I really don’t like watching the Academy Award ceremonies on TV — and I have probably never missed one for the last 30 years. Somehow I am determined to put myself through this evening of snoredom, so, yes, I will be watching this Sunday night and, come Monday morning, will be yawning and asking myself, “Why, why, why?”
I used to explain my annual experience in masochism by saying, “Oh, I just like to look at the clothes”, but that was really much more fun in the bad old days before everyone hired a “stylist.” (Remember Bjork’s swan outfit, or, even further back, Demi Moore’s personally designed bicycle pants and Cher’s headdresses — well, everything that Cher wore was worth a giggle.) Now everyone looks very expensive and blandly acceptable and it’s only the hope of the occasional wardrobe malfunction that keeps me witnessing the red carpet. And I do recognize the shameless irony of myself, usually in old jeans and sweat shirt, or worse, lounging on the couch and critiquing the designer duds and million dollar jewellery of these incredibly svelte, carefully coiffed and impossibly toned creatures.
Anyway I never really care very much who wins or loses — the point of watching the show is to catch the one or two unscripted moments when the “gods and goddesses” may demonstrate a tiny hint of their humanity. I have seen only four of the best picture nominations this year. (But that is a relatively good score since they began the ridiculous listing system of multiple entries.) And besides, we all know that only three or four of the films are the significant contenders. I’m not at all sure, for instance, why the banal “The Imitation Game” is even in the running. It’s a good story and I’d like to read the book, but the film itself was so tedious that I knew what everyone was going to say before the words tumbled out of their mouths. And while I make no predictions (Not surprisingly, I am never, ever, able to fathom the taste of that glitzy Hollywood crowd), I will say that my personal choice for best picture would be “Boyhood” a truly original production that was so close to my life and my heart that it made me forget that it was almost three hours long.
Much depends on the master of ceremonies, for the TV programme to work, and I notice that this year it will be Neil Patrick Harris. A confession — I had to look him up on Wikipedia to find out who he was. And after that I still am pretty much in the dark. I do hope he is as funny as Ellen was — I really enjoyed Ellen last year, although I thought she was a bit mean to Liza Minnelli when she suggested that she might be a female impersonator and I wondered why she asked poor Amy Adams if she had gone to college. (She hadn’t.)
Anyway, food and film go hand and hand together and whether it’s boxes of Smarties, sugary candy bars or enormous vats of smelly popcorn, I don’t care what people like to nosh at the movies, as long as it doesn’t crinkle, or crackle or go thunk in my ears. When watching the awards on TV, however, your snacks can be as noisy as you wish, since the programming is subject long periods of boredom during which groups of unknown people make lengthy thank you speeches, not to mention the interminable commercial breaks. Watching the Oscars is always so much more fun with friends, so I’ve been thinking about some interesting and creative ideas for party snacks. My first notion was “How about snacks that match up with the films”? For example, sandwiches or apples for The Imitation Game? Pastries for The Grand Budapest Hotel? Pizza for Whiplash? Excessive amounts of alcohol or — well — anything — as long as it’s not squash, for Boyhood???
Okay, this is an idea that’s going nowhere …
I do feel somehow that Oscar parties demand junk food so here are a few fun and completely unnutritious treats for an academy awards viewing evening: freshly popped, buttered and salted popcorn, salt and vinegar chips, chili/lime peanuts, pepperettes and, for those who prefer something sweet, how about a jar of Twizzlers and a big glass bowl of gum drops (They must be very fresh). If you like to take things up a notch, here are a couple of suggestions that require a bit of preparation, but nothing too demanding:
Deviled Potato Skins
my own recipe
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
the skins from 4 baked potatoes, cut lengthwise into
1 inch wide strips
sour cream dipping sauce (recipe follows)
1) In a skillet melt the butter with the Worcestershire, remove from heat and stir in the mustard and cayenne.
2) Brush the insides of the skins with the mixture, arrange them brushed side up on a buttered baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3) Bake the skins in a preheated 450 degree F oven for 5 to10 minutes and serve with dipping sauce.
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix all together. Makes about 1 cup.
my own recipe
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 quarts of unsalted popcorn
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Melt the butter with the lemon juice. Drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing it well, in a large baking pan. Bake in a preheated 300 degree F. oven, stirring once or twice, for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan over hot popcorn and season with salt if desired.
The potato skin strips are not quite as filling and fattening as loaded potato skins — but if you want the real thing, go for it!
And you’re on your own, as far as drinks go.