What is there to say about the Oscars that hasnt already been said?
Lots, it turns out. For the next two weeks, you wont escape the fever pitch, but who would want to? Because the Oscars really is the celebration of the film business and, by extension, our town. (Did you know the Oscars means $127 million added to our L.A. economy? And that doesnt count the gold!)
For some, Oscar is about the race and obsessive handicapping: Will Heath Ledger win posthumously? Will our cover girl, Anne Hathaway, win Best Actress against her former costar and idol, Meryl Streep? Will Best Picture go to one of the docufilms, like Milk or Frost/Nixon, with such veterans as Sean Penn and Ron Howard involved, or will the newcomer in the field, Slumdog Millionaire, surprise us all?
Then theres the show itself: For people all over the globe, Hollywood is a virtual place. For us, its a hometown happeningand we take pride in being the center of the global film community. We love sharing in the universal experiences cinema brings. No matter the economic times, the weather or the street we live on, we all love the movies.
Because in this city, movies are in every nook and cranny. Our friends and neighbors are on sets at 5 a.m. and on location at all hours. We see Hollywood in our stores and restaurants. Its in the air, with klieg lights and limousines and billboards screaming. And its that fabulous sign...
For us in the media, well, it depends on the point of view. To some outlets, its the frenzy over gowns and who is escorting whom and will Hugh Jackman dance and who will be superjeweled on the red carpet that is the pomp and circumstance of it all.
Here at LA, its all about looking at the Academy Awards through a new lensmarrying history with the now, pairing out-of-the-box interviewees with interviewers and exploring what makes Oscar magic. Its David Steinbergs story of scribes Barrie and Mulholland, who worked with Johnny Carson on all of his Oscar words. Its Hathaways conversation with Jenny Lumet, who wrote the award-winning screenplay for Rachel Getting Married, and Ron Howards sit-down with Steve Martin. Its Howard Rosenman explaining how an obsession with Elizabeth Taylor changed the course of his lifemore than onceillustrated with his personal photos. Its Gil Cates recalling a python going missing at one of his Oscar shows. Its John Patrick Shanleys ruminations on the source of doubt in his life. And its Nic Harcourt, in his debut column, Turn It Up, tackling not only music recommendations but an exclusive interview with award-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
And its the extra added attractions: a Wheres Oscar? pullout, 50 memorable movie titles and ultimate authority on Oscar entertaining Wolfgang Pucks secrets for giving an Academy Awards party at home. And for fashionistasclearly some of Oscars most avid fansthe red carpet outfits wed like to see, through the eyes of one of our favorite artists, Mats Gustafson.
For meand, my guess is, for youits a celebration of moments that shine in the work: the flutter of Kate Winslets eyes as the verdict is announced in The Reader; Dev Patel in Slumdog, envisioning the breathtaking vision of Freida Pinto on the train platform; Philip Seymour Hoffmans expression as it dawns on him what Meryl Streeps up to in Doubt; Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, mustering the courage to confront Debra Winger; and a beaming Sean Penn in Milk, challenging San Franciscans, I am here to recruit you.
And underneath it all, its about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself. What it does goes far beyond the world party that is the awards show. Less known, but no less important, are such programs as a collaboration with the L.A. Unified School District on a media-literacy program (my personal favorite), an annual screenwriting competition called the Nicholl Fellowships and the yearly Student Academy Awards, all to encourage and recognize excellence in the next generation of filmmakers.
So, with two weeks to go, get ready for our towns best bashand the immortal words And the Oscar goes to...
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