Reeling with Ryan Lattanzio

This Week: Rigging the Results

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I have hosted three Oscar ceremonies in my living room. Well, my parents' living room, anyway. It's no Kodak Theatre, but at least I saved on the venue cost.

From 2001 to 2003, I spent each of my spring breaks off middle school planning and hosting an amateur Academy Awards. This meant annually subjecting whatever family members were in town to three hours of a mostly one-man show where I forced them to celebrate movies they had never seen, heard of or cared about. Before the big night, which always made my precocious little self positively giddy, I drew up ballots for everyone in the house to vote for the movies I wanted them to vote for. For the most part, these nights of pathetic fan-boy spectacle had me running up and down the stairs, from the living room to the computer, playing sound bites of Thomas Newman scores. Together with the flaming "Moulin Rouge"-inspired cancan I choreographed for an opening number one year, that, folks, is as it gay as it gets.

My best Oscar night was in 2002, the year I infamously rigged the awards: When tallied up, everyone's votes made "A Beautiful Mind" the winner. I, still in my early years of snobbery, was not happy with the results and in a final stroke of genius decried Ron Howard's film and declared Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Amelie" the winner. I don't think my family suspected my last minute switcheroo then, but they know now if they're reading this. As you can tell, these memories just get more and more embarrassing with time.

What I'm trying to get at here is that the real Oscars is not so different from my fake one. There is always potential for an upset at, literally, the last minute. Nobody remembers the movie "Crash" but everyone remembers when it won over "Brokeback Mountain" in 2006 - a moment when, I swear, my eyes bled. The "Crash" incident, where a film no one thought could win actually did, is a perfect example of what might happen on Sunday. I've still officially pegged "The King's Speech" as this year's clean-sweeper but perhaps the Academy won't get brainwashed by groupthink and instead go for the more subversive choice, and once-thought front-runner, "The Social Network."

But I suspect this will not happen. On Sunday night, "The King's Speech" will be immortalized as another one of those dusty cinematic relics on the shelf of Movies We Forgot next to some of last decade's winners like "Slumdog Millionaire" or "Million Dollar Baby." "The Social Network," the stuttering king's biggest adversary, will be one of those movies we recognize, years down the line, as the one that should've won ("Citizen Kane," anyone?). Maybe it's better this way. Maybe not winning the Oscar is just dodging the requisite stigma of being a Best Picture winner. After all, the status of these movies - from "Shakespeare in Love" to "Crash" - will be eternally called into question by people like me. This is why I prefer to host my own Oscars, where not everyone is happy, but at least I am.

If I were to enact another one of my hokey adolescent fantasies this year - say, stage an Academy Awards - things would be different: I am 21 now so, of course, there would be the drinking games. To numb the pain of Oscar night's torturous slow boil, from the bad jokes to the bad hair to the bad movies, everyone would drink each time James Franco or Anne Hathaway is onscreen (so, that is, almost constantly). But instead, I'll be sitting alone in front of the TV, cursing and asking myself, "How did I ever get into this mess?"


Do a little Oscars cancan with Ryan at [email protected]



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