- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

"Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
Bette Davis,
All About Eve (1950)

Get out that six-pack of Yoo-Hoo, grab the popcorn and plant yourself in front of the boob tube for four-plus hours Sunday night: The 72nd annual Academy Awards ceremony rears its ugly head starting at 7:30.
"Won't be in L.A. to attend in person?" asks a press release from the DC Film Society. "That's OK. Celebrate the festivities right here."
Accepting the local award for Oscar venue, in place of the Los Angeles Shrine, is the Bethesda Theatre Cafe. (Applause.) Local film fanatics will dress up and gather for the Capital Oscars Academy Awards Millennium Celebration, the cafe's eighth annual Oscars party. (There's that "m" word again.)
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
Clark Gable,


Gone With the Wind (1939)
When the golden Oscars were first handed out in 1927, with best picture going to the aerial weeper "Wings," the ceremony was more a curiosity than a semiprivate dinner party. ("There were no surprises, because the awards had been announced three months before," the first best actress, Janet Gaynor, told writer Bob Thomas.) The show since has ballooned into an epic event on the level of a coronation or movie premiere:
Folks are waiting in line eight days in advance just to sit in the bleachers outside the Los Angeles Shrine to watch the incoming parade of stars.
Nominees, such as the late George C. Scott and Marlon Brando, have garnered more headlines when they haven't accepted awards.
The theft and subsequent return of 55 Oscar statues this year became major news.
Yes, the bald little metallic man, "with no genitalia and holding a sword," as Dustin Hoffman so eloquently put it when accepting his first for "Kramer vs. Kramer," has mesmerized Hollywood and beyond with each advancing year.
"It's the stuff dreams are made of."
Humphrey Bogart,
Maltese Falcon (1942)


So the question remains: Will host Billy Crystal be funnier than Whoopi Goldberg was last year? Will he cozy up to Jack Nicholson from the stage? How bad will the choreography be this year? Whose turn is it to defy the upturned Hollywood elite noses and jump for joy a la Roberto Benigni? Last year, the actor-director with the Coke-bottle glasses bounced along the top of chairs to get his prize for "Life Is Beautiful."
"Are you talkin' to me?"
Robert De Niro,
Taxi Driver (1979)


Private Oscar functions will take place at the Omni Shoreham and the St. Regis hotels.
The Omni Shoreham will raise money for the Metropolitan Washington Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and celebrate Oscar at the same time. Its Oscar party begins at 6:30 p.m.
The St. Regis will decorate five rooms for each of the films nominated for best picture: "American Beauty," "The Cider House Rules," "The Green Mile," "The Insider" and "The Sixth Sense."
The Bethesda Theatre Cafe event will be public and casual, though one of its organizers, Cheryl Dixon, says the glamour of the affair brings out the black dresses and tuxedos.
"Originally it was started by the Filmfest DC staff," Ms. Dixon says. "We were responding to funding cutbacks from the [National Endowment for the Arts] and we were also trying to think of a way to prolong the film festival by a couple of weeks. We enjoy each other's company, and we're big film fans, and this is a great way to raise money for the festival."
Over the years, the society has grown from 200 to 700 members. (Last year's party was celebrated at a small Italian restaurant, making the Benigni award all the more electrifying.)
This year's event includes the Oscar show (on three big screens), a silent auction, door prizes and free movie promotional items.
The Oscar party is the precursor to Filmfest DC, the society's international film festival, now in its 14th year, which will be held in mid-April. Annual membership is $45, which includes sneak previews and other events throughout the year.
WHAT: Capital Oscars Academy Awards Millennium Celebration
WHERE: 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
RUNNING TIME: Undetermined
TICKETS: $20 ($15 for Film Society members)
PHONE: 202/554-3263
WEB SITE: www.geocities.com/dcfilmsociety

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