Say what you will about the Oscars telecast, but like the Super Bowl, it brings people together. Oscar-watching parties are making something of a comeback; I was invited to four New York City-area shindigs. Since I was in Boston on Sunday night, I accepted an invitation to watch the Academy Awards with some Watertown roommate friends of mine, Will and Charlie. They’re both film buffs.
Every year, they host a two-day get-together called the “[Bleep] the Oscars” film festival. It consists of a scheduled list of movies they feel should have been nominated. The screenings are accompanied by food, booze, and great conversation. This year’s screenings included “Nope,” “Decision to Leave,” “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” and “Playground.”
On both days, Will prepared food while he and Charlie made drinks for their guests. The movies continued until the Oscars ceremony started. During the telecast, the winners and losers were discussed, debated, and occasionally mocked.
Charlie also participated in an annual Oscars pool, keeping track of the outcome in a group chat. He has won several years in a row, and the other participants couldn’t wait to take him down in 2023.
I showed up for the second day of the festival. I was offered a super martini that, in terms of liquor, had “everything everywhere all at once.” Will made a delicious dinner of waffles, spicy sausage gravy, and Nashville hot chicken with a choice of two homemade hot sauces called “pain” and “death.” (I chose to taste death.)
Whenever “All Quiet on the Western Front” won one of its four Oscars — for international feature, cinematography, original score, and production design — we commiserated about how bad the movie is. (One becomes numb to the carnage of the German war drama, as I said in my predictions piece last week.) When “The Whale” won for makeup, we were stunned by the image of Brendan Fraser projected on the screen as the winners gave their speeches. And when the incredible “Naatu Naatu” musical number ended, we were stunned into silence. The Telugu-language tune from “RRR” became the first song from an Indian movie to win in the best original song category.
Resident dogs Bunk and Troy made their presence known either by barking their approval or snuggling on the couches with us.
As the show progressed, there were multiple conversations going on in person, on group chats, and on Zoom. Charlie also kept checking his poll ballots, accruing win after win. He eventually wound up in second place.
Speaking of gambling on the Oscars: “Make sure you tell the readers I went 20 for 23,” my friend Danny texted me at the end of the Oscars telecast. Yet again, I had been bested in our annual Oscars prediction contest. I went 16 for 23 this year, betting with my head when my heart turned out to be a more accurate prognosticator.
“I’m going to tell them you CHEATED!” I texted Danny back. “FAKE NEWS!” he replied.
Sour grapes aside, I was never happier to be wrong about something than I was about my best actress prediction. My heart was telling me Michelle Yeoh for “EEAAO,” but I predicted Blanchett for “TÁR”; Yeoh prevailed, making her the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for best actress. When we saw presenter Halle Berry — who in 2002 was the first-ever woman of color to win a best actress Oscar — we knew Yeoh had that award (in much the same way we knew that “The Whale”'s best makeup win foreshadowed the outcome of Fraser’s best actor win).
Though there was some dissent among guests championing other movies, everyone was rooting for Yeoh. Her film ended the evening with seven Oscar statues, including wins for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for best director, Jamie Lee Curtis for best supporting actress, and Ke Huy Quan for supporting actor.
Quan’s win made for one of the two great acceptance speeches of the night. The other was by Springfield native Ruth E. Carter, whose work on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” earned her an historic second Oscar for best costume design. Carter paid tribute to her 101-year old mother, who recently died.
Text messages came in from another Oscar party in New York City, one I would have attended had I been home. Our mutual NYC friends sent regards and humorous commentary. One comment dealt with the very uncomfortable use of a QR code after the “In Memoriam” segment; it basically said, “for a list of people not important enough for us to mention, scan here!”
Much shade was thrown at the congratulatory 100th anniversary commercials from Disney and Warner Bros. Even more shade was thrown at the in-show commercial for “The Little Mermaid” and its way-too-dark-cinematography. Host Jimmy Kimmel was completely ignored by us all.
By the time “Everywhere Everything All at Once” won best picture, as expected, we were all giddy from great food, strong drinks (I only had one, I swear!), and each other’s company. Our evening went much better than the folks who made “The Fabelmans,” “TÁR,” and “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Those movies had far less to celebrate than we did — they went home empty-handed.
Odie Henderson is the Boston Globe's film critic.