Okay, even if the Oscars aren't interesting (and they won't be), there's still plenty of fun that can be had. A good Oscar drinking game obviously leads to plenty of drinking and light-hearted teasing, but a better one sends you down a dark voyage of self-discovery, where you come out the other side a changed person, with a scar you can't remember getting and a series of tattoos whose meaning are a mystery that will haunt you for the rest of your days. You will probably also have to do some community service.
This is the magic of the movies.
There are four different tracks below, each covering a different aspect certain to be covered by the Oscar ceremony. Choose your path carefully. Once you begin down one, it will be difficult to return. What was once a clear and marked path is now shrouded and fogged. You may never find your way home.*
*It is wise to play this game in the safety of your own home, for just this reason. You'll probably simply pass out on your couch at some point. Worst case scenario, you'll awaken floating in your neighbor's pool on top of what once was your refrigerator door, a situation that's covered under most homeowner's insurance plans.
Let us begin. First, choose your path:
Path One: The Magic of the Movies
This particular game is evergreen, and can be played during any Oscar ceremony, and some bat mitzvahs. This is the easiest of the games to keep track of.
Classic martinis or cocktails. It's best to keep yourself well stocked on liquors of all kinds and every variety of mixer, as the tone of the evening may switch around as the ceremony progresses. You may want to consider getting a professional bartender to handle the drinks, as the evening may steer towards difficult-to-prepare refreshments, such as moonshine-based Tom Collins', or lines of cocaine cut with bleach.
The best bartenders are the ones who have been there throughout these periods, which is why most forward-thinking hosts hire a bartender who is dead. Ghost bartenders have been all the rage for several decades now, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. I understand Clooney has most of the bartenders from the Cotton Club on retainer.
Start with a full drink, several shot glasses, and a variety of liquors. Be prepared to pour shots from any bottle at any time.
Any time someone uses a word other than “movie” to describe a movie, take a shot. This includes “film,” “picture,” “story,” and “nickelodeon.” (I'll admit that last one is unlikely, but you can't take any chances)
Any time someone uses a descriptor that harkens back to old-school technology unlikely to have been used in the movie mentioned, splash alcohol directly into your eyes and see if the picture begins to resemble said technology. This includes, but is not limited to, “Technicolor,” “cinescope,” “celluloid,” “filmed in glorious color,” “reel,” and “nickelodeon.” (If “nickelodeon” is mentioned, watch the remainder of the ceremony through a pair of binoculars held backwards).
If someone uses the word “magic,” take a shot of absinthe.
If someone uses the word “magic,” but it is in reference to actual magic, such as a scene from a Harry Potter movie, or a spell they are casting on Samuel L. Jackson from the stage, do not take a drink of any kind. If you have accidentally already taken the shot, your life is now considered forfeit, and may be claimed by The Pale King at any moment. Clutch an emerald to your chest and create a protective circle around you using candle wax. Never leave the circle again.
During all dance sequences, post a long message on the Facebook wall of the person you had the most awkward junior high dance experience with. Repeat this process throughout the night during each successive dance number. If this person blocks you midway through this process, continue the process via phone or priority mail, or better yet, in person. (If you have already been captured by The Pale King at this point, ask him to make a stop off of the person's house on your way to the Withered Gates. The King will be glad to oblige).
At the mention of any classic film, paint a large (at least 6'x6') Impressionist piece of the most scandalous rumor you know connected to the film, whether true or not – for The Wizard of Oz, paint a Ukranian dwarf having hung himself from tree, for Splendor in the Grass or Rebel Without A Cause, paint Natalie Wood being drowned by Christopher Walken (and if any of the films mentioned have Richard Gere in them, well...). If you lack a piece of canvas large enough to complete this task, use your garage door.
Every time Ryan Gosling smiles shyly, finish your drink.
Path Two: Trump
The political option! As Academy insiders promise that this will be one of the most politically-charged Oscars in history, it's only appropriate to have a drinking game that follows the occasion.
