Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees And Their Video Games Counterparts


Posted February 25, 2011 - By Guest Writer

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By: Danielle Riendeau

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees And Their Video Games Counterparts

It’s the most glamorous evening in entertainment – all of Hollywood is out on parade in overpriced party clothes, ready to schmooze and strut and cry over acceptance speeches. We gamers need no special excuse to get in on the fun of the evening – picking winners and arguing endlessly on the merits of one overblown entertainment experience over another. 

Welcome to our very own version of the Academy Awards, where we’ve paired a recent game with the same dramatic aspirations, themes, or capital D drama as each of the ten best picture nominees. We’ve also picked an Oscar-worthy scene from each, proving once and for all that games belong on the red carpet as much as the next sighing starlet.

Play them, love them or hate them, and by all means, debate them – these are your best bets for Oscar night gaming.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

Black Swan / Deadly Premonition

It would have been too easy – and far too obvious - to pick a dance-related game for this honor (even the excellent Dance Central is too garish for a film about an emotionally scarred ballerina.). Much more appropriate is Deadly Premonition, with it’s split-personality protagonist, dark and twisty storyline, and art house vibe. Both will be cult favorites if they aren’t already, and both are incredibly polarizing experiences.

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: It’s difficult to just pick one sequence in a game that’s as packed with memorable surreal nonsense as Deadly Premonition, but the nod must go to the first scene with our protagonist, Francis York Morgan. Driving a muscle car on a rainy night while simultaneously waxing philosophical about Tom and Jerry, looking at brutal crime scene photos on his laptop, and conversing with his alter ego Zach, York makes an impression so strong that even Ms. Portman would have a hard time keeping up.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

The King’s Speech / Halo: Reach

Classic, time-honored tropes polished to a squeaky shine. Work that absolutely everyone expected to be excellent, and they were right. If you bought a ticket to The King’s Speech and you know anything about history, or if you picked up a copy of Reach on day one and you had played Halo before, you knew exactly what you were getting into, and the experience delivered, on all fronts. Never mind that the worlds themselves are dissimilar; it’s the quality of craftsmanship on display that makes these two a perfect Oscar gaming match.

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The striking, truly heroic ending served as a fitting coda to developer Bungie’s final chapter in the series – and a perfect bridge to the story of the original Halo. 

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

The Fighter / Super Meat Boy

Tough as nails, hardcore, and as no-nonsense as a platformer about an animated piece of meat could possibly be, Super Meat Boy complements the classic, gritty, character-driven The Fighter perfectly. Playing through the game will leave you feeling as battered and bruised as Christian Bale’s messed-up pugilist from the film. 

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: Any of the epic montages of failure (which captured all of your many untimely deaths simultaneously) will do. The one triumphant meatboy who emerges victorious from the field always inspires a glorious swell from the Hollywood-style horn section of our minds.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

Inception / Limbo

Dark, puzzling and stylish, this indie adventure was the only game that could compete with the cerebral excitement of Christopher Nolan’s intricate thriller. While it doesn’t have Ellen Page or Leonardo DiCaprio running around bizarre dreamscapes, or the kind of budget that allows you to twist Paris over on itself, Limbo was as unforgettable and unique as it’s filmic brethren. 

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The surreal “the end is the beginning is the end” finale shared more than just a dreamy tone with Inception’s final scene. Mysterious, poignant, and purposefully ambiguous, it’s inspired almost as many theories and explanations as its cinematic counterpart.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

The Kids Are All Right / Mass Effect 2 (Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC)

The out-of-the-blue Oscar pick of LBGT people everywhere, The Kids Are All Right depicted a lesbian couple of the neighbor’s next-door variety, and their domestic issues. What better a match than a Liara-romancing femshep in the later moments of the Shadow Broker DLC, where all of the couple’s issues are aired out in true The L Word fashion? You’d better not have romanced Jacob in the game proper, or there was hell to pay. 

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: Nobody does relationship drama better than Bioware, and nowhere was this better presented than the last sequence of Lair of the Shadow Broker. There’s heartache, uncertainty, talk of marriage, and even – yes, the possibility of a tasteful love scene. Whether you play as a male or female Shepard, this is the stuff Oscar clip shows are made of. 

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

Toy Story 3 / Super Mario Galaxy 2

With a cast of familiar characters, a godlike team of creative professionals behind the project, and an incredibly polished experience, Mario’s latest had more in common with the ultimate Toy Story flick than just a bright color palette. If only Mario could boast an affecting and beautifully crafted narrative about growing up...

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The full video from a perfect run on the devilishly difficult “Cosmic Clone Wall Jumpers” star would have every audience member gasping for breath and gaping in amazement at every pixel-perfect acrobatic feat. No matter who was voting, Mario would win for “best performance”.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

The Social Network / LittleBigPlanet 2

At first glance, a film about the dubious beginnings of Facebook and a cheery game about unleashing creativity don’t seem to have much in common. But look a level deeper: both are really all about, yes, social networks and forging new technologies to create communities. Similarly, both projects have propelled their key talent (Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network and developer Media Molecule) from up-and-coming status to full on stardom.

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The epic defeat of the “negitivatron” fills in as the most cinematic moment in the single player campaign, but one only needs to take a quick look at community-produced videos such as this epic “300” recreation to get a full taste of this social network’s dramatic potential. 

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

127 Hours / Dead Space 2

One man’s hallucinogenic, bloody; intense journey towards greater self-awareness, Dead Space 2 is like a grislier, gamier version of 127 Hours’ survival narrative. Dismemberment figures heavily in both, though it’s far more disturbing in the movie. A compassionate viewer wishes he could give 127 Hours’ trapped hiker a plasma cutter.

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: Franco’s death at the very beginning of the game sets the stage for all of the freaky surprises (and effectively shatters any false sense of security you may have) in store. It may not be as outright shocking as the infamous Alien “birth” sequence, but it’s uncomfortably close.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

True Grit / Red Dead Redemption

You were in luck this year if you were looking for a western with unforgettable characters, incredible visuals, and a genuine sense of place and time. True Grit was the best big-budget western to grace the screen in years – arguably decades, while Red Dead offered the first truly epic cowboy-centric tale since games began. And no, Custer’s Revenge on the 2600 doesn’t count. 

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The events that play out during Agent Ross’ surprise attack on protagonist John Marston’s ranch are among the most powerful and surprising in any game of the last year. Marston’s last stand is the best display of “true grit” in any game from the past year.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees As Video Games

Winter’s Bone / Heavy Rain

Both have deep, dark drama set in the all-too “real” world. Both feature characters put through hell and back for a family member. And both feature crime-thriller tropes that had us at the very edge of our seats.

Dramatic clip-worthy moment: The tense, terrifying, downright painful “accident” scene towards the beginning of Heavy Rain was more emotionally affecting than even the most tear-jerking movies could ever hope for, and set the tone for the rest of the drama to come.

Oscar Night: The Best Picture Nominees And Their Video Games Counterparts


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