Those of you who follow me on social media know that I’m married to a Hollywood director/screenwriter/producer, Rod Lurie. As a result I, from time to time, get to meet a celebrity or two. If you’ve been following me on social media you also know that lately I’ve been in celebrity overdrive. That’s not because of any particular project Rod or I are involved in, it’s because of it’s Awards season. The Golden Globes, the Critic’s Choice and most importantly, The Oscars. The studios are campaigning for Academy members (like Rod) and critics who will vote for the films they produced and when it comes to Oscar campaigning, the studios don’t play.
Screenings, luncheons, dinners, parties…it’s not just that we could go to a different event every day, it’s that we could go to several events every day. The studios try to woo the voters not just with the quality of the films, but with food, cocktails and one-on-one time with the stars of the shows. Brie Larson, Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Brian Cranston, Ice Cube, Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, I’ve been at parties with all of them in the last two months. And then there are the celebrities who aren’t in a movie this year but are also at some of these parties. They’re there to either support their friends, be wooed along with the other Academy voters or maybe they’re just in the mood to go out. That’s how I’ve met Rosanna Arquette, MC Hammer, Sean Penn, Sharon Stone, James Woods and the legendary Barbra Streisand. We actually declined invitations to events with Spike Lee, Johnny Depp, Idris Elba, Ryan Gosling etc. Now obviously I would LOVE to meet or even lay eyes on the men I just named, but this isn’t my industry, this isn’t my job and if I’m going to get anything done in the job I actually have I have to pass on a party or two, even parties that promise selfie-opportunities with Gosling.
The question of course is, Does all this campaigning really work? Is the Best Picture award really handed out to the movie that threw the best party? The answer is: “No of course not.” followed by a big ol’ asterix*.
Obviously, people want to vote for the movie, actor, director and so on they think is most deserving but deserving can mean a lot of things. Katherine Hepburn once said, “The right actors win Oscars, but for the wrong roles.” What she meant was that when you go to a party and you see an actor who really should have won an award by now you might, after chatting with him or her for a few minutes think, “You know what? I’m going to vote for him (her).” In other words, sometimes actors win awards they earned three years ago. The Academy just couldn’t give it to him at the time because they were giving that award to someone who earned it three years before that.
Then there’s the “cool” factor. I don’t get a vote for the Oscars. That’s all Rod. But if I did vote I’d have a hard time voting against either Stallone or Cranston. Fo one thing, both of them gave AMAZING performances (in Creed and Trumbo respectively). But it’s also true that now that I met them…well, I genuinely LIKE them. They’re just incredibly cool people. Same goes for Michael B. Jordan and Creed’s director Ryan Coogler. And Laura Dern was so much fun and Brie Larson was charming and…well, you see where I’m going with this, right? I’ve met Stallone at two parties now and he is just so intelligent and articulate and just a joy to hang out with. Plus I can totally see myself kicking it with Laura or Michael B. Granted, these people have undoubtedly already forgotten me. After all, these parties mean they’re meeting dozens of new people a day. Nonetheless if I they won I’d feel like I was watching a friend win. That’s cool. And when you saw Stallone accept his Golden Globe last Sunday night, when you saw all those people standing up to give him a standing ovation, you were seeing a room full of people (all of them with Oscar voting-rights) excited to see someone they love and admire take the prize. Trust me when I say they’d like to give him another one. He’s deserving in every sense.
On the flip side, if you’re an asshole, people don’t want to vote for you no matter how talented you are. Sometimes they will if you create a true tour de force that’s impossible to ignore. But short of that, don’t count on taking home anything shinier than the pennies in your pocket. The gold statues are going to the cool people.
But for me, all of this is academic. I leave the voting to Rod.
I’m just in it for the parties.