HOLLYWOOD (sort of) — As excitement over the much-anticipated glitz and glamour of this Sunday’s Academy Awards builds throughout Hollywood, Oscar winners for Technical Achievement were the first to bask in the spotlight during an equally prestigious awards ceremony held last night at a lavishly decorated Blockbuster Video warehouse in Culver City. The evening began with nominees arriving in style aboard rented school bus shuttles adorned with banners reading “On To
State The Oscars!” Like a major Hollywood premier, beams of light criss-crossed the night sky as unemployed SAG members waved flashlights to keep shuttles out of the KFC parking lot across the street.
“These members of the Academy deserve to be recognized for their achievements,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said during a phone interview. “And just because we don’t know what they do exactly, or who they are, doesn’t mean their night should be any less special. Or held during the actual Oscars ceremony.”
Upon arrival, nominees stepped from their shuttles and onto the red carpet, where camera flashes erupted amid a frenzy of selfies. One overzealous autograph seeker had to be led away as he frantically waved a piece of paper, screaming, “Whose paying for these busses!”
Pre-awards show festivities included an opportunity to mingle and enjoy handcrafted hors d’oeuvres, which included slices of exotic meats, an array of vegetables and accoutrements, sauces such as Sweet Onion Teriyaki or Spicy Chipotle, and a choice of six-inch or foot-long breads available in Parmesan Oregano, 9-Grain Honey Oat or Herb and Cheese. The selection of libations was just as impressive, with a choice of 15 flavors of Shasta Cola served to nominees in personalized red Solo cups. Those with a sweet tooth were beckoned to a dessert table piled high with gluten-free brownies and individually wrapped packages of sliced apples.
Upon seeing the spectacle, Outstanding Looper nominee Bill Schlependorf had this to say:
Eventually, after a lengthy 15 minutes of mingling and excited chatter, it was time for the awards presentation to begin as nominees were directed to rows of luxuriously padded folding chairs with built-in cup holders. Taking center stage was emcee and funny-man David Hasselhoff, who had just returned from hosting the Intoxicated Karaoke Awards in Tijuana, Mexico. Hasselhoff wasted no time in setting the comedic tone.
“Except for the time I pitched an idea to host my own music special at NBC, I’ve never seen this many people anxiously picking their seats!” joked Hasselhoff.
The quip drew an immediate smattering of applause and well-timed chuckles, underscored by several coughs, as the evening’s first award, Best On-Location Caterer, was handed out to “Lights! Camera! Bentos!” for its culinary work on location in the Laos jungles for the film Alien vs Predator 5: The Final Beginning.
The evening continued with awards for Outstanding Achievement in Focus Pulling, Best Best Boy, Boom Operator of the Year, Best Dailies Editing and Outstanding Clacker-Thing Performance.
In a touching tribute memorializing past Technical Achievement winners who the Academy lost in 2013, musical guest David Hasselhoff sang “That’s Hollywood” as a large, blank square was projected onto a king-sized bed sheet suspended from the ceiling.
“We felt that a blank square dramatically symbolized the importance of Technical Achievement in films,” Isaacs said of the memorial. “Plus, we couldn’t find any photos of these people.”
Finally, it was time for the evening’s climactic — and most prestigious — Oscar for Technical Achievement:
Best Third-Unit Director In a Supporting Role.
“And the Oscar goes to…” announced Hasselhoff, bringing the warehouse to silence as he retrieved the winning envelope from his Baywatch fanny pack.
Unfortunately, like most awards shows, this one ran long. But in this case it meant immediately vacating in order to catch the shuttles hired to return awards show attendees to their vehicles parked at Culver City Middle School — hopefully before the gates locked. During the exciting exit, Oscar gift bags were tossed to nominees as they boarded shuttles. Gifts included a Motel 6 grooming kit, a Subway Sandwich punch card with at least two pre-existing punches, a partially-filled 1-liter bottle of Shasta soda, a VHS copy of Titanic, Beyonce’s latest CD, and a random pair of disposable 3D glasses.
“This awards ceremony has become the highlight of my year,” said one nominee who went home without the coveted golden statue. “I should’ve stuck with installing toilets and watching the Oscars at home.”