Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

Four Ways To Add Some Local Flair to Your Oscar Party

By Kevin Mueller
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With each passing year, opportunities to gather friends and family around the television to watch something collectively seem to diminish rapidly. Monumental must-see moments rarely occur over the airwaves anymore, and if they do, they’re more widely watched on the Internet rather than in its original setting. Still, there remain a few television events, the kind that diverts viewers’ eyes away from their computers and smartphones and onto a larger screen. The massive cultural yardstick is obviously the Super Bowl. Not too far behind? The Academy Awards.

These two television phenomenons are popular enough that viewers will open their households to entertain guests. While Super Bowl parties emphasize a parade of unhealthy foods to gorge on and openly accept mass commercialism, Academy Awards parties are often more garish affairs, much like the ceremonies themselves. In advance of this Sunday’s 86th Academy Awards, we’re offering some tips on how to spice up your Oscar party with a little local flair.

1. Compete for a cinematic prize

Any compelling party needs a little competition. What easier way to accomplish some intrigue than wagering on the outcome? An Oscar pool will help liven up the least excitable categories. The envelope opening for the Best Sound Design category will leave you on the edge of your seat for once. Hand out ballots with the Oscar nominees and have guests fill out the winners. Whoever guesses the most correct receives a 12-month membership to Milwaukee Film (assuming they aren’t already members). Packages are relatively cheap, starting at $50 per person, and include one screening each month. The pricier memberships net tickets to the company’s annual film festival in late September. Strapped for cash? Charge a $5 entry fee.

2. Dress up (or down) like film star

Southeastern Wisconsin boasts a handful of actors nominated for Academy Awards—Willem Dafoe, Gene Wilder, Nancy Olson—and even a winner—Spencer Tracy—but there’s perhaps no one more iconic to cinema in the area than Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank, the filmmaker buddies depicted in Chris Smith’s 1999 documentary American Movie. The Wayne and Garth of local film, the two displayed quite unique and diverging styles and personality. For Borchadt, try sporting a goatee, long silky hair, a bulky flannel shirt and some large 1980s glasses. But more important is his relentless attitude and willingness to think big. Schank contrasts that with a much more laconic approach, including some shaggy, long dark hair, a mustache and a Led Zeppelin shirt. Bonus points for shredding one of Schank’s killer guitar solos.


3. Transform your living room into a certain movie palace

Nothing screams Milwaukee film quite like the Oriental Theater. The lavish furnishings were meant impress its ticket-buyers and give them a sense of royalty. Why not do the same for your guests? Simply add some East Indian décor to your party, whether it is an immense Buddha statue with glowing green eyes, a porcelain lion or an elegant chandelier. Okay, that might be hard to pull off. Perhaps dust off out your underused organ. No organ, you say? Just cue up some polka music on your laptop to play during pre-telecast festivities and through the commercials. And adorn your windows with red curtains to give the space the feel of an actual cinema.


4. Blow up a car

Only kidding. But, hell, it’d sure put your party on the map!

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