Sure, you could go out and see each and every one of the 10 Oscar nominees for best picture (up from five last year). But seriously, isn't that a tad extreme?
There's a faster, easier, less expensive way to protect yourself against tiresome outbursts ("Oh my God! You haven't seen it?), unsolicited amateur reviews ("It's amazing! You'll love it!") and mind-numbing plot synopses ("So Sandra Bullock wants to help this kid ...").
Ladies and gentlemen, you can fake it. The Faker's pal, Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, knows a thing or two about movies. Which means he's just the guy to offer up an Oscar crib sheet.
"If you seriously want to get into faking your way through cocktail chatter about the fact that there are 10 nominees this year, you should know that it's not the first time they've done more than five," he advises.
"In the first 15 years or so of the Academy Awards, the best picture nominees would range anywhere between five and 12. The last time they gave out more than five was back in 1944, which was the year ‘ Casablanca' won and after that they cut it back to five to kind of conform with the rest of the categories."
Phillips suggests that you sound a little jaded when you rattle off these stats, and that you don't overreach:
"The trick is, once you've hit the end of your knowledge base, you've got to immediately ask where the bathroom is."
— Nara Schoenberg, Tribune Newspapers
Missed the movie? With Phillips' film-specific one-liners, you'll still have something to say.
For "The Blind Side": Refer to Sandra Bullock (right) as "Sandy," as in: "I don't know, this just feels like Sandy's year for an Oscar."
For "District 9": "If I want to see science fiction about race relations, I'll see ‘The Blind Side.'"
For "A Serious Man": I don't know, I guess I prefer my Coen brothers movies with serial killers in them."
For " The Hurt Locker": "I don't go to movies about lockers of pain, thank you very much."
For "An Education": " Carey Mulligan — she's almost too charming!"
For "Avatar": "I'm waiting to see it in 4-D."
For "Precious":"Wow. Mo'Nique!"
For " Inglourious Basterds": "While it lacks the zesty insouciance of the 1978 Italian cheapie of the same name, at least Hitler gets assassinated in this version. Sorry, is that a spoiler?"
For "Up": "I haven't heard so much crying in a theater since … well, actually I saw it on DVD."
For "Up in the Air": I haven't heard so much crying in a theater since ... wait, that was 'Up,' not 'Up in the Air.' 'Up in the Air' (with George Clooney, right) was pretty good, yeah."
The Faker: I've seen that film!
Tribune film critic Michael Phillips feeds you the lines you need to give a performance worthy of an Academy Award
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