Even after 84 years, the illustrious Academy Awards are as compelling as ever. Watching the gussied-up glitterati vying to get their hands on that slim, golden statuette provides as many thrills as that tense moment of anticipation before the envelopes are unsealed, not to mention the fashion feats and flops and the inevitable missteps that come with live television. Whatever your reasons for watching, the Oscars provide an excellent excuse to gather around the television with good company—and ideally some Hollywood-caliber cocktails. So roll out your red carpet, stock up on Kleenex, and follow these tips for a memorable Oscars-watching experience.
Do Your Homework
What fun is it to sit through a lengthy celebration of the film industry if you’re unfamiliar with the major players? Prep for the big night by giving yourself a crash-course in all things Oscars. Many of this year’s nominated movies are out on DVD, including Best Picture candidates The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, and The Tree of Life, so bust out your biggest bucket of popcorn and cozy up on the couch for a massive movie marathon—all in the name of research, of course. Come awards night you’ll be as in-the-know as host Billy Crystal himself!
Conveniently timed right around dinner, use the lengthy ceremony as an excuse to gather your friends and family for some glorious grub. Snack on crowd-pleasing finger foods, such as Crispy Wedge Fries, Gluten-Free Stuffed Celery Bites, and White Bean Bruschetta, during the show’s less thrilling categories—after all, nothing spices up the acceptance speech for Best Sound Editing like savory veggie hors d’oeuvres. Once you and your guests have worked up an appetite, get into the Oscars spirit by whipping up some festive dishes inspired by the leading nominees. Gush about George Clooney’s performance in The Descendants over Hawaiian Pineapple Tofu, munch on Melty Cheese Fondue while remembering Midnight in Paris, and warm your belly with smoky Vegan Sausage Stew worthy of The Help’s Southern setting.
Call the (Eco) Fashion Police
Channel your inner Joan Rivers and critique the stars’ sartorial selections by tuning in to live red carpet coverage, airing on multiple networks before the ceremony. Keep an eye out for Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth, who launched her third-annual Green Carpet Challenge last month at the Golden Globes in an effort to encourage sustainable fashion at high-profile events. In addition to sporting her own eco-friendly duds, Firth has paired 10 iconic designers with celebrity Green Carpet ambassadors, each of whom will wear one-of-a-kind designs to awards ceremonies throughout the year. Earlier this month, Oscar-nominee and Green Carpet Challenge participant Viola Davis wore a salmon-colored Valentino dress made from recycled soda bottles to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, so expect more innovative fashions at Sunday’s event.
Cheer on the Vegans!
This year’s Oscars roster features a noteworthy vegan presence, with longtime vegan and film-industry darling Jessica Chastain nabbing a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in last summer’s The Help. Though The Help didn’t make it into the Best Visual Effects category, the film did feature a bit of vegan movie magic: the platter of fried chicken Chastain’s character Celia Foote devours actually contains Tofurky-wrapped tofu dogs, battered and fried. Other veg connections this year include Best Picture hopefuls The Artist, which stars proud ethical vegan James Cromwell in a supporting role, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, based on the book penned by vegan Eating Animals author Jonathan Safran Foer.
Though your living room is likely a far cry from Los Angeles’ glamorous Kodak Theatre, you can still get a piece of the awards-show action by turning your star-gazing experience into an interactive affair. This year, the Academy, along with The New York Times has created a Facebook application that enables fans to track and share their Oscars predictions with their friends, and also offers a printable ballot for those interested in participating low-tech style. Or you can always take a cue from Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy and her castmates, who suggested audience members at the Screen Actors Guild Awards take a sip of booze every time someone says the world “Scorsese.” With the prolific director’s film Hugo up for 11 awards Sunday evening, that game is sure to make for some abundant imbibing.
Following these tips will have you and your guests reveling in Academy Awards elation from the moment the first bedazzled dress graces the red carpet, to the stars’ final swig of champagne. And don’t fret if you’re still in party mode when the last category rolls around: with a vast selection of official and unofficial post-show TV specials to choose from, you and your friends can sustain Oscars fever well into the night.
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