Oscars at the Rafael

I just came back from the big Oscar shindig at the Rafael. I’m sorry to say I was disappointed.

I arrived early and entered the main, downstairs theater to plop my stuff down on a seat. That’s when I discovered that my general admission ticket gave me the right to sit in the last four rows, by the front if I was willing to sit way over to the side, or in one of the tiny upstairs theaters. Curiously, the expensive seats never got more than about half full.

Since it was a couple of hours to show time, I got up and wandered the lobby and reception area, checking out the scene and the offerings for the silent auction (the whole thing was a benefit for CFI Education–a good cause). Most of what they were offering seemed above my income bracket, but I guess that was the point of this whole thing. I wondered who would spend $348 (the listed “Fair Market Value–) for a collection of “Pamper Your Pooch– oddities from dogstor.com.

The one item that interested me (although not enough to make a bid) was an old RCA Videodisc player and large collection of titles. Videodiscs were to Laserdisc what Beta was to VHS–the rival format that didn’t make it and died young. No one in their right mind would want these today as a way to watch movies, but it’s a collector’s item.

btw, the auction incorrectly listed the player and discs as “RCA LaserDiscs.– Videodisc players had no lasers, but used a phonograph-like needle. I hope whoever bought it wasn’t hoping to play real LaserDiscs on it.

Food-wise, the hors d’oeuvres were fine, the boxed dinners were okay but not exceptional (croissant sandwiches get soggy), and the desert was spectacular. Not a healthy balance.

The Oscars pretty much looked like they would at home if you own an HDTV, except that during the commercial breaks, Comedian Geoff Bolt stood up and talked to us. But he didn’t say much particularly memorable or funny. Much of the time he would thank people involved with putting on the evening or read the names of raffle winners. When he sounded like he was about to say something interesting, the tech guy would tell him that he had only ten seconds before the commercials were over and Jon Stewart was back.

Fortunately, Stewart was funny–a big improvement over the last time he hosted the Oscars. And I have to admit letting out whoops of joy for Marion Cotillard winning Best Actress for La Vie en Rose, “Falling Slowly” from Once winning Best Song, and Diablo Cody getting Best Original Screenplay for Juno. The Academy occasionally makes intelligent choices.

But I could have enjoyed that just as much sitting at home with my family. Unlike a real movie, the Oscars don’t seem to improve with an audience.