The FML Nerd's Guide to the FAL.

Pete Johnson · February 15, 2017 · 4:55 pm PST

Ask and ye shall receive.

Last year, during the inaugural year of Fantasy Movie League, there were frequent calls for some sort of Oscars side game and this year it becomes a reality. How does it work? What tools are at your disposal to help you decide what to pick?

As always, I've got your back.

Game Rules

There's a whole lot of fine print in the official rules, so let me boil them down to the basics for you. Like the main game, you get to choose among 15 films for filling out 8 screens. Each film has a FB$ price associated with it, you get to spend up to FB$1000 overall, and you get penalized $2M for each blank screen.

Unlike the main game, though, the scoring is quite different and based on Oscars category:

  • Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor & Best Actress: $50M each
  • Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay & Best Adapted Screenplay: $25M each
  • Best Animated Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design & Best Costume Design: $15M each
  • Best Score, Best Song, Best Effects, Best Makeup, Best Mixing & Best Sound Editing: $10M each<

Simply put: the big ticket categories are worth more points to your score.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you selected "La La Land" and seven screens of "Rogue One". That would fill all eight of your screens and use $805 of your available $1000 fantasy bux. Let's pretend that "La La Land" wins only three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography and "Rogue One" wins only Best Visual Effects. What would your score be?

For "La La Land", you'd get $50M each for Best Picture and Best Actress and another $15M for Best Cinematography for a subtotal of $115M. You only played it once, though, so there are no additional multipliers.
For "Rogue One" you'd get $10M for Best Visual Effects but it would be multiplied by seven since you played it on that many screens for a subtotal of $70M.
Your grand total would sum those, $110M + $70M + $180M.
As you can probably see, like the main game, it is wise to fill all your screens and use as much of your FB$1000 as possible to improve your chances of maximizing your overall score.

The other thing that is different is the submittal deadline. Unlike the main game, you must submit your entry by 4p on Sunday, February 26. In other words, before the red carpet pre-show starts.

Now that you understand the scoring, how do you begin analyzing how to play this effectively?

Analysis Visualization

While there won't be a Lineup Calculator available for this game, I just couldn't help but come up with a visualization to help people analyze what their choices really are. The full page can be found here, but it looks like this:


I don't recommend trying to eye chart this version, but instead click on the link above to see the full chart. Each of the 15 movies you can choose from has its own column in this table. The first few rows show pricing and number of nominations before there are color-coded sections of rows that show you which categories each film is nominated in and how much that category is worth.

With this as a guide, it becomes obvious why "La La Land" is so highly priced. It has diversity and the ability to get you points in a variety of categories. By contrast, "Zootopia" is only nominated once but is heavily favored in that Animated Feature category. This justifies its higher price compared to "Moana", which has two nominations but may not win anything.

So now you at least have a structure for thinking about how to optimize your choices for what will prove to be a highly entertaining side game. I've had the luxury of looking at it for about a week and have a pretty strong opinion on what an optimal play is, but I'm going to keep my cards close to my vest for a change and see if the community comes to the same conclusion. I didn't use anything beyond this table, though, so I give you the same tool and hope you have as good a time with it as I did.


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