I think I enjoyed the Oscars last night more than any other time in my life. And that’s not only because of the big surprise happy ending. I was part of an enthusiastic crowd at the Roxie, cheering, groaning, and applauding. And we were very well entertained during the commercial breaks.
But the Roxie last night was the best, even though it was sort of a disappointment. It was advertised as Up The Awards Benefit Bash (the theaters are not allowed to use the word Oscar in advertising these events). The title and the graphic suggested that they would be making fun of the whole thing. I expected, perhaps, comedians.
The Roxie’s logo for the event
And you really do need a sense of humor if you’re going to stay for the first hour of the event. That’s when celebrities walk the red carpet, being stopped and interviewed by some of the stupidest, most fashion-conscious people ever to hold a microphone.
But occasionally, an interesting comment gets through. Parasite writer/director Bong Joon Ho explained through an interpreter that he originally planned to make Parasite a stage play. But as he kept writing, he found himself thinking about camera angles.
The Red Carpet
So what did the Roxie do to make the night special? When people watching at home had to deal with commercials, we got a lot of unusual and hilarious short subjects. Every time the advertising started, the folks in the projection booth switched to a collection of unique clips gathered by Stev Sechovec, the Roxie’s resident curator of film, video and digital recklessness. Some of the highlights:
- Steve Martin and Gilda Radner attempting to do Dancing in the Dark and not quite getting it right (or more likely, getting it right…for comedy).
- Several fake trailers, including one for The Ten Commandments, and another for a very violent Tarantino movie called Djesus Uncrossed.
- Luke, R2D2, and Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, edited into a rap video.
- A very kinky middle-aged couple get interrupted by their teenage kids.
The only problem was that the shorts were usually stopped in the middle to go back to the Awards.
Another extra: Falafels and other Middle-Eastern snacks free of charge (aside from the cost of admission) from Truly Mediterranean.
Food in the lobby
The Roxie audience was overly talky during the red carpet silliness, but when the real show began, we were cheerful, excited, and attentive. People applauded and sometimes howled with pleasure when their favorites won. Parasite’s surprise win for Best Picture got a standing ovation (or maybe it was just me).
That win, by the way, is Oscar history. For the first time, a film won Best Foreign Language Film (now renamed International Feature Film) and Best Picture. All the more exciting, Parasite really is the best film of 2019.
As usual, the nominated songs were spread throughout the show. With every single tune and lyric, I had to ask myself when did I last like an Academy-nominated song? Even Elton John’s ditty was dull.
Only a couple of winners used their 45 seconds in the limelight to plea for a better world. Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) used his time to call for switching to a vegan diet, although he didn’t actually say that directly. A fair amount of the Roxie’s audience applauded.
It was a hell of a lot better than watching the Oscars at home.