by the supernaturally powerful promo picture, I started to hear the oracular murmurings of this posterised Pythia (Ellen DeGeneres is apparently just the Earthly avatar of some dimension-crossing divine consciousness). She spoke in soft, dolorous tones from beyond the veils of perceptible reality and I soon understood that she was unravelling the mysteries of the Best Picture contest - the most prestigious accolade of the Academy Awards ceremony.
She discussed the myriad merits and wonders of each of the nominated movies - 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Then there was a subtle whistling sound that echoed throughout the Infinite. Suddenly, heralded by fragrant vapours the blue eyes sang aloud "Not of this Earth, but of your race, glorious fortune lies, in outer space."
The oracle clearly either means that Gravity is Best Picture or I need to get my head around astrology to work this one out.
James Clayton is suffering with Cassandra Syndrome but is pleased that this premature knowledge of the future has confirmed that the speech he's preparing for the 2043 Academy Awards ceremony isn't going to be a waste of paper (or spaghetti). You can visit his website or follow him on Twitter.
You can read James' last column here.
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