Last night was our umpteenth annual Oscar Party, and as always, it was a great time. I don't think The Hurt Locker was really the best film, but a lot of us here love Kathryn Bigelow, and to think that she was the first Best Director who wasn't a white male ever kind of boggles the mind. Maybe I need to go back and watch Point Break now...
Sandra Bullock's film did not interest me that much, but her speech nearly made me weep. District 9 was not Best Picture, but with a $30M budget, made me wonder where the other $100+ million go on Hollywood sci-fi movies. Up did not win Best Picture (Best Animated Feature is a sop, I'm sorry), but made me wish there was a category for Best Short Film Within a Feature Length Movie for its opening montage, maybe one of the best movie love stories ever. I was extremely happy to see Christoph Waltz win for his amazing performance in Inglourious Basterds, and his acceptance speech was so full of gratitude that it warmed the cockles of my heart, including the sub-cockles. I wish Inglourious Basterds had won Best Original Screenplay since I think it is Tarantino's best writing since Pulp Fiction. Avatar's wins for Art Direction and Visual Effects felt well deserved, but how do you win a Cinematography award for a film shot primarily on green-screen? Ah, well.
I would have given the Best Picture statue to Up In The Air, which I highly advise everyone to see. All the principal actors are excellent, and I will now see pretty much anything Jason Reitman makes based on his first three outings (Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up In The Air). Vera Farmiga is excellent, and Anna Kendrick may have the best crying scene ever captured on film.
What does it say about us that so many of the Best Picture nominees dealt with alienation? Avatar touched on how separated we are from the natural world, and the art director's speech reminded us that the world we live in is as wonderful as the one they created for us; District 9 showed us a world of alien refugees living in apartheid; The Hurt Locker dealt with a man addicted to the adrenalin rush of defusing bombs; and Up In The Air gave us a portrait of a man who has willfully cuts himself off from the connections that give our lives meaning, like friends and family.
If you like movies, you really should have an Oscar Party. Even if you don't like the nominees, it's a night dedicated to the glorious potential of cinema. I know people who host Superbowl parties because they like the commercials and they have a compulsive need to entertain with chili, and they don't really give a flying rat's three fingers what the score is or who's playing, so if you like films (and I know you do), you should throw an Oscar party next year. Here's how you do it:
1) Enjoy movies (nuff said).
2) Send an invite right after the nominations are announced in February, as this gives everyone time to download I mean get out to see the nominated films.
3) Make it a pot luck so you don't have to do all the cooking.
1.5) This is really important and I should have mentioned it earlier: have really good friends and cool acquaintances, because your party won't be much without them.
Where was I? Oh, right,
4) Print out a ballot from www.oscar.com and get some copies made. Give one to each guest (and your kids if they insist).
5) Dish a little bit on the red carpet, including how ludicrous the amount of attention spent on the red carpet is. (Best shot ever: when Heather saw Catherine Zeta-Jones getting out of a limo followed by (husband) Michael Douglas and said "Aw, that's sweet, she brought her dad!")
6) Bring a big bag of wrapped candies.
7) Whenever anyone gets a guess right, praise them and throw them a toffee or some such (cf. Pavlov et al).
8) Have a small prize (i.e. gift certificate from Best Buy, movie tickets, etc) and give it to the person with the most correct predictions.
Bonus Points for The March of the Dead: every Oscar telecast includes a montage where they show all the Hollywood types who passed on in the previous year, and in the spirit of macabre humor and the trivializing of mortality, we have made it into a drinking game. Here is how it works:
1) If they show a person you do not recognize, no problem.
2) If they show someone you recognize, and you were aware of their passing, no problem.
3) If a name comes up that you recognize, but you were unaware that they had died (i.e. "Oh shit, Dom Deluise died?!"), take a drink. In some years, it is not unheard of for a drink to be taken in memory of Abe Vigoda, who is actually still among the living.
We typically make this drink a shot of some form of mild liqueur (this years sampling consisted of Butter Ripple Schnapps, Goldschlager and Travis Hasse's Apple Pie; I got away with 5 shots while Mike and Pete took 6 apiece. This was a pretty good year for us all, as we have been known to dip into the double digits, which can be harsh, but hey, that's the rules of the game.
This year's overall winner was our good friend Sylvia with 14 right, who narrowly edged out her own husband and our minister's partner (and me with 13 as it turns out, but I am disqualified as it is unbecoming for the host to win (which I think has only happened once in the last decade)). The record is still held by my sister with an astonishing 19 correct, from back when we lived at our old place. I really should keep those sheets...
Next year, if you can't come to mine, throw your own Oscar party. Be like the Na'vi and not like George Clooney's character in Up In The Air:
Make a connection.
If you have trouble with point 1.5 above, start working on it now, it's worth it. And if you hate all the nominees, get some foam bricks and throw them at the screen.