Englert to host free Academy Awards screening 'Hollywood Live!'
The glitz and glamour of the 85th Academy Awards will be transported into an intimate Iowa City theater in which guests may dress for a walk on the red carpet and munch on movie-theme hors d’oeuvres.
Chris Okiishi will host his Hollywood Live party at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Admission is free, but there is a suggested $10 donation at the door.
Okiishi has hosted Academy Awards parties at his home every year since 1991. In the early 2000s, the event started to escalate, and at one point, more than 300 people attended.
He knew a bigger space was needed for the party, and the Englert offered its space.
“[Okiishi] is a really fun, engaging party host, but like anyone, his house can only hold so many people,” said Englert development director Katie Roche. “So, by hosting this at the Englert, he can throw a bigger party, and now, with the permission of the Academy Awards, we are also able to have the party serve as a benefit to the theater.”
While Okiishi does intend to watch the show, he will also offer several contests during the evening complete with prizes for guests.
The “Guess the Winners Contest” invites each guest to play along with the show and fill out a ballot on who they believe will win.
“Most people enjoy movies,” Okiishi said. “So it’s the type of contest that even people with a limited amount of information can still make an educated guess.”
Along with the nomination ballots, there will also be a contests for “Best Dressed Guest,” in which attendees dress for the red carpet, “Best Costumed Guest,” in which people dress as characters from the year’s films, and “Best Movie-Theme Food.”
While the event will be catered by Bread Garden Market, guests are invited to bring their own “movie-theme food” to share. In the past, some of the winners have included Hillary Pigs in a Swank-et and the Lord of the Onion Rings.
This year, as a special addition, there will also be a lip-sync contest to the Adele song “Skyfall” as she sings it live on the program.
For some, however, the event is more about being able to take part in “Hollywood’s biggest night” in a local venue.
Andy Brodie, a cofounder and board head of FilmScene, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing and discussing film as an art in Iowa City, is pleased to sponsor an event that is becoming a tradition.
“I just enjoy the Oscars as a celebration of the movies,” he said. “The recognition of the art and craft that goes into making them and the opportunity to reflect on the beauty and inspiration that’s possible through cinema.”
“I saw Amour in early September at the Telluride Film Festival,” he said. “It was so nice to see it with a large audience; it’s a tough but tender film with incredibly powerful lead performances.”
Richard Wiebe, a graduate student teaching screenwriting at the UI, said Amour was his favorite as well.
“It represents a film that is extraordinarily moving and powerful,” he said. “It is something that I can imagine an independent filmmaker creating, and that is the kind of film I would like to applaud, something very human, but something a talented UI undergrad could make with a little ambition.”
When talking to his students about their films, Wiebe points out that the Oscars are a false standard of greatness of what can actually be done.
He said that sometimes, students may see the Oscars as being crippling, so he tries to empower them to see what they can actually achieve.
“One of the first things we do is talk about our favorite films and filmmakers, but I want to try to encourage [the students] to write a script they actually could make,” he said. “The Oscars and Hollywood don’t have to dictate our ambitions.”
One of the “typical Hollywood narratives” Wiebe did not necessarily enjoy was Argo.
He was invested in the film from the beginning sequence, he said, but then, the movie seemed to guide him on how he was “supposed to feel.”
“There would be moments where sort of unnecessary cinematic conventions would be deployed, like an orchestral score or shots of Ben Affleck, that were so pensive and to me funny,” he said.
This year, Seth MacFarlane will host the event, a job that Brodie describes as a “tough gig” for a first-time host.
“In general, I favor a traditional approach to the awards,” Brodie said. “MacFarlane can sing and do a little dancing, so we’ll see how he puts those skills to use.”
Whether guests have studied the films and are serious about who is going to win or just enjoy watching the red-carpet fashion, there will be something for everyone at the screening.
“This event is fast becoming an Iowa City tradition at the Englert, and as we see it, the more the merrier,” Roche said.
For those who don’t want to indulge in the big-party scene, there will also be a free screening at 6 p.m. on Sunday in the Bijou.
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 24
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: Free; $10 donation suggested
The 85th Academy Awards
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 24
Andy Brodie of FilmScene
1. Best Picture: Argo
2. Actress in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
“I’d love to see Emmanuelle Riva win for Amour. She’s the oldest actress ever nominated for Best Actress, and this year also has the youngest actress ever nominated, Quvenzhané Wallis.”
3. Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
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