Dara: Neither TJ nor I were cool/connected enough to get invited to this past weekend’s Emmys, but watching the ceremony at home reminded us of TJ’s adventures at the Oscars last February! And since we didn’t write a post about it then, we figure now’s as good a time as ever.
TJ: Though Dara’s the one whose boss was actually nominated for an Academy Award last year, I’m the one who ended up at the ceremony simply because my former boss didn’t want to go!
Dara: So yea, while I watched from a fun watch party with my colleagues, TJ was lucky enough be be in the room and sending me live text updates from the Dolby. Therefore, for obvious reasons, this post will be mostly TJ…
TJ: The only reason I was lucky enough to get a ticket last year was because when the head of our company (a nominee) was going to just give away some extra tickets he had to the event, my awesome coworker very graciously suggested that he should give us staff the tickets. So when my boss didn’t want it, it trickled down to me!
Without extremely high-level connections it’s very hard (read: impossible) to get award show tickets. And connections or not, it’s incredibly expensive. I had to organize getting tickets for our company and even though we were nominated for Best Picture, we weren’t guaranteed our tickets for non-nominee individuals until the week before. Not to mention the $150 – $750 price tag per ticket. So TJ was very, very, very lucky to snag a free ticket.
For those that are invited, the first thing you need to know is that the event is black tie, so it’s likely that you’ll need to rent a tux (or a dress) like I did.
Dressing up is a huge part of the fun! I didn’t go crazy, I just went to Men’s Warehouse, but some people go nuts and buy/rent thousands of dollars worth of formal wear. We also had a black car rented for us, which was lots of fun. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to drive yourself to the event, but if it is, no one does.
Fun fact that we learned from our driver: all of the limousine drivers park in the Hollywood Bowl parking lot during the Oscars, where they hang out, watch the event, and eat dinner together.
As we approached Hollywood, driving north on Highland, one of the first things I noticed was the amount of security. Our black car had to zig zag through huge concrete bomb barriers to even get to the security checkpoint, where multiple police officers checked each car very thoroughly. After about half an hour of security line, our car got through to the main checkpoint, at Highland and Hollywood Blvd near the Kodak Theater. This is where the red carpet comes into play. You check in with your ticket, and get a very very nice program. They really spared no expense.
What you don’t see on TV is that that red carpet is actually divided in 3 parts. There’s a spacious A-list red carpet, which is what gets filmed for TV, where A-list stars and nominees mingle, interview, and pose for photos. Then there’s a B-list line, where other stars that don’t want to get interviewed, or don’t need to, zoom through. And finally, there’s the C-list line, for normal people like us. Luckily they’re not divided by much – only red velvet ropes – so we got a great view of the celebrities red carpet.
Note: the real celebrities show up very late. We got there early and saw some cool people, like Ruth Negga and Taraji P Henson, but a lot of the huge huge stars did not show up until later.
The security guards try to usher the C-list line through as quick as possible, but despite their efforts, it’s definitely possible to linger and take photos. However, the better photo ops happen right after the red carpet – where all 3 lines merge as you enter the hallway of the Kodak Theater. In this hallway, with a grand staircase, there are multiple large Oscar statues to take photos in front of, and there’s privacy from the media, so stars are more likely to take photos with you.
I’d recommend staying there as long as possible, since, as soon as you go up to the floor you’re on (you’re not going to be on the ground floor unless you’re nominated or you’re Oprah) you’re locked on that floor, they won’t let you go back down. Luckily, every single floor has an open bar and snacks. I repeat, EVERY FLOOR OF THE KODAK THEATER HAS AN OPEN BAR. It was heaven. Champagne flowed freely (which probably explains why everyone is laughing so hard at all of the jokes).
Our seats were at the very very top, the 3rd Mezzanine, so eventually we headed up there and got our first of many drinks. The show itself was a bit of a blur, but it was very fun to watch and entertaining. It’s hours long though so I did walk out to grab a drink during a few of the less interesting awards.
A fun bit of last year’s show was Jimmy Kimmel having PA’s drop food into the theater throughout the show – popcorn, cookies, candy and more. Since we were so high up, we were level with the PA’s on the theater rail dropping food from parachutes, so us plebeians on the 3rd Mezzanine just had stuff handed to us us from PAs.
But, as I hope you all already know, the most shocking event of the evening was the crazy best picture mixup. Being there for it felt like witnessing a once in a lifetime event. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch below before I spoil it:
For those of us watching at home, it was clear as to what happened the second Jordan held up the actual winning card that said “Moonlight”.
But we couldn’t see that closeup from the audience, so it was hard to understand what had happened, and the theater was in complete chaos.
It felt like the show had gone to commercial break and people were just jumping on stage. The reality didn’t sink in until Barry Jenkins actually started giving his speech (around the 4 minute mark in the video). The audience reeled.
The internet (and the world) reeled just as much. My watch-party was literally on their feet watching the TV, and my Facebook page went crazy since I had wrote an impassioned essay-of-a-status rooting for Moonlight earlier that day. I even made the above screenshot my cover photo and got over 100 likes/reactions/comments in less than 20 minutes.
After that chaos subsided, most Oscar-goers went off to various after parties, where the real fun happens. We were very lucky and had invites to the Lionsgate/LA LA LAND after-party at the Soho House, but unfortunately, the festivities were a bit muted due to the best picture mixup. But, the drinks were incredible, the people were fun, the food was great (I got so hungry, there was no dinner at the Oscars!), and I loved my time there.
Overall, it was a pretty awesome day. hard to replicate, but definitely a fun story to tell!
COST REPORT: $-$$$$
Oscar Ticket: $0-750*
Suit/Dress Rental: ~$500