For glory and a cash prize: Teachers bet on Hollywood

Ballot competition participants try to predict award show winners

“I think it’s a great way to get people out and watching films, especially as the film industry bounces back from a few tough years due to COVID. I think this is also a powerful tool to bring people together.”

— US English Teacher Talayah Hudson

Every year, millions of Americans tune into awards shows such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars, but how many of them watch the media that is nominated? Attempting to encourage teachers and students at the school to engage with new media, Upper School (US) English Teacher Talayah Hudson created a ballot competition for faculty to predict the winners of
these award shows.

Ms. Hudson was inspired by the prevalence of bracket-style competitions, as well as her personal affi nity for fi lm, she said.
“It’s something folks always do, like March Madness brackets. I’ve also always done Oscar predictions in small groups with my friends, and I thought it would be cool to bring it to the

She created the competition this year, first running it for the Golden Globes in January. After the success of the Golden Globes ballots, it was an easy choice to continue the competition with the Oscars, Ms. Hudson said. “The Golden Globes got a pretty good turnout,” she said.

Ms. Hudson encouraged participation by trying to make the competition accessible, allowing submissions through both email and physical ballots. The ultimate winner of the competition—whose ballot was the most accurate—would win both glory and a monetary prize, she said.

“There is a pot, so teachers submit $3 in order to play, and whoever gets the most answers correct gets the entire pot,” Ms. Hudson said. “It’s kind of like you pay to play.”

Ms. Hudson believes that this competition is especially important in the years following the pandemic as a uniting force, she said. “I think it’s a great way to get people out and watching films, especially as the film industry bounces back from a few tough years due to COVID,” Ms. Hudson said. “I think this is also a powerful tool to bring people together.”

US English Teacher Sam Crihfield, one of the many teachers who participated in the competition, joined the challenge because of Ms. Hudson’s encouragement and his own competitive spirit, he said.

“I decided to participate because Ms. Hudson is my office-mate, and she is often talking about films, and it has gotten me more interested in films,” he said. “I also enjoy a little competition.”

Mr. Chapman said he liked the idea of engaging with his fellow colleagues in a way that
was separate from work.

“It was a fun, low-key way to be able to do something that doesn’t have to do with teaching, and it’s something we can all come together and participate in,” he said.

For Mr. Chapman, the best part of the competition was being able to momentarily forget the stress of the weeks before spring break, he said.

“I think we are in what is collectively known as ‘Farch,’ which is when I think everyone feels a lot of stress, both faculty and students, so this is such a nice, light hearted way to get away from that feeling.”

Ultimately, neither Ms. Hudson, Mr. Crihfield, or Mr. Chapman won any glory—or the cash prize. Education Fellow Eben Cook came in first place, winning $51. He guessed 18 out of 24 categories, or 75% of the results, correctly.

Before even finding out about the competition, Mr. Cook was determined to watch as many of the films nominated as possible.
“While I’m a self-identified music nerd and have largely developed my mainstream cultural lens through music, I came to the realization last year that there were countless movies and TV shows I had been missing out on that would vastly expand that lens,” he said. “After witnessing the masses fl ock to partake in the biggest event of the summer, ‘Barbenheimer,’ I wanted to channel that movie-going energy into watching every Best Picture nominee from this year’s ballot.”

After immersing himself in countless films and performances, Mr. Cook has grown to be a big fan of the many actors who were nominated this year, he said.

“Yorgos Lanthimos’ next film comes out this year,” he said. “Sign me up. Whenever Sandra Hüller, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Lily Gladstone return to the screen, I’m there. Is Jonathan Glazer working on anything new anytime soon? I’m all ears. These names now have faces, and they mean something to me that they didn’t before.”

Ms. Hudson’s competition has familiarized Mr. Cook with the world of film, motivating him to continue exploring media, he said.
“I’m eager to use this baseline knowledge as a launchpad to dive into more cinematic worlds and uncover more Hollywood lore along the way,” he said.

While it is impossible for everyone to emerge a champion like Mr. Cook, many teachers hope the “inaugural tradition,” as Mr. Crihfield described it, continues to inspire competitive spirit and excitement about film and television well into the school’s future.

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