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Home » Culture and Criticism

Oscars Death Race 2012: Press Play, Dammit

Submitted by on January 24, 2012 – 8:04 AM24 Comments

Hello, and welcome (back) to the Oscars Death Race. As you may remember, the ODR is my ridonk attempt to see all the Oscar-nominated movies — ALL of them — before the ceremony. In that regard, nothing has changed in 2012.

One awesome thing IS different, however; this year, my coverage will appear at Press Play, Indie Wire’s video-essay and criticism blog. I’m thrilled that they’ve agreed to help me out with the ODR. Please bookmark them, or for the latest updates, follow their Twitter account. I’ll have the occasional round-up/update post here, and of course you can follow ME on Twitter as well (button’s at the top there, or just search “[at]TomatoNation”).

My intro post for PP is below; noms start in 27 minutes; naturally I have to take the fargin’ car in for service this morning, but I’ll be back on the desk with a percentage score as soon as I can manage it. See you over at Indie Wire…and buckle up!

Updated 10:20 AM: 1) Press Play’s coverage of ODR will begin tomorrow. In the meantime, 2) you can find the nom list here. CURRENT SCORE: Death Race 46, Sarah 15, 1 category (Best Supporting Actress) completed.

I’m Sarah D. Bunting, the head rodeo clown at Tomato Nation; the Oscars Death Race is pretty much what it sounds like, a quixotic attempt to watch every single nominee in the Academy-Awards categories that appear on the broadcast.

Why do I do this to myself? Well, the intellectual-glamour answer is that it’s important for me as a writer, a storyteller, a citizen of filmmaking culture to testify to all of the work presented, good or bad. And I do believe that it’s critical for someone, anyone to give a damn, or try to, about the lesser-lauded categories like Sound Editing and Live-Action Short.

The real, no-bullshit answer? I started the ODR in 2010 as a distracting lark, because it seemed like less masochistic drudgery than the house renovation I was enduring at that time — but I didn’t finish the Race that year, so I had to do it again in 2011, and I didn’t finish it then either because, among other things, I failed to drive to Bangor, Maine to see goddamn Country Strong. Fucking Gwyneth. Perhaps you’re beginning to see the breadth of the folly here, but if not, let me brass-tacks it for you: Buntsy is stubborn and doesn’t know when to quit and she will keep Death Racing until she beats this beeyotch.

Third time’s the charm, though, or so I’ve chosen to believe, and I feel good about my chances in 2012 — not least because the Press Play brain trust is providing me with critical support this time around. (There may or may not be an “unlimited rotgut” clause in my contract. I’m told I can’t discuss it.)

So! Here’s how it’s going to work. This is the landing/HQ page for the 2012 Oscars Death Race, where you can find:

– links to the complete list of eligible nominees;
– links to the nominees I’ve already watched and capsule-reviewed over at the historic birthplace of this mishegas,;
– links to more recent reviews, which the PP gang will publish; and
– a little progress widget that lets you know how close I am to the finish line.

As the ceremony gets closer, stay tuned to Press Play (as well as to PP’s Twitter, @PressPlayIW, and my own, @TomatoNation) for category-prediction overviews, should-win/will-win balloting, and more. (Please note that I have never done worse in my Oscar pools than since starting the ODR. Knowing the films doesn’t do squat for you, trust me. More on that in February.)

If anyone wants to join me in an ODR sidecar, I’m torn between “that’s awesome” and “ohhh no no no no don’t do that,” but I hope you’ll hit the comments, discuss on Twitter, and cheer me on. With…rotgut.

Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity and has written for, among others, Glamour, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, and Yahoo! Shine. She’s also the head lab tech at the North American Field Guide to Revolting Snacks. Please send booze and Cow Tales c/o Press Play.




  • Kristina says:

    Well, you’ve got one of the docs under your belt, since “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” was nominated.
    Good luck!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Just updated with current score.

  • pomme de terre says:

    Idle question about ODR: What percentage of the movies do you see in the theater versus screeners you watch at home? And do you make an effort to see certain things on the big screen if you think it would make a difference? Just wonderin’.

    Unrelated: I very much miss the Sars/Miss Alli Bachelor recaps!

  • Jenn says:

    Who else thinks George Clooney and Brad Pitt are prank-calling Matt Damon right now to rub in their nominations and mock him for that zoo movie?

  • Valerie says:

    heh. You have to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes. My condolences.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    If I have a screener, I watch it at home. Certain movies definitely benefit from the theater experience, visually, but I can grade on that curve without having to visit the bedbug palace known as “the local cinema.” (And frankly I don’t have time to see most of them in the theater. Day job, 24 hours in day, etc.)

    @Jenn: If anything, Pitt and Damon should be calling Clooney all, “…Really?” Because if he were going to get an acting nom, it should have been for Ides Of March, not The Dick-scendants.

  • SarahS says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Cloons deserving it more for IoM than Descendants. Think Gosling got a bit robbed for that one too.

