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Oscars aren’t just about the awards

By Katherine Wartell

So, the Oscars are tonight and, really, who doesn’t love watching a theater full of self-satisfied movie people congratulate themselves for three hours?

I realize now that I haven’t actually seen any of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture, but that’s okay, because the best moments from the Oscars are usually not the winners and their boring, weepy speeches. Here are the best parts:

1) The red carpet. There’s a reason red carpet coverage starts hours before the actual show. It is absolutely imperative viewers watch every single nominee tell Ryan Seacrest how excited and blessed they feel, and maybe some other funny, humanizing anecdote that reminds us that stars are just like us.

Plus, it’s fun to see which actors snub which interviewers. You’ll quickly learn who has displeased whom.

The red carpet is also the place where we learn which actress is on which diet. Forget their accomplishments as talented entertainers, I just want to know how they managed to fit into their $1,000 dress, which brings me to…

2) The fashion. Remember when the singer Bjork wore that swan dress thing to the 2001 Oscars? Well, Joan Rivers does because she still makes fun of it on Fashion Police on the E! Network. If that incident has taught any actress anything, it’s that the Oscars are not the time to play around because you will be mocked for years to come by a panel of random TV personalities whose egos are greater than their knowledge of fashion.

Of the Best Actress nominees, I’m guessing that Michelle Williams will look lovely but too saccharine; Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Glenn Close will look like the queens that they are; and Rooney Mara will continue to make me suspect that part of her “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” contract stipulated she show up to every awards show looking sulky and bored in a simple, but dramatic black gown.

The men don’t need to be discussed because everyone knows George Clooney will look the best. He’s George Clooney, and it’s what he does.

3) The hosts trying to make the best of it. Billy Crystal is hosting again this year and he’s done well in the past, but it’s always interesting to see whether the hosts are well-received. And I don’t mean well-received by TV viewers, but by the actual celebrities. Who doesn’t love watching the audience for an actor’s stony-faced reaction to the host’s joke about them? And who doesn’t get second-hand embarrassment when the host only gets stilted laughter and polite clapping as a reward for his troubles? Generally, the jokes do pretty well if they are deferential enough to the celebrity they are mocking, but the biggest sin is to draw attention to the fact that all the Oscars fanfare, is, well, kind of silly.

Jon Stewart, though beloved by many, seemed to have this problem when he hosted, reminding the nominees too often that he thought there were more important issues in the world than a room full of overpaid people.

4) The musical performances. Of which there will apparently be none this year, though two songs are nominated for Best Original Song, “Real in Rio,” and “Man or Muppet,” written by the always charming Bret McKenzie, of the band Flight of the Conchords.

Both songs would have been cute opportunities to break-up the monotony of the talking and dull tributes. And, really, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like song and dance.

Remember the 2005 Oscars when Beyonce sang practically every nominated song? Maybe they should try that again. Or maybe they could employ the cast of Glee. That wouldn’t be annoying.

5) The upsets. It’s always fun when the unexpected happens or when the underdog wins and there’s that almost audible disbelief in the audience that the darling movie or actor didn’t get called.

As much as I love Meryl Streep, a win by her is not particularly exciting in the same way a win by George Clooney is not particularly exciting. It’s too expected.

It’s far more interesting when there is a twist and an actor who had absolutely no expectations of winning, is called to the stage to deliver a flustered, but genuine acceptance speech, which brings me to…

6) The speeches. I know I said they’re boring and weepy, but I’m not such a terrible cynic that I don’t actually find them pretty heartwarming in a sickly sweet way. It’s always nice to see someone sincerely happy that they’ve won.

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