Oscar Noms to Video Game ROMs: 2014

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Seeing as it's Oscar Night, I figured I'd bring back an old favorite from my Screened days. I mean, I've already written a blog about cartoons this week, so why not continue to go fully off-topic for a while longer? At least it's somewhat video game related.

Oscar Noms to Video Game ROMs, possibly my worst title yet for a recurring feature, takes the eclectic group of movies nominated for Best Picture and attempts to conceive licensed video games based on those properties, finding the right genre trappings for their dramatic themes. While I'm generally stymied by two rather important considerations--the fact that Oscar-nominated movies are rarely video game material, nor have I actually seen most of the movies nominated--I never let such small matters get in the way of realizing the video game destinies of these critical darlings.

I should really put the previous Oscar Noms to Video Game ROMs on the internet somewhere for context, right? Maybe on my Tumblr? Oh hey, look at that.

Whiplash

Schillinger/J. Jonah Jameson/Cave Johnson turns in an equally terrifying but mesmerizing role as a seriously scary jazz conductor who humiliates his students to push them to further greatness. Honestly, as if being in a jazz band isn't humiliating enough. Smart money would be on some kind of jazz-focused Rock Band ersatz, but I think a Fruit Ninja-style action game that involved throwing chairs at rich privileged kids would be more agreeable, especially if we heard JK Simmons' sardonic one-liners throughout.

Imitation Game

A documentary about the pioneering computing expert Alan Turing, who helped decipher encrypted codes in WW2 and would later devise a test for determining whether a robot is sentient or not years before Voight and Kamff (or were they one guy?) thought to do so. Dude also struggled with his homosexuality his entire life, and apparently so did our government, because we arrested him for it. Way to go, 1950s mores. I suppose the VG equivalent would be a Fallout 3 style hacking mini-game, archaic computer terminals and all, extended to comprise the entire game with perhaps a well-to-do toff in the background going "jolly good" every time you solved a puzzle. Sounds like an iOS game to me.

American Sniper

Porn for Islamophobes. By which I mean, "a stark and uncompromising look at the career of an obsessed military sniper caught in the recent furors in the Middle-East". Beard-ley Cooper shoots a lot of people in the head while looking increasingly unhappy with his lot. I wish I could think of a game in which you shoot people in a modern military setting and have to deal with incessant negative feedback for your actions, but that would require a considerable leap of imagination.

Birdman

Once a famous superhero, Birdman has instead chosen to pass the bar and become a lawyer, defending various animated characters in court to... oh wait, wrong Birdman. This one's about a washed-up blockbuster movie star who can't seem to escape his costumed alter-ego, despite attempting to steer his career towards smaller, more dramatic theater roles. I'm thinking that, in the video game version, he gives in to his Gollum-esque Birdman almost immediately and goes on a brawling spree, fighting prominent and distinguished theater critics with names like "Slim" or "Roxy" or "Slash" (this knife-wielding maniac and Ibsen fan is also known as the "Julienner of Juillinard") as he makes his way to the Metro City New York Broadway district to perform the play on time.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

That jovial jackanape Wes Anderson constructs what might be his most OCD adaptation yet, of a famous luxury hotel in a fictional European country, its eccentric concierge and the young refugee he's taken under his wing. Like a game of Telephone, the tale is told through several narrators of lesser connection to the events that occurred, which causes the actual story to resemble something almost fairytale-like in nature. While the film doesn't actually spend a whole lot of time in the titular hotel, I'm thinking we have some sort of whimsical Tiny Tower scenario here: the player must keep the wealthy hotel clientele happy (by any means...) while avoiding the gendarmes and Willem Dafoe's scarily effective hitman.

Selma

Apparently nothing to do with Marge Simpson's spinster sister but a biopic about the civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery to allow African-Americans to vote. Obviously, you want to treat a topic as serious as this with some kid gloves, and so a version of Patapon where everyone marches forward to the inspirational words of Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps a little... well, inconsiderate? Maybe it'll be for the best if we pretend this movie really is about Selma Bouvier and suggest a game where you help her pet iguana Jub-Jub cross a busy street to the safety of the lily-pads beyond.

The Theory of Everything

That other Oscar movie about the brilliant English scientist who suffers a setback in the mid-20th century. Though instead of trying to convince everyone that robots are people, he's trying to convince people that he's not a robot. No, wait, that's not cool. It's a biopic of Prof. Stephen Hawking, miraculously still alive in spite of the handful of years he was diagnosed once his ALS got seriously bad. He's an incredible guy, though apparently not always a nice one if this biopic's to be believed. I suppose a game equivalent would be a typing game, only instead of zombies a la Typing of the Dead, it's ideas about black holes? Maybe you can use those black holes to teleport buckets of icy water over people. (I'm clearly not a theoretical physicist.)

Boyhood

A film that took 12 years to make and almost as long to sit through, it's a semi-documentary/semi-drama about a dull kid growing up to be a barely tolerable adolescent. Though, apparently, the guy reads Giant Bomb so maybe I should be a little nicer. Kudos on your role as Linklater's guinea pig, duder! Dang, but it must be a weird thing to watch twelve years of your life flash by in a mere seventeen hours. In order to properly convey a 105,190 hour period in a video game, I'm going to have to hand this video game adaptation over to the folks behind the Disgaea series. Hopefully they can knock a few decades off their games' usual length to fit the time frame we're looking for here.

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