19 February 2009

Oscar Night & Day

The mirror above the sink in the upstairs bathroom at 51 South Stanwood Road has seen a lot of action. With five Acton kids sharing the bathroom from pre-K-12 and a year or two after college, I'm sure I’m not the only one who pretended to be a spokesman in a commercial pitching products, rehearsed a school speech and answered “where will you be in five years?” My personal favorite bathroom performance was accepting an Academy Award. With one towel wrapped around my head as an up-do and another wrapped as a strapless gown, I’d accept my Oral-B Oscar by first thanking the Academy. I always thanked the Academy before thanking one-by-one my brothers, sisters, and pets. I’d thank others depending on the year, but I always ended my speech by thanking my fans.

This explains why I like watching the Academy Awards ceremony. I like to listen to the acceptance speeches. While the red carpet preshow has become a robotic luxury goods infomercial and Botox spanking machine and the actual program a dull and lifeless show of one-liners, the acceptance speeches have remained real human emotion. Once they announce the winner’s name, genuine shock or joy, surprise or arrogance is on display for the world to see. They might gather their composure on the way to the stage and give a memorable speech (Frances McDormand), or a self-important speech (Julia Roberts) or, they do not collect themselves at all and give a speech worthy of a Raspberry Award (Halle Berry).

While I settle down for a few hours of Hollywood speak, I eat and drink something special. The night only comes once a year, so I always throw a one-woman party. This year I will watch the Academy Awards as I always do, but instead of tuning into them live on Sunday night, I will watch them live Monday morning. Singapore is 13 hours ahead EST. The time difference changes everything. I’ll have to alter my usual drinks, food, and games. What will replace champagne, pâté, shrimp, and chocolates? Coffee, quiche, bacon, and a breadbasket? Taking a sip of champagne every time someone thanks the Academy or when the camera focuses on Jack Nicholson are fun games when facing sleep after the broadcast, but it is quite another when preparing to face a full day.

I turned to the media outlets for a possible party plan. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, and the like describe their ideas for a winning evening Oscar party, but never for morning ones. Therefore, special for this year’s celebration only, I present The BBC, Brunch for the British Contenders. Since I hope it will be a “Slumdog Millionaire” sweep and a Kate Winslet first my theme is British based.

Pimm's Cup: One slice of orange, lemon, apple, cucumber, sprig of mint 2 parts lemonade and 1 part Pimm's

Common English Breakfast: Sausage, bacon, fried eggs (in the bacon pan, of course), baked beans, cooked mushrooms and tomatoes, and fried bread

Game: Take an extra sip every time someone thanks the writers or when the camera focuses on Michael Sheen

Party Favor: Before or after a Brit victory, pop open a Christmas crackers as if it’s a swag bag

The Academy Awards acceptance speeches are the central reason why I celebrate. It is interesting for me to watch and listen to the winners because it gives a sense of who they are and what/who they value. I understand and expect all speeches to being with thanking The Academy no matter how cliché it sounds. It is also equally important to thank the writers straight away because that is where the motion picture begins. One can argue that the life of the movie begins at conception, but I believe that it begins with the birth of the script. Where would the industry be without the script to inspire the director, producer(s) and costume designer, musician, lighting engineer and, at the end of the evolution, the moviegoers!?

So, Kate Winslet and Danny Boyle, I’m counting on you both to give the speech I’d give today in front of my bathroom mirror in #02-02 Draycott 8. Don’t gush, Kate, you’re an actor, act composed! You’ve had plenty of practice this awards season to say something brilliant about The Academy and the writers of the scripts(s). As for you Danny Boy, don’t forget to thank the moviegoers around the world. True, they may not have a lot to do with making a movie, but they certainly have a lot to do with box office receipts! Please make your speeches my reward.

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