The broadcast. I’d almost forgotten that’s what it was: an event in which the intended audience was elsewhere, in anonymous living rooms stocked with chips and wine. You knew this because of the time-outs for commercials that broke the show’s momentum every few minutes, reducing it to a series of short, lame bits that forced us—the supposed chosen ones, who were really just extras brought in to fill the shots—to cravenly, insincerely applaud a show that sucked even worse in real life than on television.
Television. That’s where I ended up watching most of it anyway, out in the lobby, on a set above the bar, where I kept getting stranded because the warning lights that signaled us to rush back and take our seats after each of the endless commercial breaks flashed faster than I could bother to move my legs. Plus, the show just looked better on screen, which allowed me to see into the front-row drama pit where Clooney and Baldwin were joshing with each other in a way that convinced me the Best Actor contest had already been decided in George’s favor. Meaning my favor, really.
But I was wrong. Six times in succession, the film I called “my movie” failed to gain the Academy’s approval.
That night confirmed my suspicions: The heart of the matter with the Oscars, and with Hollywood generally, is that there is none. Just when you think you’ve reached the epicenter, the VIP room within the VIP room, a shift occurs, a reversal of perspective, and you find that you’re on the inside looking out with much the same sense of longing and displacement you felt when you were looking in. There’s always another, cooler party behind the next locked door.
I know. I was there. And I can’t wait to go back.