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Watch This/Play That – 2016 Oscar Nominees as Board Games Pt. 1

header Board Games

I’ll be 100% honest.  I haven’t seen a single one of the eight nominated Academy Award Best Picture movies for 2016. Not a single one…

However, I will probably try and spend my Sunday night watching the OSCARS while playing a couple of board games (While also live-blogging the OSCARS with a couple of friends, but we’ll get to that later). That got me to thinking… If I’m going to have a game night centered around the Academy Awards, shouldn’t I have games that are themed closely with the some of the nominated movies.  Turns out, there are some great games out there that would pair nicely with some of the best movies of the year.  Consider me your Board Game Sommelier for Hollywood’s biggest evening with the brightest stars.  Today, the selections center around three of the eight Best Picture Nominees: Spotlight, Bridge of Spies & The Big Short.



Spotlight is a critically-acclaimed movie about a team of journalists tasked with investigating allegations against a priest accused of terrible crimes. The editor of the Boston Globe (played by Michael Keaton) has Mark Ruffalo (ahem, Mark Ruffalo’s character) and other journalists interview victims and try to uncover secret information.  The goal of the group of journalists is to reveal that there is a cover-up of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

Penny Press certainly does not have as heavy of a theme as the movie Spotlight. In Penny Press, you play newspaper magnates in the end of the 19th century in the time of “yellow journalism”.  Penny Press won the Tabletop Deathmatch competition in 2014, a tournament of aspiring game designers held by the creators of Cards Against Humanity. Your goal is to have the best paper in New York City.  Players publish newspapers assign their reporters to one of five different categories of stories including War, Crime, New York City, Politics or the Human Condition. At the end of the round, players will score their papers based on which stories they have covered and the importance of those stories in the current game. Your papers might not be as important in the Globe in 2001, but your stories might win you game, so that’s something to be excited about.


Bridge of Spies Spyfall

In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a New York lawyer who is recruited to negotiate the release of a U.S. Pilot shot down in his spy plane.  If everything goes to plan, the pilot, Gary Powers will be released in a prisoner exchange with Russian spy Rudolf Abel, who had been defended previously by Donovan in court.

While Bridge of Spies is one of the top eight movies in the eyes of the Academy, SpyFall is one of the top party games to come out in recent memory.  In SpyFall, players all receive a card with the same location and a different occupation.  It could be a high school, a submarine, or one of dozens of locations.  There’s only one catch, one player instead received a card that just says “SPY”.  This person’s job is to figure out the location of the group, before the group figures out which player is the spy.  This is done by asking questions amongst one another such as “how did you get to work today?” If the recipient of the question answers “I rode my bike” and the location is a submarine, they’re probably the spy. SpyFall has received rave reviews and would be great for a OSCAR watching party.

The Big Short | STOCKPILE

BIG SHORT Stockpile

In The Big Short a Wall Street investor takes notice that home loans are getting ready to default.  The “Too-Handsome-for-Wall Street Players” (Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gossling and Brad Pitt), have their attention grabbed by this possibility and they bet against the housing market.  The crew makes a fortune by betting on America’s upcoming economic downturn.

In Stockpile, players play Wall Street investors buying and selling stocks on the stock market.  There are six different stocks in the stock market in the game.  However, Stockpile is “The Stockmarket Game of Insider Trading”.  So, in each round, every player will all know the same outcome for one stock on the board, while they will each secretly hold a card knowing the outcome of a different stock.  Players will then buy and sell their stocks with their new hidden and public knowledge to try and work their known information better than their opponents.  I have played a number of stock market games over the years, and this is easily one of the best.

Do you know of any better board games that match up well with these three movies?  Send us a tweet @funkhouserksr.  I’ll be back later this week with other pairings for the remaining five best picture nominees.

Article written by Richmond Bramblet