Oscar’s golden boys

Abby Fisher

Film enthusiasts look forward to the awards recognizing the movie industry’s best

For film enthusiasts such as Jeff Schooley, March 5 is the day they have been waiting for all year. It’s Oscar night, the evening that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards a variety of films, actors and filmmakers in 24 categories.

Schooley, a graduate student studying English literature, has been watching the award ceremony since his freshman year in college. He blames his roommate for getting him hooked.

“I was a big jock in high school,” Schooley said. “My roommate gave me an appreciation for film, and I’ve been watching the Oscars ever since then.”

Now, Schooley picks his favorite nominees to win every year.

“I would like to see Capote get any awards,” he said. “Especially Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener for their work.”

Schooley, who hosts a weekly radio show on Black Squirrel Radio, dedicated his Feb. 19 broadcast to the Academy Awards.

“We spoke a lot about the politics involved with the Oscars,” Schooley said. “When you look at the Best Picture category, four of the five films are political.”

Films nominated in the Best Picture category this year are: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck and Munich.

“Politics plays with the voters,” Schooley said. “You can look at what kind of films get made in a given year.”

Paul Petrovic, an English graduate student who was a guest on Schooley’s radio program, agrees.

“The Academy Awards are very liberal,” he said.

Petrovic said he believes most of this year’s awards will be split between Brokeback Mountain and Crash.

“Hollywood creates film based on what society should start accepting,” Petrovic said.

With films such as Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica being nominated in the Best Picture and Best Actress categories, respectively, the notion of pushing the envelope is realized.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the most emotional films this year – and it tells a good story,” Petrovic said. “We’ve moved beyond racism in film, and now we’re looking at gay rights.”

Brokeback Mountain is the film adaptation of E. Annie Proulx’s short story about two gay men in Wyoming. Classified as a “forbidden love” by Dallas film critic Philip Wuntch, the film has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

“Ang Lee has done some really good work this year,” Petrovic said. “Everyone else seems to just be a newbie.”

One category to watch this year is the documentaries, Schooley said.

“In a way, documentaries are becoming the new journalism,” he said. “It’s interesting to watch this genre develop because people are paying to see them and they’re generating dollars.”

March of the Penguins, a French documentary that crossed international lines, grossed more than $77 million in the United States and is nominated in the Documentary Feature category. Other nominees in the category include Darwin’s Nightmare, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Murderball and Street Fight.

Picking winners isn’t the only thing that these film aficionados do each year. This will be the fourth year that Petrovic plans and hosts his own Oscar party.

“Usually we get about 10 to 12 people to come,” he said. “It’s always fun to just be petty for an evening: Talk about the clothes, who thanks their publicist and the kind of self-congratulatory talks that come with winning an award.”

Petrovic said it is more enjoyable when his guests have some kind of awareness of the films that are nominated.

Both Petrovic and Schooley offer some advice for students who may be planning their own Oscar party.

“Last year, we bought two large sheet pizzas from Guy’s Pizza in Kent and that seemed to be enough to fill everyone,” Petrovic said.

“Also, cocktail wieners are a must – and make sure you get streamers, too,” Schooley said, laughing.

Hosting the awards for the first time this year is Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show.”

“Jon Stewart is a great pick for a host,” Schooley said. “This is an attempt by the Academy to draw in younger viewers.”

Schooley continued saying both Jon Stewart and Chris Rock, the host from last year’s Academy Awards, have the ability to make films culturally relevant to a younger audience.

“It’s amazing, the guy’s pushing 50, and he just connects with young people,” Schooley said.

Petrovic said future hosts might include Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Dave Chappelle.

“Chappelle is very good with cultural commentary,” Petrovic said. “But ultimately, I would love to see the ‘South Park’ guys hosting one year – they make fun of films all the time on the show; it would be hilarious.”

The “78th Annual Academy Awards” will air at 8 p.m. this Sunday on ABC. Red carpet and pre-show coverage will begin at noon on E! and 7 p.m. on ABC.

Contact features correspondent Abby Fisher at [email protected].