How you can get in on the Oscars (no acting required)

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How you can get in on the Oscars (no acting required)

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by tommyj

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Outside the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard it’s just after 5 p.m. Sunday. The 86th annual Academy Awards are starting up inside, the red carpet is empty but for a few no-name stragglers and all the media crews breaking down their gear after a two-hour parade of the most famous faces on the planet.

And you aren’t there. Because you, unlike all the movie stars and producers, and a scattering of sound editors, cinematographers, and – lowest of low on the movie-making food chain – writers, are a simple film fan. Oh sure, you may be the biggest of movie buffs. You might have seen all nine best- picture nominees. Perhaps you’ve even seen all the nominated shorts, too.

But you still weren’t invited to Hollywood’s biggest soiree.

Yet even if you’re not one of the 4,000 or so with one of the toughest tickets in town, there’s no reason you can’t bask in a little bit of Oscar’s golden glow this weekend.

Sure, you’ll have to watch stars such as Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto on a screen somewhere, your living room, a friend’s Oscar party, a sketchy TV in an East Hollywood dive bar if that’s your thing. But in these last few days leading up to the Big Show you’ve also got options.

Getting close to Oscar is easier than you might think. Allow us to show you a few ways.


Film songs and scores your thing? For the first time ever the Academy is holding a concert at which the composers of the five nominees for best original score will conduct an 80-piece orchestra in excerpts of their music. The nominees include William Butler and Owen Pallett for "Her," Alexandre Desplat for "Philomena," Thomas Newman for "Saving Mr. Banks," Steven Price for "Gravity," and John Williams for "The Book Thief."

The concert at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus will also include performances of the nominees for best original song, though apparently not by the artists who sing them in the films and in many cases will perform them on the Oscar telecast. Film critic Elvis Mitchell will interview the composers on stage between numbers, too.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27

Where: Royce Hall on the UCLA campus

How much: $75-$100

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The Academy’s official Oscar week events also include a variety of film programs, though at press time most of these look to be sold out, leaving you with the long-odds option of trying to scrounge an unused ticket at the door or planning well in advance to snag a seat when these events come around again next year.


On Friday, the nominees for best animated feature will show clips from their films and talk about how they made their movies. On Saturday, in two separate events, the directors of the best foreign language film nominees will talk about their movies and show clips, and later the nominees in the makeup and hairstyling category will do the same.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday for the animated film panel, 10 a.m. Saturday for the foreign films, 2 p.m. Saturday for the makeup and hairstyling panel.

Where: Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

How much: $5 for the animation night, free for the Saturday events.

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The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood also hosts screenings during Oscar season of nominees from some of the harder-to-find categories on the Oscar ballot.

On Friday you can catch both the live-action shorts and the animated shorts and thereby have a leg up in your Oscar pool picks. Because really, do you know anything about the Finnish live-action short “Do I Have To Take Care of Everything?” No, you don’t, so don’t even pretend. On Saturday, the documentary shorts nominees will be screened twice.

When: On Friday: 7:30 p.m. for the live-action shorts, 9:30 p.m. for the animated nominees. On Saturday: 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. for the documentary shorts.

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

How much: $11 or $7 for members.

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The American Cinematheque is also offering a pair of free pre-Oscar seminars on Saturday with two groups of nominees whose work makes what you see on screen so effective. Invisible Art, Visible Artists features the nominees for best editing, a group that includes “American Hustle,” “Gravity,” 12 Years A Slave,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” and “Captain Phillips,” in conversation about their work on those films. Oscar-Nominated Art Directors delivers what it promises on the tin, a seminar with the art directors and set decorators on “American Hustle,” “Great Gatsby” and “12 Years a Slave.”

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday for the editing panel, 3 p.m. Saturday for the art directors.

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

How much: Free, so you better get there early. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for the editing panel.

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This place is infested with famous faces come Oscar season, so with any reasonable effort you can probably find some celebrity to admire. Take yourself out to lunch or drinks at any of the famous Beverly Hills hotels and who knows who you might bump into. Or go straight to the source: Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue, outside the Dolby Theatre, on Sunday afternoon.

Now, you’re not going to get up close and personal here. We’re talking glimpses, mostly, and the fame formula – the more famous the person, the less of them you’ll see – is in full force here. But should you decide to dare the bad traffic, even worse parking, and the crowds behind barricades on the boulevard, who knows, you might just spy some stars as they exit their limos and head for the red carpet.

When: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 2.

Where: Hollywood Boulevard between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive.

How much: Free.


Documentary films are woefully under-distributed, which means you’ve probably not seen many, if any, of the feature documentaries nominated this year. The International Documentary Association will fix that for you on Saturday, with a day-long marathon of all the documentary nominees, both features and shorts, at the Writer’s Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills. (And by the way: Not that there’s an substitute for seeing a film on the big screen, but four of the five feature documentary nominees are already streaming on Netflix, so you can have your own little marathon at home if that’s your thang.)

When: 9 a.m. to roughly midnight, Saturday.

Where: Writer’s Guild of America Theater, 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills.

How much: $13 per movie or $65 for an all-day pass.

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The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising – FIDM, as it’s typically called – recently opened its 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit. What you get are costumes from a variety of movies released in 2013 as well as costumes from “Anna Karenina,” the Oscar winner for costume design a year ago.

FIDM is located in downtown Los Angeles, but a few miles away at the Hollywood Museum another new exhibit opened last week. Focused on awards season in general, but the Oscars in particular, it includes props, costumes and other mementos from popular movie and TV shows. Among the Oscar-nominated films that are included in the show are “Captain Phillips,” “Nebraska,” and “Her.”

When: The FIDM exhibit is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 26. The Hollywood Museum show is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through April 30.

Where: FIDM is located at 919 South Grand Ave., Suite 250, Los Angeles. The Hollywood Museum is at 1660 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles.

How much: The FIDM exhibit is free. Tickets to the Hollywood Museum are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $5 for kids 5 and under.

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Let’s say you’re a procrastinator and you just never got around to watching any of the nine best picture nominees. All is not lost! The AMC Orange 30 theater is hosting AMC’s annual Best Picture marathon on Saturday, showing all nine movies from “American Hustle to “The Wolf of Wall Street” one after another for the quite reasonable price of $60. Combined running time of the nominees? 18 hours and 53 minutes.

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: AMC Orange 30, 20 City Boulevard West, Orange.

How much: $60.

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Contact the writer: 714-796-7787 or

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