And the best pitcher is…

Our annual Oscar party was this weekend, and we pulled out all the shots… I mean, stops!

Champagne, chocolate, a mega-ballot on the wall, and fifteen friends from all parts of our lives made the evening a huge success that even Leo can look at with good memories.

And this year, we took the best picture puns to the next level, constructing our presentations out of cardboard and glue guns and so much nerdiness. We even predicted the shocking best picture!

What was your favorite part of the show (or the menu)?

Feminism at the movies

I love the Oscars – their glitz, glamour, and short moment in history honoring the movies of the past year.  As always, we’re having our annual Oscar party tonight (with recipes to follow).

In the lead up to this year’s Academy Awards, my office’s chatter has drifted away from recipe puns and toward something with much bigger consequences: the Bechdel test.

From Feminist Frequency, “The Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.  It originated from Allison Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985.”

There are just three requirements for a film to pass:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

Looking at that list of requirements, you’d think that this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish.  Women with names, talking to each other about something other than a man.  Flip it around to be about men and it would describe nearly every blockbuster of the last 50 years.  And yet, some great movies fail.  How do yours stack up?

But let’s let bygones be bygones – surely in 2014, studios are doing better at realizing that women are people – fabulous, talented, multi-dimensional people – right?

Kind of.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture tonight, here’s how they stack up:

  • “Gravity” — FAIL (though we can give it a little bit of a pass, since there are so few characters to begin with)
  • “Captain Phillips” — FAIL
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” — FAIL
  •  “12 Years a Slave” — FAIL
  • “Her” — FAIL
  • “American Hustle” — PASS
  • “Philomena” — PASS
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” — PASS
  • “Nebraska” — PASS

Beyond the awards, we’re starting to see a shift – a review of the highest grossing films of 2013 showed that the biggest blockbusters cleared the bar.  Yet the majority of films still fall extremely short.

As movie lovers, let’s support films – and the individuals that make them up – who are committed to showing women as people and not just decoration.  Here’s hoping that by the next Academy Awards, we’ll have made more progress to celebrate together.

Additional reading:


Night (and plate) of stars

Long, long ago, in a living room far, far away, I lost miserably on my Oscar ballot.  But I like to think I still won the night with my Oscar-themed menu, with one item from each Best Picture nominated film.  Check below the photos for the specifics on each recipe.

  • Hershey kisses for Amour 
  • 70s-tastic and undercover-disguise ready peanut butter chocolate mustaches for Argo, with some “escape to Canada” Canadian Dry on the side
  • Life of (Pumpkin) Pi(e) dip
  • Southern corn muffins and red pepper jam from Beasts of the Southern Wild (our store didn’t have the ingredients to make hushpuppies!)
  • Southern Comfort in honor of Lincoln (with cranberry and a splash of gingerale = best drink ever)
  • Pigs in a blanket, perfect for eating in front of a football game a la Silver Linings Playbook (note: I never even got to eat one of these despite delivering them in two waves = major party pleaser!)
  • … served with smokey BBQ sauce for Django Unchained
  • A loaf of French bread and baked brie, courtesy of Valjean in Les Mis
  • (Coke) Zero Dark Thirty

Overall, it was a great bash and it taught me that you can never put out the red carpet too early, there’s no such thing as too many little hot dogs… and we need a bigger living room.

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Argo mustaches – made with simple chocolate molds from Michael’s – super fun and a good team activity to try to get everything perfect before it sets!

Pumpkin Pie Dip – based off of this recipe, and I made the pumpkin pie seasoning from scratch!

Corn Muffins – made from store mix, with NH-made red pepper jam (I loooove this stuff)

Pigs in a blanket in the classic style – just get some mini hot dogs, subdivide some Pillsbury crescent roll dough, and cook until the dough is lightly browned.  One thing of dough and one of hot dogs is enough to make two batches to feed a hungry bunch (minus me, since they were all gone by the time I sat down!)

Baked Brie inspired by Les Mis based on my crowd-pleasing recipe from last year.

Special thanks to my sous chef Sara, my partner in crime, Katie, my coworkers who helped me come up with menu items, and everyone else who came to celebrate and talk over Seth Macfarlane’s offensive commentary with us!

The hosts of the evening, on our red carpet

The hosts of the evening, on our red carpet (which we MIGHT have left out for an extra week or so…)

And the Oscar goes to…

If inanimate objects could win Academy Awards, I would have given last night’s award to the baked Brie, because it was the star of the show.

But I don’t think we’ve sunk to that level yet, so I have to admit that Nikki won the Oscar ballot contest with 11 categories right.

I loved our party – with this great a group of friends, we could be doing our taxes together and we would still have fun.  (At least until I realize I’m the only one who owes money this year…)  We broke up the night with some creative cocktails and a round of Catchphrase that allowed us to record the show and fast-forward through the commercials later.

Which was good, because this was NOT my favorite Academy Awards show.  My favorite part of the show last year was the presentation of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees.  In case you missed it, they had significant people from their careers on lit pedestals on stage, saying amazing things about each nominee.  Even before the awards were handed out, people were crying.  Nope, no time for that this year.  Instead, we had a mash-up of auto-tuned movies which was funny, but not touching, and a tribute to times past… that was too short and poorly executed.  I thought last year’s awards were funny, crisp, classy, and well executed, but now I feel like we’ve taken a step back.

My favorite part of the show was Melissa Leo taking home Best Supporting Actress, and losing her words on stage.  In the middle of her speech, she exclaimed “last year, Kate Winslet made it look so f-ing easy…!”  If John Stewart was there again, he would say “and THAT is how you win an Oscar.”

The ending of the awards was the only redeeming part, in terms of what was actually planned.  But more on that later…

Do you think the right people won?  Did you enjoy the show?  Or at least the baked Brie?

Glitz, Glam, Golden birds

The roommate and I are having our second annual Academy Awards party tonight.  When we were first looking to move to Boston together, we planned to celebrate our new lives with having people over for this show, but then had to wait eight months for satisfaction.  Now, we’re in our second apartment and the tradition continues.  We’ve even finished hanging up our curtains for the occasion!

And to help us celebrate tonight, we have this hideous lovely golden bird:

We designated this as our Oscar trophy last year.  I guessed the winners most accurately in 2010, so I’m adding my name to the bird before tonight’s ceremonies.  Whoever has the best record tonight will also get a chance to sign the bird, and we’ll see how things measure up over the years.

Want to compete from home?  Send in your guesses for at least ten categories in the comment section – the person with the highest percentage  right will get an honorable mention on our trophy.  See the nominees here.

For the record, I’m putting most of my money on “The King’s Speech” – that movie was a-a-a-mazing.  What do you think will take home the gold tonight?