Academy Awards 2009

Moviegoers Are Cramming to Watch All the Oscar-nominated Films Before the Awards Show

Washington Post Digital's Jen Chaney talks with moviegoers at the Landmark Theatre in Bethesda, Md., about their plans to see this year's Oscar-nominated films in time for Sunday's Academy Awards.
By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday night. You and your trough of popcorn are at Gallery Place's Regal Cinemas for the 10:25 showing of "Frost/Nixon," with just 15 other stalwarts.

Most of the other filmgoers at Gallery Place are seeing "He's Just Not That Into You" or "Friday the 13th." These filmgoers are weak. They do not realize that the Oscars are in a matter of days and that true preparation requires commitment.

Because if you do not see "Frost/Nixon" now, then you'll have to see the 3:55 tomorrow, which is gonna screw up the matinee of "Waltz With Bashir," which will make getting to "Doubt" pretty dicey, and if "The Visitor" didn't come from Netflix, then you can forget about returning it in time to get "Frozen River," and then . . . then you will be toast.

The final exam is Sunday, people! Fifty nominated films, 24 categories, and only four full weekends between the nominations and the ceremony to see them. That's two fewer than there used to be in the old days, back when the Oscars were held in March. Ignore the numb tingles in your butt and focus!

"You've got to do 'Wrestler' for acting," Kelly Mills tells Adria Crutchfield at the "Frost" showing. Fellow Oscar traversers, they just met in line and are now trading strategies on maximizing the few remaining viewing days.

"Did you see 'Slumdog' yet?" asks Crutchfield, an aide on the Hill. It's her Best Picture pick.

Mills, who works in PR, and her friend Brock McCleary had been doing really well, at least with the Best Picture and acting categories. They saw "The Wrestler." They saw "Milk." They saw "Rachel Getting Married." Then, disaster in the form of weakness: "Last weekend, the weather was so nice," Mills explains. "We used that as an excuse."

What were they thinking?

Now they must spend Valentine's eve watching Frank Langella's sweaty lip.

The movie is "really romantic, I hear," she jokes. Er, maybe not. It is, however, really nominated -- five Academy nods, ranging from Best Picture to Best Adapted Screenplay. Seeing this film means major progress. Crossing off five nominations for the price of one.

" 'Crash' ruined 'Slumdog's' chances," McCleary says, joining the conversation. It's the same "trendy filmmaking. People have buyer's remorse about 'Crash' " -- the ensemble film that beat out heavily favored "Brokeback Mountain" to win Best Picture in 2006.

Why do we do this?

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company