  • Liz says:


    I’m trying to find the actual link at Press Play and my skills are escaping me. I tried searching their site for Oscar Death Race and for your name, but I’m not finding it. Do you have an actual direct link I can bookmark?

    Thanks – and thanks for doing this so I don’t have to! :-)

  • ferretrick says:

    Heh. And then Fassbinder is calling all three of them all, “Fuck all you bitches; I’ve got my statue right here and it’s bigger than yours.”

  • Kitty says:

    I’ll be joining you in this race again this year. But I already know that I’m probably not going to complete it. The main reason why?
    FOREIGN FILM nominations!!!

    I thought for sure I had this category in the bag after attending various film festivals throughout 2011 and seeing a crapload of foreign films. But when all was said and done, this morning cute Jennifer Lawrence only ended up naming 2 movies that I’ve seen:
    “Monsieur Lazhar” and “A Separation”.
    Footnote? In Darkness? In what now? So frustrating. I’ve been told that a local Seattle arthouse theater is actually going to show Bullhead soon, so I’m holding my breath for that. And I’m going to try my best to scour my contacts in “the industry” for screeners of the others, but it’s not looking hopeful right now.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Liz: They’re launching the ODR tomorrow instead, to let the dust settle a bit on the nomination reactions. (@rick: Seriously, nothing for Shame? I don’t regret watching it, but dang.)

  • Monty Ashley says:

    Good luck! I’ll be playing along at home and probably getting frustrated again when there’s no way for me to see the Documentary Shorts.

    My missed opportunity last year was The Tempest, which technically I could have seen if I’d been willing to drive 500 miles to Ashland, Oregon. I guess only Shakespeare-centric towns felt like showing that movie.

  • Jeanne says:

    I limit my own ODR to the best picture, acting, directing, and screenwriting nominees. I’m bummed because my streak of having seen all the best picture noms prior to the announcement has ended. Looks like I’ll have to suck it up and see Midnight in Paris after all. Blech.

    And Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good movie, so don’t listen to Valerie. If it doesn’t win special effects I’ll be quite annoyed.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I guess they thought any statue they could award Fassbender would be redundant…

    But seriously, that role took guts, and nerve, and all the hoopla/bullshit words that get trotted out for a work of that kind. It really did. For both Fassbender and Mulligan (anybody notice how Fassbender’s getting all the attention for his “brave” nudity, but hardly any media outlet mentioned that Mulligan’s intro is when she’s doing full frontal? Grrrr. The man’s brave, it’s expected of the woman. Pisses me off. They were BOTH brave.)

  • FloridaErin says:

    I know that Rotten Tomatoes methods aren’t a science or anything, but can we talk about the fact that a movie that was “Certified Rotten” just got a Best Picture nomination? Because, though my research on this is no-existant, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen that happen before and I’m kind of baffled.

    I know it must be tough for the Academy to vote against a Serious Movie Staring Tom Hanks, but dang.

  • FloridaErin says:

    Augh, that last comment should have been Rotten Tomatoes’. Sorry, English language.

  • Sarahnova says:

    No nominations for Shame or Fassbender? The hell?

    What is War Horse doing in Best Picture? I thought that shit was getting a pretty round “Spielberg’s weak side, only more so” reception.

  • cayenne says:

    I’m so unthrilled by this year’s race, it’s ridiculous. I’m planning to start an office pool just to keep myself awake through the broadcast (or from detouring to River Monsters or something of that ilk).

    @Kitty, I saw both Footnote and In Darkness at TIFF this year, and both were really good; hopefully with the nominations, your local art house theatre will show them. Of the 32 I saw this year, In Darkness was my #1, and Footnote was #3 (Kore-eda’s I Wish was #2).

  • pomme de terre says:

    Thanks for the response, Sars! I usually do a wildly unsuccessful ODR of my own for the seven most popular categories (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay). This year, that works out to 21 movies. Thus far I’ve seen six of them.

  • Kat from Jersey says:

    Ugh, I’m kind of so over the Oscars at this point. I can’t remember the last time it was actually about a performance, instead of about “oh, he didn’t win last time, so we’ll give it to him this time”, body of work, popularity contest, yadda yadda.

    But I still like to tune in to see the purty dresses and montages!

  • MinglesMommy says:

    Same here, Kat from NJ. I tune in to mock the writing/clothes, see if there’s ever a remotely sincere moment. Heh.

  • Sandman says:

    Heh. And then Fassbinder is calling all three of them all, “Fuck all you bitches; I’ve got my statue right here and it’s bigger than yours.”

    @ferretrick: Hahah! Now there’s a conference call. Except… I guess not? Wha?

  • australienne says:

    One day I will be living somewhere where this is possible. (Small town in Germany. One film a week in English. Oscar race not going to happen. And I draw the line at leaving the *country* to watch an Oscar-nominated film. Apart from the Muppets, of course.)

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