Columnist

Look at him go! (Associated Press/The Weinstein Company, Jack English)

Well, the Oscar nominees are out. And in a year that contained lots of great, diverse movies, the Academy decided to choose … the least diverse crop of nominees since 1996. (Also, a man named Dick Poop was nominated, but his name turned out not to be Dick Poop. This was also a sad moment, though it was sad for different, less important reasons.)

The good news about this year’s selection of nominees is that I was very quickly able to write a script that will get me nominated for an Oscar next year, I have no doubt. The only thing we will need to change is the protagonist’s name.

THE PERFECT OSCAR FILM

INT. DICK POOP’S APARTMENT – MORNING

DICK POOP, a white man in his late thirties or early forties, wakes up. He is a genius.

His apartment is strewn with open copies of the Economist. Dick has read all of them.

DICK
I have read all of these Economists.

Dick does a crossword puzzle rapidly in pen to show that he is a genius. Then he writes an equation on his window. Music from “The Social Network” plays.

There is a picture of Channing Tatum in Dick’s apartment also, but the camera does not call attention to it.

INT. DICK’S OFFICE – LATER THAT DAY

At Dick’s office, it is World War II.

DICK’S BOSS
We are losing World War II. It is against the Nazis, whom we can all agree are bad.

DICK’S COOL (YET SEXY) FEMALE COWORKER LORRAINE
I wish I could help more, but I am not a man like you, Dick. Life must be so easy when you are a genius.

A single tear rolls down Dick’s cheek.

DICK
No. Being a genius like me is hard.

A woman walks into the office, holding a briefcase in a nervous grip.

WOMAN
Hello, Lorraine? My name is Ethel Widdenbaker and I have a question for you.

DICK’S SEXY LADY COWORKER LORRAINE
Is it about a man?

WOMAN
No. It is about science.

DICK’S BOSS pushes this woman out of a window. She falls onto a parked car. This is a movie, so she is probably okay.

DICK’S BOSS
That was close. We almost passed the Bechdel Test.

DICK’S MALE COWORKER
Good lookin’ out there, Bob.

DICK
I hate to interrupt you gentlemen, but while you were talking, I quietly won World War II all by myself using just the power of a man’s genius. The key was crossword puzzles.

Close-up on a crossword puzzle where Dick has written out an equation. It has lots of squiggles in it, so it is probably important.

DICK’S SEXY LADY COWORKER LORRAINE
Yay!

INT. DICK’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Dick stares at himself in the bathroom mirror. He wrinkles his forehead. He puts on his Acting Nose and gazes thoughtfully at his picture of Channing Tatum for a long time.

DICK
(in a whisper)
Don’t worry. I will never act on these feelings.

DICK’S MOTHER’S GHOST suddenly appears in the mirror.

DICK’S MOTHER’S GHOST
You’d better not. When men act on feelings like this in a movie, the Academy award goes to “Crash.”

INT. DICK’S OFFICE – NEXT DAY

Today at Dick’s Office it is no longer World War II. Now it is the Civil Rights movement.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JOHN LEWIS and ANNIE LEE COOPER are there sitting at a table. There is a big blackboard and Martin Luther King is writing on it in chalk. So far he has written “Freedom? But how? When?” and “Does LBJ have any good ideas?”

Dick walks in and everyone in the room stands up.

MARTIN LUTHER KING
Dick! Thank heavens you’ve come! We need to solve Civil Rights.

DICK
Don’t worry, Martin. That’s why I’m here.

DICK walks over to the blackboard, erases what MLK has written, and writes a single equation. Everyone gasps.

ANNIE LEE COOPER
Wow. It must be so easy to be a genius like you.

A single tear rolls down Dick’s cheek.

DICK
No. Being a genius like me is hard.

BRAD PITT enters and smiles.

INT. DICK’S APARTMENT – EVENING

Dick is in the bathroom putting on his Acting Nose again when he hears a knock at the door. It is LORRAINE, his coworker from earlier. She looks dazed. The camera lingers on her pale, lovely face, which is a little weathered (BUT JUST A LITTLE, DON’T GO CRAZY) and looks tired, but is still so, so beautiful.

LORRAINE
I just went hiking and now I don’t remember who I am.

DICK
I will tell you.

LORRAINE
It is possible that I raised a child on my own.

DICK
It’s fine. I’m here now.

Dick glances longingly at his picture of Channing Tatum but does nothing about it.

INT. DICK’S OFFICE – NEXT MORNING

Today Dick’s Office is in a whimsical pink underwater hotel.

Everyone he works with is a lovingly realized miniature badger in a red tracksuit. It takes Dick a little while to get used to it but they all enjoy marzipan in tiny teacups and then go for a sleigh ride.

For one day, Dick has no trouble at all.

A single tear runs down Dick’s cheek.

INT. DICK’S APARTMENT – THAT NIGHT

DICK
Today was good.

LORRAINE
I support you.

DICK
That is all I needed to hear.

INT. DICK’S OFFICE – MORNING

Dick’s office is full of kids from a variety of backgrounds who need to be pushed to succeed at something. Some of them have violins. Some of them have football helmets. One of them reminds Dick of Channing Tatum, but this stays in subtext where it belongs.

Dick takes his jacket off and paces around. He is like a caged animal.

DICK
What you kids need is someone to YELL AT YOU!

KIDS
Yes./That is what we need./You can’t get through to us!

LITTLE GIRL
(breaking a viola over her knee)
It must be easy to be a genius like you.

DICK
NO IT IS NOT! YOU SHUT UP! YOU SHUT UP! IT IS THE HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD!

Two tears roll down Dick’s cheeks.

INT. DICK’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

LORRAINE
How did things go with the kids?

DICK
At first I didn’t know how to reach them. But then I realized it: I am a genius.

LORRAINE
You are.

INT. DICK’S OFFICE – NEXT MORNING

Dick’s office is being packed up and moved away. Everyone there ignores him.

DICK
Hey, what’s everyone doing?

WOMAN MOVING BOXES IN DICK’S OFFICE
You’re a nobody, Dick. You’re washed up. Geniuses like you are a dime a dozen. They’re in every movie these days. Do we really need another movie about a middle-aged man like you who yells at people and writes equations and squinches up his face and solves things? Or even a young man like you? Forget it. We want new stories. Stories we haven’t heard hundreds of times before. We want protagonists who don’t all look like you and have the problems you have. Your time’s over.

DICK
But … I am a genius.

Dick walks out into the street feeling very alarmed.

He draws an equation on a window.

Nobody pays any attention. Dick walks back to the office. He rides the elevator up. He is so alarmed that he is crying multiple tears at a time. He does not notice a woman half his age smiling at him.

Dick bursts through the door of his office.

DICK
Do you mean it? Am I not enough any more?

BUT!
His office is no longer empty. It is full of people. People he has helped by fixing the Nazis and teaching them how to play the violin and drawing equations on windows. Even CHANNING TATUM is there. He smiles at DICK.

CHANNING TATUM
Of course you’re enough, Dick. We were just messing with you. Here is your Oscar. Here are all the Oscars.

DICK hugs him a little too long. But they don’t do anything else.

Blackout.