Ask the Expert: Hosting an Oscar Party

23 Feb
Ask the Expert is a series where I interview friends and others who are experts in a particular party concept.

For this edition, I interviewed Phil Haas, an Oscar fête-throwing man about town who graciously offered his advice on themed foods, Oscar pools, and the greatest Oscar injustices of all time.

Don't forget to pick up a red carpet!

Everybody’s Invited!: Do you remember your first Oscar party?

Phil Haas: When I was in the 7th grade, I was struck with chicken pox the week of the Oscars.  It was really horrible, but I survived on oatmeal baths and daytime television.  At the time, there was a show on ABC  called “Mike and Maty” and they had a great episode on about creating dishes inspired by the nominees for Best Picture.  So, I told my Mom all about it and we bought the ingredients to make a wonderful meal.  It was absolutely delicious and I remember the menu to this day: Little mini-pizza appetizers for Il Postino, a garden salad for Babe, shepherd’s pie for Braveheart and an English berry trifle for dessert for Sense and Sensibility. For Apollo 13, we drank Tang.

EI!: What would you say are the most important ingredients for a successful Oscar Viewing Party?

PH: Themed food is key.  Create dishes based on the nominated films.  You can either pick food that was featured in the films (i.e. a celebratory cake with pink roses that says “Congratulations, Nina!” from Black Swan) or you can go for food inspired by the locales of the nominated films (i.e. New England Clam Chowder for The Fighter). You may also want some fun movie-themed decorations: popcorn buckets, black and gold tablecloths, even rolls of old camera film scattered about tables.  It all lends a little bit of spectacle to the occasion.

EI!: You’re known for your creative dish competition with the Best Picture nominees. How does that work? Are you worried about overeating given the large number of nominees this year?

PH: I actually found a way to counter this. Everyone’s name goes into a bowl. Then there are two other bowls.  One with the Best Picture nominees and the other with slips that say either “Appetizer” or “Dessert.”  This way we’ll end up with five wonderful tasty snacks and five scrumptious desserts.  I can set out a salad or pasta dish in case there isn’t enough snacky stuff and no one will leave hungry.

EI: What’s the best dish anyone’s ever brought to one of your parties?

PH: The best dish anyone brought was when someone made a delicious white coconut cake and put a red hand-print face on it so that it looked like “Wilson” from Cast Away. It was delicious and beyond creative!

EI!: How many categories would you recommend including in an Oscar pool? Do you stop at acting, writing and directing, or do you go all out – Best Sound Editing and Best Art Direction, etc?

PH: Oscar pools should use all the categories.  Sometimes the person who picks Best Art Direction and Best Documentary Short can win it all.  I love when someone wins the pool who manages to still get all of the major categories wrong.

EI!: If someone wants to supplement their Oscar viewing with live commentary from a blogger or entertainment journalist – who, in your opinion, provides the best snark?

PH: I’m not one for a lot of snark, but I’ve found that Tom O’Neil and the folks on the Gold Derby blog for the LA Times has pretty extensive coverage.  Also, if you want some total trash, you can’t go wrong with CNN’s choice of hiring Beverly Hills-trainwreck Camille Grammer for their red carpet commentary.

EI!: I have to admit, I feel kind of icky after watching the Oscars. So much self-congratulation and unabashed displays of wealth. Do you have any recommendations for how to unwind after Oscar night?

PH: The best way to unwind after Oscar night is by watching a favorite movie.  Who cares if it’s not an Oscar-winning classic?  And who cares if you fall asleep 15 minutes into it?  If the Oscars is about celebrating movies, the best way to do that is to watch one that you love.

EI!: Finally, what do you think is the biggest Oscar injustice of all time?

PH: There are several that stand out in my mind. One is when Matt Damon wasn’t nominated for Best Actor for The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Granted, it’s my favorite movie, but a lot of critics and film buffs agree it’s his finest performance.  Others are: Sigourney Weaver being snubbed for The Ice Storm; Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me) losing to Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich); when The Color Purple lost all 11 awards it was nominated for in 1986; and when Singin’ in the Rain lost the Best Picture Oscar in ’52 to The Greatest Show on Earth.  There are actually some pretty terrible snubs this year, too: Ben Affleck for Best Director and The Town for Best Picture, the stunning Lesley Manville in Another Year, Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine and Julianne Moore for The Kids are All Right.

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3 Responses to “Ask the Expert: Hosting an Oscar Party”

  1. Joanna February 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Last year I made a dessert for The Hurt Locker… a “dirt pudding” with red Pull n’ Peel Twizzlers hidden under the surface. (Thanks a lot for not mentioning that brilliant entry!)

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  1. Third Blogiversary! « Everybody’s Invited! - November 30, 2011

    […] Phil Haas, Oscar Party Expert […]

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