When the Oscars are just a few days away, the speculation is usually about who is going to take home the gold statuette.
But this year the suspense is about where the glittery, celeb-laden parties are going to be. With the cancellation of several high-profile A-list events like the annual Vanity Fair bash due to the late resolution of the writers’ strike, many stars are unsure where they’ll be celebrating – or drowning their sorrows – after the telecast.
With all the uncertainty, one local movie critic thinks that it might lead to more of an old-school celebration.
“What might happen is the kind of thing that happened 20 years ago before things like Vanity Fair and everyone else decided that they had to throw a huge party, is that there were all these small intimate gatherings at restaurants that you needed to be invited to,” says Richard Crouse, co-host of Reel To Real on Rogers Television.
“Like (legendary agent Irving) `Swifty’ Lazar used to always have a party at Spago,” adds Crouse. “So I bet you that’s going to happen, with a lot of smaller, cooler parties happening.”
The party saviour brigade might already be underway. According to Nikki Finke, who writes the influential Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, stars like George Clooney and Madonna are working on putting together last-minute bashes that could become the talk of Tinseltown on Monday.
Closer to home, Oscar uncertainty also had an effect on parties here. In years past, venues like The Drake and Gladstone hotels have held Oscar parties, but decided against it this year.
Traditionally, charities have also used the event as way to run Oscar-themed fundraisers.
Kacey Siskind, an event planner who volunteers on the board for youth anti-violence organization LOVE (Leave Out Violence Everywhere), says a venue was ready, sponsors lined up, and a local celebrity headliner on board, but had to pull the plug in early January when the Oscars were still up in the air.
“It was too risky, plus, you don’t want to have a half-assed party,” she says, adding they planned to show the telecast at the event and if the Academy Awards were cancelled, “it just would have been a useless party. We could have carried on and done some kind of gala evening, but really the point was an attempt at being similar to the real event.”
Siskind says the group postponed the fundraiser but plan to hold an Oscar party next year, in the hopes of it becoming an annual event.
There are still some public parties around town to celebrate the Oscars. The Bloor Cinema has broadcast the Oscar telecast for many years and this year is no different, although some things are still up in the air.
“Actually, we are still confirming our host, so it’s very dramatic,” jokes Lisa Fender of the Bloor. “The person who’s done it the last few years is stepping down, so we’re still sorting that out. But it is a really good time. We usually have around 400 people, and some people dress up. Well, let’s say the very brave ones show up in their ball gowns.”
The Wolf & Firkin Pub on Elm St. has been hosting an Oscar party for the past four years.
“It’s free to get in and we have a red carpet and we all dress up too,” says bartender Christine Bubleit. “There’s an Oscar pool and it is a lot of fun.”
This year, the Canadian arm of the African Medical & Research Foundation (AMREF) is piggybacking onto the Firkin’s party, although they have a little more invested in Sunday’s telecast.
“AMREF is featured in War/Dance, a documentary about three children in Northern Uganda (see Philip Marchand’s review on E5), where we have been very active in trying to help with the ongoing conflict there,” says Amanda Moore of AMREF. “It’s nominated in the Best Documentary category, so we just wanted to celebrate just how well the film has done.”