Catching Up with the Oscars: Seeing Current Nominees and Old Classics To Set the Mood by Kevin M. Thomas

"Birdman"

“Birdman”

The Academy Awards are the topic of many a conversation – whether it’s at a party, the water cooler or at the movie concession stand.

Now is the time to cram for Oscar contests by catching up on this year’s nominees and getting in the mood by watching some old classic winners (and losers) on the big screen.

Your Oscar party cheat-sheet should include that you see all the Best Picture nominees. This would take the shortest amount of time and give you insight to many categories. Fortunately, all of the nominees are currently playing at theatres. The one older nominee, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” was re-released after the nominations,  but it is also available on video-on-demand.

If you really feel you need to study hard and fast, you could go to an AMC or Cinemark theatre as they are showing a marathon of all the Best Picture nominees in a two day period. And, at a special, discounted price. Check out www.amctheatres.com and www.cinemark.com for full details.

Short films don’t get the same attention as feature length nominees. Yet, there are three categories for short films: Animated, Live Action and Documentary. Surprisingly, sometimes short films have big talent. One of the films features Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and a nominee last year (for “Blue Jasmine”) Sally Hawkins.

So where do you find these films? Fortunately Landmark Theatres screens them all – by category – and will play for the next few weeks. Find the showtimes and theatre closest to you at www.landmarktheatres.com. A couple of the documentaries, “Finding Vivian Maier”, and “Virunga” are streaming on Netflix currently.

The Oscars usually puts me in the mood to watch some old winners and losers and a lot of theatres celebrate that spirit with screenings of some previous favorites -and usually for a fraction of the cost.

In the Bay Area, if you want to catch some of the ignored,  but classic Hitchcock films, the Stanford Theatre will be screening his films until March. Check out the schedule at www.stanfordtheatre.org.

Hedda Lettace

Hedda Lettace

 You can also catch some previous Oscar winners and losers at Cinemark including “All About Eve,” “Funny Girl,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Giant.” Go to www.cinemark.com.

Los Angeles, or Tinseltown, really has rolled out the red carpet with classic screenings. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be screening so many winners – “West Side Story,” “The Godfather II,” “Bonnie & Clyde”, “The Departed,” “Annie Hall,” “The Wizard of Oz” and the lesser known “Barry Lyndon.” They also have some that weren’t big winners including “Boogie Nights,” “Seven Samurai” and “Taxi Driver.” They have tons of others, go to www.lacma.org for all the details.

LA’s Arclight Cinema has a great Oscar program entitled “The Road to Gold,” in which they are showing a ton of Oscar winners and nominees. No decade or genre is not represented. Pick your favorite: “Gone With the Wind,” “Argo,” “The French Connection,” “Gravity,” “The English Patient,” “Rocky” and “It Happened One Night.” Winners from other categories are also well represented with “A Fish Called Wanda,” “Life is Beautiful”  and “Lost in Translation.”  This is an endless list of cinematic delights and can be reviewed at https://www.arclightcinemas.com/en/news/arclight-presents-road-to-gold?promo=spotlightM2

New Yorkers can get their fill of past winners at the Chelsea Bow Tie Cinema every Thursday. This Chelsea Classic night comes complete with a host – the drag legend Hedda Lettuce. This on-going series is saluting the Oscars in February with screeningss of “Titanic,” “All About Eve,” “It Happened One Night” and “From Here to Eternity.”  Get all the info at http://www.bowtiecinemas.com/special-programs/?program=chelsea-classics&location=8538