I discovered just how fun an Oscar party can be. It happened last night at the Cerrito.
But I must confess: I did not, after all, come costumed as a lesbian gardener ballet dancer with an eye patch. A few people were costumed as movie characters, however, and a great many dressed up formally for the evening.
Each one of us received a bag of goodies as we entered. Mine included a glow wand, a pen, some candy, a CD from a musician I’d never heard of, and a cheap, cardboard horn. I don’t know how identical the bags’ contents were, but I can say with absolute certainly that there were a lot of glow wands, and a lot of cardboard horns. The later contributed to the general merriment.
Houselights were up for the red carpet preshow, and down for the actual program. During commercials, the screen went blank, the houselights came up, and Rialto Cinemas employee Melissa Hathaway (no relation, I assume, to show co-host Anne Hathaway) came onstage with trivia questions.
Throughout the entire evening, other Cerrito employees moved through the theater giving out hors d’oeuvres. This was in addition to the Cerrito’s normal snack bar offerings, which are more like a restaurant’s than a movie theater’s.
Few contestants stood up for the costume contest. The winner was dressed as Helena Bonham Carter’s queen from The King’s Speech. She didn’t get my vote, however (the choice was made by a panel of judges, not the audience). I liked the woman dressed as Rooster Cogburn. (I took some photos, but I’m not satisfied with the results.)
The enthusiastic audience enhanced the show itself. People cheered and applauded, with remarkably little booing. When the Cinematography and Sound Mixing winners made a point of thanking their union crews, the East Bay crowd gave their approval. I wasn’t the only person to applaud silent-film historian Kevin Brownlow for his life-achievement award.
Speaking of life-achievement awards, I’m amongst those who resents that these are now done at a separate, non-televised ceremony. These were always the best part of the Oscars for me.
The show itself was entertaining, and the winners predictable. But I can’t help wondering: Did the majority of Academy members who saw both Toy Story III and The Illusionist really think the kiddie movie deserved the Best Animated Feature award? Or has voting for the Pixar entry simply become a reflex action?