5 Names to Know Before Attending an Oscar Party

By Noah Kaufman |

Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor. © Mark Savage/Corbis

Congratulations, you've made it to the end of awards season. You've watched the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild congratulate one another and you probably even pretended the Golden Globes were prestigious. (No group that nominated Burlesque for a best picture award gets to be called prestigious ever again.) But now it's time for the only real game in town: the Academy Awards. And when you head to a party serving Jell-O shots shaped like little Oscars, here are some people to bring up.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Why You Should Know Him:
I know, you look at his picture and say, "Oh yeah, he's that guy from 12 Years a Slave. His name's on the tip of my tongue." No it's not. Practice saying it with me: CHOO-it-tel EDGE-ee-oh-for. He's the best actor in one of the best movies of the year, so be prepared to keep repeating it on Oscar night.

Joshua Oppenheimer

Why You Should Know Him:
Oppenheimer's film credit was limited to The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase, before he pulled off one of the most fascinating Oscar-nominated documentaries ever. For The Act of Killing, he got Indonesian death squads to recreate their horrific actions using methods of their choosing including sci-fi alien makeup, dancing girls and musical numbers.

June Squibb

Why You Should Know Her:
She's nominated for her portrayal of Kate in Alexander Payne's movie Nebraska, which follows a man who's woefully misled by a million dollar sweepstakes letter and should make the people at Publishers Clearing House feel terrible about themselves every day for the rest of their lives. Here's another fun fact to drop at the party: Squibb is not the only Academy Award nominee who was on the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show. She shares that honor with Jennifer Lawrence (JLaw is the one in the middle). Thank you, the Internet, for making sure these things are never forgotten.

Steve McQueen

Why You Should Know Him:
Everyone knows he directed 12 Years a Slave. You will get bonus points, however, by knowing that if the Brit wins, he will be the first black person to get an Oscar for Best Director. You will get more bonus points if you can name the first black person ever to win any Oscar. Everyone who just shouted "Sidney Poitier," hang your heads in shame. That honor belongs to…anyone? Anyone? That would be Hattie McDaniel, 24 years earlier than Poitier, for Gone With the Wind.

Emilio Fernández

Why You Should Know Him:
He is the only person on this list who has not actually been nominated for an Oscar. But he doesn't need one. The Oscars came to him. It might be hard to tell, given the luxurious head of hair and fantastic mustache, but way back in 1928 Fernández got naked and became the model for the smooth Oscar statue we all know and love. And yet there is no mention of him at all on the Oscar website. Maybe Will Ferrell can work on that for us.

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