Oscar Noms to Video Game ROMs 2015

Hey Academy Award aficionados! Welcome to the new edition of Oscar Noms to Video Game ROMs: an annual series I first started on Screened.com, back when it was still a website you could visit instead of a redirect link to Moviefone, wherein I hypothesize what the licensed video game adaptations of all the year's "Best Picture" Oscar nominees might look like. Given that the nominations are usually a selection of austere and serious dramas and biopics every year, spinning them into video game gold is never an easy process. I don't quit though! Except for all those years when I did!

(The 2014 Edition. Also, here's 2010 and 2011 as well (link goes to Tumblr).)

  • The Big Short: I probably shouldn't have started with a comedy-drama about profiting off a giant housing market crash and resulting economic catastrophe. I feel like this could be the meta-game of a The Sims sequel: keep creating lavish McMansions for little guys who are unable to pay anything in return because they spent all their starting money on purchasing ridiculous furniture and building deathtraps for visiting neighbors they don't like, and wait for the figurative Grim Reaper of the housing market to show up. It's either that or resurrect Wall Street Kid, and I'm sure no-one's into that idea.
  • Bridge Of Spies: The master of direction and maybe misdirection? Steven Spielberg once again surprises the movie-going world by bucking a trend set by thrilling spy movies such as SPECTRE and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation by instead presenting a tale of espionage where absolutely nothing exciting happens. Yet if we've been taught anything by the advent of "walking simulators" - games that tell a story sparingly through very little interaction with the world - there's an audience out there willing to take it nice and easy instead of getting involved with noisy and exhausting "action" games. Play as Tom Hanks's reluctant insurance lawyer as he walks from one room to the next to have important meetings with other serious people that will decide the fates of someone or other I guess.
  • Brooklyn: I've yet to see this, but by all accounts it's a charming tale of an Irish immigrant in New York who flip-flops between the stable life she once knew in her homeland of Eire and an exciting and risky one in the US of A, sort of like a historical female version of Danny O'Dwyer. There's another recent release that also focuses on choosing between two lives to lead and different romantic options to pursue, and has oodles of sensuous face-petting (or, well, used to) for fans of the lovey-dovey stuff: Fire Emblem Fates. Maybe instead of working in a 1950s department store the heroine can pick up a spear, climb on her pegasus mount and earn her US citizenship through combating the forces of darkness instead? It's not like she'd be the first video game star to get their start performing menial labor in the district of Brooklyn only to become the heroic defender of a Japanese fantasy kingdom.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Didn't this already get a game? Oh, it wasn't based on the movie, just the same character and setting? I suppose I should make an effort then. Naturally my first instinct is a far more brutal version of Super Mario Kart, but I wonder if we shouldn't try to come up with something as creative as George Miller's visually-striking technical marvel itself. How about a variant of Shadow of the Colossus, where instead of Agro the horse you have one of those customized desert ATV buggies, and you have to crawl along the larger dreadnoughts in order to find the weak point (the driver or the fuel tank, left to player discretion) and destroy it before leaping off and back onto the buggy? And then maybe fight fifteen more of those, each more crazy and gigantic than the last? I'm not sure if Kow Otani's sweeping orchestral score will sound any more or less epic coming from the flame guitar of the Doof Warrior, but there's really only one way to find out.
  • The Martian: Oh, this one's easy. You have an entire movie about a smart-aleck astronaut (to be fair, that's a mostly redundant statement) trying to fix problems in order to survive long enough to come back to his home planet. I've seen enough of Giant Bomb East's Kerbal Space Program "Project B.E.A.S.T." series to know that we've got the Kerbal kernel of a similar idea going here. Instead of giving the player the freedom to build spaceships to leave the planet's atmosphere and travel to various places in the game's solar system, it creates a series of problem scenarios similar to the ones faced by Matt Damon's brilliant botanist and challenges the player can jerry-rig equally successful solutions. Sure, a lot of painstakingly-trained astronauts will die, but there's probably more where they came from.
  • The Revenant: You know how in Dark Souls or Bloodborne when your character has just been killed and comes back without any of his souls/blood echoes, and the next part of the game is to head back to where you last died and try to recover them before they vanish? It's very dramatic, because dying again will cause those valuable materials to disappear into the ether forever. What I'm suggesting is: What if you were left for dead by a rival hunter/trapper, and instead of seeking revenge you tried to head back to get all those priceless pelts you left behind? The bear would obviously be this game's "Smough and Ornstein": that one boss fight that causes half the player base to give up because the game's way too hard.
  • Room: I don't know how much I can say about Room without spoiling it. It's essentially about two people - a mother and son - trapped in a room. But what if they were metaphorically challenged by their cuboid claustrophobic living space instead? The resentment regarding their predicament could manifest with various lucid dreams that involve boxes in some way, presented as a series of mini-games. Maybe they're a snorkel-nosed monster cursing the very cubes they jump on, or maybe a bearded man who chooses to live inside a box because the outside world is frightening and makes very little sense, filled as it is with insane people like a war hero who can shoot bees at you through interpretive dancing or an obese explosives expert who gets around via inline skates. By working out this aggression in their REM sleep, the duo can survive the miserable waking hours inside the titular room until their salvation finally arrives.
  • Spotlight: A movie based on the revelatory journalistic investigations into a very touchy sorry, a very troubling matter regarding priests of the Catholic church and their "interactions" with their younger congregants. Obviously, there's only so much we can joke about such a delicate matter without being too tactless and insensitive, so instead of... Oh hey, I know who'd be perfect for a job like this! Professor Layton! He'd help the journalists solve their way through every obstacle the Catholic church would erect sorry, construct to stop them from discovering the truth, and could use his incredible abductive reasoning skills to put all the pieces together and blow the case wide open. Our heroes celebrate their victory! Well, until those same journalists decide to prod into the relationship between Layton and his young ward Luke Triton. Oooh, awkward.

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