Confession. I’m a sucker for the Oscars.
Living in Hollywood and working around Industry folk, I would love nothing more to than to be able to say that I don’t give two beans about this outrageously overinflated night of excess and ego … but the simple fact is that I love Oscar night. I guess it’s all due to childhood memories of mom baking yummies and dad settling into his favorite chair and all of us spending three whole hours together: laughing at Billy Crystal or groaning at Chevy Chase, cheering at the surprises, jeering at the upsets, cringing at freakish fashion faux-pas, tearing at the perennial ‘in memoriam’ retrospectives, and on the whole just loving the experience. Being a fan of Hollywood history helps, I admit, because to me it’s not about the media circus and high fashion couture: it’s carrying on the tradition set forth by Fairbanks and Pickford, DeMille and Lasky and Thalberg and Mayer. It’s not about Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, it’s about Hattie McDaniel and Janet Gaynor, Chaplin and Murnau, Bette Davis and Katie Hepburn and Fritz Lang and the Barrymores and Bop Hope.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Academy’s amiable president Sid Ganis two years ago at the opening day of an Academy exhibition called ‘Meet the Oscars’ and it was a terrific treat to realize that he was just as much a fan as everyone else in that room. He said to me, which one of us growing up didn’t stand in front of a mirror and say the words ‘I’d like to thank the Academy.’ Stepping back and not taking the whole damn escapade so damn seriously makes it possible to sit back and enjoy things like Oscar night. And so, jaded as I am with most of modern Hollywood, I still hold a fond affection for Oscar night and you can bet that come this Sunday night I will have my Oscar ballot at the ready, rice crispy treats sitting on the counter top and some champagne in the ice box … rooting for Slumdog.
The Academy’s website has a terrific section on planning the perfect Oscar night, including recipes and printable ballots.
They also have a terrific, informative history section that I highly reccmomend reading.