As a self-proclaimed movie buff, I love all things related to the Oscars. Now don’t get me wrong, I generally fashion myself as a reasonably simple, down-home kind of girl. I am not drawn to glitz or glam and I usually wear flats. I’ve never even once worn what I would characterize as an evening gown. I’ve only ridden in a limo twice in my whole life. On 364 days of the year, I actually think that our society’s obsession with celebrities is shallow and kind of dumb. But one day each year, I grant myself the delectable treat to shelve that kind of haughty judgment and just take it all in. Today is that day.
Over the years, I have come a long way with the movies. I say this with all sincerity – I think it’s made me a better person. Back in the day, I had some pretty strict criteria about movies I was willing to watch: no costumes, no accents, no black and white films and definitely no historical lessons. This year, I think I overcame all of that successfully. I saw a movie with costumes (Gravity), an accent (Philomena), a black and white film (Nebraska) and one with historical lessons (12 Years a Slave). I have conquered all of my movie hang-ups.
A few years ago, my friend Colleen and I set out to create our own Oscars challenge. To be honest, I’m not even sure how it started. But now, each year, we do our very best to see all of the nominated films. This was easier back in the day when there were only five Best Picture nominees. This year there were nine. Seeing nine specific films with a strict deadline takes a lot of hard work and dedication, let me tell you. Much to my own satisfaction, I have seen all nine and an additional two on top of that to ensure I also saw all of the movies nominated for Best Actor and Actress this year. Whew! I’m beat!
What I appreciate about this exercise, aside from the straight up bragging rights, is that I am forced to see films that are outside of my comfort zone. Left to my own devices, I would probably only see whimsical little indie films with kick-ass sound tracks. When you set out to see all of the Oscar-nominated films, you have to put your own desires aside. Have there been any regrets? Admittedly, a few. I will never get back the 112 minutes I spent painfully watching District 9. I am still haunted by some of the scenes in 127 Hours that forced me to attempt to simultaneously cover my eyes and my ears. But overall, my Oscars exercise has expanded my horizons. It has helped me to learn a few things I would not otherwise know, and think about a few things I would otherwise never contemplate. Above all else, it has helped me to appreciate the intricate beauty of film-making.
Tonight, like every Oscars night for the past decade or so, I will put on some yoga pants and a hoodie and head to my friend Colleen’s house for our annual Oscars viewing tradition. We will snack and imbibe while we cast a discerning eye on each of the Academy Awards attendees. We – namely Colleen – will repeatedly shush her husband and children if they try to talk during the program, especially the parts where Ellen Degeneres is on stage. It’s our night! Your chatter will not be tolerated, people! Shhhhhhhhh!
As for the future, Colleen and I continue to hold out hope that we will have a dream fulfilled. For years we had envisioned ourselves as Oscars Night seat fillers, but a little research indicated that you needed “prior seat filling experience” (like, how do you get that?) and there might be selections based on attractiveness (which we are both attractive in our own right, but perhaps not by Hollywood standards). So we’ve altered our dream that we will one day be selected for the Oscar Fan Experience, which is the group of people who sit in the bleachers and scream like little school girls when all of the stars walk by on the red carpet. That opportunity is based on a lottery, so we probably have a slightly better chance than we would being selected as a seat filler. We are keeping hope alive!
So finally, since you are probably wondering, here are my 2014 Oscar predictions. Mind you, I am not a member of The Academy. But for what it’s worth:
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Probably Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, though this one could be anyone’s race
Best Friend to Watch the Oscars With: Colleen Dier, hands down
Until next year, everyone…