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Small talk is the glue that keeps society together. It's what fuels our days, what fills our time and what makes long, seemingly unending elevator rides ever-so-slightly bearable.

Seriously, just imagine being stuck traveling 40 floors with one other person if you weren't able to bring the California drought. Or waiting in line at the office coffee maker without the crutch of the big game last night. It doesn't even matter what sport—just knowing that somewhere, someone was playing a big game, and you can ask about it if you have to is comforting. 

But after awhile, a person tires of the same old standbys. Or one realizes that people are starting to get wise to the fact that one is always, always bringing up their commute, and the next thing one knows they're known around the office as the Crazy Traffic Lady. 

This is why award season is such a relief. For starters, it's a great escape from the everyday drudge of real life (especially this year), but it also provides nearly endless fodder for all those who seek to find something to say in an awkward silence. Award season is the conversational gift that keeps on giving. 

But in order to reap these benefits, a person needs to be at least mildly informed. Think of the social suicide that befalls a person who exclaims, in a silent conference room, "Did you know that Ryan Gosling sings in his new movie?" Or the shame brought upon the person who thinks that Manchester by the Sea is a British period piece about fisherman? It's horrifying. Stick to our pre-approved and fully vetted talking points and you'll make it through the season in one piece. 

Wow, it seems like all of Ryan Reynolds' awards campaigning really paid off. 

His pet project movie, Deadpool, is the first ever live-action superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes (in the musical or comedy category). That is huge. The hugeness cannot be oversold. A group of Hollywood experts just definitively said that Deadpool blows the Avengers and the X-Men and their cronies completely out of the water. Of course, this isn't just happenstance: Reynolds has been trying to get this movie onscreen for the better part of a decade, and he's been campaigning hard for its inclusion in award season. Think of him like Leonardo DiCaprio last year, only not quite as desperate. 

I think this is finally going to be Casey Affleck's year to outshine Ben. 

The younger Boston brother has long been in Ben's shadows, whether it was playing a much smaller role in their breakout Good Will Hunting or just generally being nowhere near the movie star that Ben is. But this year, Casey has a starring role in Manchester by the Sea, a movie that he literally carries on his booze-and-tear-and-saltwater-stained shoulders. And Ben? Well, blame it on scheduling, but Ben is nowhere to be seen on the nomination lists. Manchester is going to be the talk of the town this season, and Casey has as good of a chance as he's ever had to finally take home his Oscar. 

I don't know about you, but I thought Ryan Gosling was a totally legit dancer. 

By now, if you haven't heard of a little project called La La Land then we can't help you. If you are familiar, yet the idea of sitting through a modern-day riff on Singin' in the Rain sounds like a new kind of torture, then just stick to talking about the singing and dancing. It's basically all in the trailer, and you can debate Gosling and costar Emma Stone's tap-dancing and ballad skills all the live long day. 

Does Natalie Portman have to be pregnant to get nominated?

The last time she made the award circuit, for Black Swan, Natalie Portman was expecting. She's been in plenty of movies in the six years since, but it wasn't until this year, with Jackie, that she's back on the voters' radar. And, suspiciously, she is yet again with child. Conspiracy theory? Coincidence? Discuss. 

I've seen plenty of this year's nominated TV shows and movies, and I know I cried during more than half of them.

2016 is the Year of Tears. From Manchester by the Sea's devastating family drama, to This Is Us' devastating plot twists, to Arrival's devastating surprise ending, to literally every second of Moonlight, you'd have to be dead inside not to be bawling all through the winter. 

Fun fact: I just found out that the Weinstein Company's Lion, starring Dev Patel, isn't actually about a lion

Sure, this could be discovered by a simple Google search, but why assume that everyone you encounter has done that? Instead, drop some knowledge bombs on them by explaining that the film is about a young boy who gets lost from his family on a train, winding up thousands of miles across India, eventually gets adopted by an Australian family, only to start remembering his traumatic childhood 25 years later when he can use technology to find his birth family. 

I wonder what the GIFs are going to look like this award season without Jennifer Lawrence

Barring any sort of super bizarre moves from the Academy, JLaw is going to be completely shut out from nominations. Unlike basically every year since her breakout, she doesn't have an obvious Oscar bait project to put her at the forefront of every award show conversation. Sure, she'll most certainly be invited to present, but it just won't be the same. 

Anthony Hopkins was robbed!

Guys, how did he not get a nomination for Westworld? He's. So. Good. That entire show is insanely complicated, but just stick to how much you love Hopkins and you'll be good. If you run out of fodder, try saying, I totally knew there were two timelines, and then nod a lot as the other person discusses. 

I have a feeling this is Mel Gibson's year to get Robert Downey Jr'ed. 

It's been a long, hard road for Mel Gibson to get back in the good graces of Hollywood and citizens the world over. He tried with that beaver movie but it just didn't stick. This year, he went behind the camera for Hacksaw Ridge, the Andrew Garfield-starring flick about a World War II soldier who refused to fire his gun. The Academy loves a redemption story, and the emotionally-charged thank you speech just writes itself. 

Is it ever going to be Amy Adam' year?

Poor Amy Adams. She keeps churning out amazing performances. She keeps being nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars—over the last decade, she's been nominated for something six different years. But she's won only one Golden Globe and zero Oscars. What gives, voters?

That guy from House of Cards made a great decision leaving the show.

Mahershala Ali, who played Remy Danton, left the show to pursue a movie career, and boy did he pursue the crap out of it. He stars in two big flicks this season, with a role as the father-figure drug dealer in Moonlight, and a spot opposite Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures. He set his own bar super high. 

So, how many nightmares did YOU have after Arrival?

The Amy Adams-Jeremy Renner drama is about so much more than aliens. It's about how we communicate with each other. It's about how audiences watch and digest movies. It's about the meaning of life. It's about what happens when people don't work together. But it's also about aliens, and those creatures are really, really gross-looking. 

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