1 - The celebration of achievement in film. Here's a lovely explanation of my view of film as an art form by David Bordwell, co-author of one of my university textbooks, Film Art:
"Rather than denounce mass-audience filmmaking as mindless or manipulative, we have to be alert for those moments and those films that are subtly altering received forms and formulas. These changes aren’t 'deviations' from norms but revisions or transformations of them, sometimes wholesale alternatives to them. Once a student called me perverse: 'You look for the innovative parts of conventional films and the conventional parts of innovative films.' Not the complete truth, but a good part of it, I must admit."
I feel the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does this very thing in selecting its nominees each year. Art is always subjective, and every year people gripe about who was left off the nominee list and who got on. But the Academy has its criteria, and it's not always obvious as to why, especially when the film or performance is a step or two ahead of its time.
2 - The red carpet. I love the whole red carpet event. Especially for the union of two creative mediums - film and fashion.
I don't understand the people who are jaded and think of the whole affair as a parasitic use of one for the other. Let's replace that word with symbiotic. Then it becomes a win-win situation.
3 - Best-dressed women - for someone who rarely gets dressed up myself, I love haute couture fashion. This is where design is at its most creative and I find that exciting. I 'ooo' and 'ahh' and really enjoy seeing Hollywood's most beautiful women presenting themselves at their most luscious.
4 - Best-dressed men - These fashions tend to be more traditional, but men in formal tuxedoes just look knee-weakening-hot.
Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman
Peter Jackson, Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg
5 - The Billy Crystal opening songs. The first year he did it - truly inspired. And every other year, still inspired. I miss those.
"It's a wonderful night for Oscar - Oscar, Oscar - who will win?"
6 - Film montages, especially last year's Tribute to Foreign Language Film Winners. Just check out the segues between the films in this montage.
7 - The film clips they show when they announce the nominees for the acting and directing awards. I love watching what has been chosen to represent the performance as a whole. We get dropped right into the most dramatic and stressful moment. I love that!
8 - Oh, how my family loves the Oscars. Some families are hockey families. Some families are political families. My family is a film and tv family, and we never miss an Oscar broadcast.
One year we had our monthly family dinner on Oscar day, and my mom and I went all-out. She made a red carpet (which we didn't tell anyone about until they were on it.) We had all agreed to wear blingy red-carpet wear, though, so as soon as someone arrived, we surrounded them with a camera and a microphone and said, "Who are you wearing?" This is my cousin's daughter showing off her evening gown.
This is my other cousin Charlie arriving, armed with shades to ward off the paparazzi.
There's the paparazzi now. I'm all decked out in vintage flapper style.
This is my cousin's husband, my sister and me playing an Oscars trivia game (my husband Brad is the quiz master, reflected in the mirror.)
9 - My mom tries to see all the best actor/actress nominees before the Oscars, but I usually can't swing it. Leading up to the Oscars, I can figure out what I need to about their performances from previews and clips, anyway. I always have favorites whom I hope will win, but I also have a likely-to-win list as well. I seriously feel that every performance nominated in each year is a winner.
10 - I love the clips from both the animated and live-action short subjects, because it's not likely I'll ever get to see them, and I enjoy that brief glimpse into those films.
11 - This might sound weird - probably is - but I find it fascinating to watch the degree of fear present in the nominees. These people go through a lot in their creative lives, pushing past their comfort zones all the time. And yet the Oscars reduces them all to states of intense anxiety. What I find fascinating is watching how they rise above it all - mostly with grace and poise - when I would be a basket case in their shoes.
12 - The Post-Oscar Governor's Ball and the Vanity Fair Party. I love thinking of all the awards show attendees finally relaxing after so much stress at these parties. Here Helen Mirren and Jamie Foxx chill with a friend at the Vanity Fair party, with Francis Ford Coppola one table over.
How I would love to go to one of those parties. And eat a gold-covered chocolate Oscar by Wolfgang Puck.
13 - Local events with an Oscars theme. These often raise money for different causes, while regular folk get to be celebrities for a night. My best friend Connie and I attended one of these soirees last Saturday night here in Halifax. It's called Haliwood and was held at the Lord Nelson Hotel.
Photo - James Ingram
This is me with the guy who appears on the print ads for the event.
Connie had put her name in for a pair of tickets and won them (otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to go.) It was a fundraiser for Kids Help Phone.
I'd never been to the Lord Nelson, which was fun in itself. What a gorgeous older hotel. We dined on an endless parade of hors d'oeuvres.
We had fun watching the live golden models break their poses to chat with guests.
We saw my friend Jen perform with the Pink Velvet Burlesque and listened to an 8-piece band who were awesome.
And we got our pictures taken with practise Oscars - so we'll be ready for the real thing.