Tales from the press room: Oscars 2012


Finding out how something works and operates is one of my favorite things. Be it a magic trick, a guitar solo, or a computer, I love learning what makes things go. But sometimes, as is usually the case with magic, when you find out how it’s done, the allure of what made it special seems to whither away. That’s not the case here.

See, I’ve always enjoyed the Academy Awards, regardless of my opinion of the Academy itself (hint: they suck). But there’s that weird sort of aura that surrounds it. Seeing every famous movie person in the same room is kind of surreal and odd, and then there’s a man on stage making fun of them. That’s something I like!

This year though, I got to experience the Oscars like I never would have imagined. 

When Alex got the email saying Flixist had been accepted into the press room for the Oscars, all of us at Flixist LA did a dance akin to Wayne and Garth’s from Wayne’s World. We joked that the Academy must have thought we were all Make-A-Wish kids, and thought it’d be in their best interest to work with a charity. But then reality came crashing down on us.

“We’re going to the Oscars. That means we have to actually do stuff, right?”

And thus began the most nerve-wracking few weeks of my life. 

First thing’s first, what is it we’re going to be doing at the show? While initially we thought that it’d be all of us from Flixist LA going, it turned out that only one of us would be there. After a long and painful battle royale, I emerged victorious and would be representing the site at the show. Also because I could interview and work my camera at the same time. But that’s irrelevant! Even our expectations of what I’d actually be doing at the show were quickly squashed. Initially, we all thought I’d be at the Kodak Theatre interviewing the winners one-on-one right after they walked off stage. Thankfully though, it turned out that I’d be in a large room with other journalists doing a press conference style interview. 

As I donned my tuxedo and packed my bag, it all started to hit me. “Holy crap, I’m going to the Oscars. How many folks my age can say that?” Also, I was pretty hungover from the night before, so I knew it was going to be a special kind of day. 

Zombie-walking into the Hollywood Renaissance hotel, I noticed something. There were a lot of press here. I mean, I expected quite a few of us, but it’s hard to visualize a hundred or so press folk dressed to the nines. And boy were we a good looking bunch. After getting settled in my seat, I remembered that there was food at this thing. I expected the usual nibbles: cheese plates, shrimp, veggies, skewers of some sort. But this was cheesy tortellini, pretzels with beer cheese, delicious cakes, even hummus! My hungover self was in heaven, and that was before I got to the sweet tea. Needless to say, the Academy realizes that we’re back here for eight hours. They take good care of their press, which I’m thankful for.

Once the actual show kicked off, it was just like watching from home. Except that you were surrounded by gobs of influential writers and journalists eagerly watching on just like you. Oh, and you’re wearing a tux. However, the main difference between watching it on TV and watching the feed they gave us is occasionally, you’ll see what goes on during the commercials. Imagine, if you will, a very large theatre with every important person in the film business in it, awkwardly making small talk and shifting in their seats. It was a subtle reminder that these are regular folks underneath their talent, fame, and fortune. Also interesting is listening in on the communiqué between the crew. You really get a sense of how organized and how seriously people running the show take this.

But the most surreal part of the night was being forty feet from people I’ve respected for most of my life. You know the feeling you get when you go to a concert for a band that you really love? It’s like that, but you get to yell questions at them. By far the most amazing person there was Christopher Plummer. His no-bullshit attitude and simple honesty was a great relief from what I was expecting from most of the winners. One reporter asked him a pretty lame question, to which Plummer flipped it, and made one of the best statements ever. When asked if he thought there was a double standard for the public supporting gay actors, Plummer responded “We’re all actors, and a gay actor can play a straight guy beautifully and vice versa. It’s wonderful, because it cancels out all of the sexual differences and all the sort of preconceived misunderstandings of a sexual existence.”

The interviews with the winners were surprisingly informal, yet very professional. I was only able to get in two questions, one to Best Editing winners Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Best Adapted Screenplay winners Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon for The Descendants. I’ll present those to you in just a bit.

The only thing I had issue with is that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of anything in the press room, and I wasn’t allowed to be in the photo-area. Hopefully next year, we’ll have someone in that section to bring you pictures of celebrities acting like pterodactyls. Overall, though, I loved going to the Oscars, and I sincerely hope that they allow us back next year. But this time, could we please get one or two more people in? I’ll take back some of the things I’ve said about the Academy over the years. Please?

Read on for my measly contribution to the interviews!


Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

Me: Coming at The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s a completely different movie from The Social Network. What were some of the challenges in cutting this kind of movie?

KB: Its length.

AW: Yeah. The screenplay was much, much longer than The Social Network, so there’s the proportional amount of footage and performance to go through was just a much a bigger task in a lot of ways.

KB: If it were being conceived for a film, I think it would have been a different thing, but it came from a book and you have to kind of work with what you had. So it was a new way to kind of…Zaillian did a terrific job, but it was a challenge.


Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon

Me: This is actually a question for Jim. How could NBC ever cancel Community when now that the Oscar winning Dean Pelton is on it?

Jim Rash: I guess I should take this into their offices tomorrow and see what I can do. You know, the good news is we’re back on March 15th so maybe hopefully maybe this will help with Season 4, I don’t know.

Me: Well, we’re all looking forward to it. Congrats.