Start with Budweiser, but only the sort served in those tallboy cans that just say “America” on them. Work your way to harder beverages, like various American whiskeys and bourbons, or ideally, strychnine.
Every time someone mentions Donald Trump, drink.
Every time someone references Donald Trump without speaking his name, like he's goddamn Voldemort, retreat to the bathroom and turn off all the lights. Speak Donald Trump's name three times while holding a single candle in your left hand. If at any point Donald Trump appears behind you, tell him that he's in violation of Title IX and demand to see either his birth certificate or his genitalia. Whichever he produces, light on fire with the candle. Then retreat back to your couch in peace. You have won your Oscar night drinking game.
If Trump fails to appear, take an opportunity to floss. There's never a bad time for dental hygiene.
Celebrities have used their platform to protest all sort of issues during the Oscars. The most famous example is Marlon Brando sending up a Native American activist named Sacheen Littlefeather dressed fully in Apache regalia to accept his award. Similar instances may arise tonight, and so be ready to handle any of them as they come.
a. If any celebrity mentions the travel ban, hurl a dart at a map and book travel to that location. If no map is available, hurl darts at the other members of your Oscar party and demand that they come up with a suitable destination.
b. If any celebrity mentions Muslims, begin a protest in your living room against the treatment of Muslims by this administration. Continue your protest until someone on the broadcast refers to another person or nominated movie as “brave.” It is wise to have your posters pre-made before the ceremony, you will likely not have time to make a new one before this occurs.
c. If someone mentions “religious freedom,” change your religion immediately.
d. If someone makes mention of the Constitution, “what this country was founded on,” or any U.S. History further back than 1950, draw up your own Constitution and refuse to follow any laws not mentioned in it from this point forward.
e. If someone mentions the North Dakota pipeline, dress yourself or another member of your party up as Marlon Brando dressed in Apache regalia. A shortcut would be to dress the actual Marlon Brando up in Apache regalia, but this is trickier since Brando has been dead since 2004 and tending bar for Jack Nicholson since 2007.
If Trump tweets anything about the ceremony, delete your Twitter account, travel to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, buy an old boat to fix up, and live your life a free man.
Path Three: Racial Tensions
This one can be a tougher path, since it will likely cross over into the Trump path from time to time, and it may be hard to determine which category certain activities fall into. This leads us to our first rule: If you are in doubt whether the celebrity is specifically covering racial issues or speaking about the Trump administration, drink.
Drink only things for which other people can accuse you of racial appropriation, like Hennessy, or sake. If you do not feel guilty whenever you drink, you are doing it incorrectly. Retreat from whatever room has the television and read Wikipedia entries that makes you feel bad about your culture's history until you feel bad enough to return.
Whenever any non-white celebrity on stage begins to talk about race, drink. For every cutaway to a white person nodding seriously, drink again. If said white person is crying, finish your drink and all alcohol within arm's reach.
If a celebrity refers to a movie as telling “our stories,” call your mother and relay to her the most embarrassing story you have about yourself. If she doesn't pick up, leave a message. If you don't have a mother, finish your drink.
Every non-white celebrity who appears on screen, male or female, announce to the room, “they should be the next James Bond.” This will get tiring after a while, but you're almost certain to get a break during the sound categories.
You must make sure to maintain a razor's edge of cultural sensitivity throughout the night. Growl “just what do you mean by that?” anytime anyone makes a comment about literally anything.
If anyone suggests you are taking things too far, announce “I don't think we're taking things far enough!” Then force them to donate a week's salary to the charity of your choice.
If things go south, call and report the party to ICE. Then finish your drink and leave.
Path Four: Death
Irish whiskey or beer.
Begin drinking at the start of the ceremony. If you black out before the ceremony reaches the “In Memoriam” section, you win.
So, as you can see, no matter what path your choose, there's a lot of fun to be had. Make sure to stay safe out there, and tip your bartenders generously. They will require at least enough to return across the River Styx at the end of the night (the standard fee is still two silver coins, but Charon is now technically an Uber driver and therefore does accept PayPal).
I'll be tweeting throughout the night from Movies With Ben. Enjoy the show.