Monday, February 23, 2009

AMC Best Picture Showcase: Notes from the dark side

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 12:28 AM

click to enlarge The bar at the Fork & Screen
  • The bar at the Fork & Screen

I wasn't sure I was cut out for spending a Saturday watching all five best picture nominees back-to-back in a Buckhead dinner theater. This was the kind of activity for reserved for trekkies or Star Wars and Lord  of the Rings fanatics. But work demands sacrifices, and since I'm in charge of CL's Oscar live-blog tonight, I figured I owed it to y'all to have seen more than Pineapple Express and Slumdog Millionaire. As it turns out, I'm pretty good at sitting, watching and eating for hours on end. Allison Keene, aka the Televangelist, who came along too, ain't too bad either. The AMC Buckhead Fork & Screen proved a decent venue, if a bit cold and noisy. But once I got my coffee and we figured out how to adjust our seats, things went fairly smoothly. When I sat down today to do my recap, Allsion had already turned one out. So rather than tell you the same things twice, I'll leave you with Allison's tales of German indiscretions, fanny fatigue, and four out of five recommendations (with which I concur)...:

In the chilly early morning outside the Buckhead Fork & Screen I chatted with a family who were attending their third annual AMC Best Picture Movie Showcase, an all-day event featuring a continuous marathon of Oscar -ominated films for which I (mistakenly) thought I was geared up to handle by packing a mere water bottle and protein bar. According to my acquaintances, last year the event at an AMC theater in Gwinnett featured a red carpet, Oscar gowns and a big to-do. I can't speak for other theaters this year, but the Fork and Screen was without any kind of extra glitz or glamour, and most participants trickled in from the cold to find a venue wholly unready for their arrivals. Still, the funky decor and old-school feeling the Fork & Screen gives was fresh and inviting, even though the busing of tables and the whole never dimming-the-lights-fully-in-the-theaters-themselves thing tends to add a distracting atmosphere. Despite a rocky start (a faulty movie reel changed up the order of the films), once settled I could almost imagine staying until the last credit of the final film. Almost.

Of the five nominees, I'd only seen one (Slumdog Millionaire), slated to play fourth. I figured at that point I would reevaluate how flat my fanny was before moving on. The showcase started strong out of the gate with the The Reader (slow, beautiful, saturated with color and deep, silent emotions), followed by a noisy lunchtime showing of Milk (powerful, engaging, James Franco ... enough said), and Benjamin Button (languid, shot in mellow sepia tones but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi), which all won my award for making my morning and afternoon excessively emotional.

I was fully optimistic that I could at least stay for the opening of Slumdog (for those cutetastic kids), before I realized that, like a shark swimming in the murky depths, half of my brain appeared to be shutting down as my left eye clouded over from what I assume to have been occipital lobe strain. Therefore, I apologize to Frost/Nixon for my personal snub, but I promise to Netflix you just as soon as you are available (and you will end up sitting on my queue for six months just like Michael Clayton ... but it's an honor just to be nominated, right?).

Likelihood I'll consider attending the event again in the future? High. For those who hadn't yet seen most or any of the films, it's an exhaustive (and exhausting) catch-up. You can't find more bang for your buck anywhere else, and I have to admit that despite some of the distractions of the Fork & Screen, I don't know how I would have survived without the constant availability of sustenance aside from endless popcorn. Advice for next time: Consider doing some early morning calisthenics beforehand. As far as predictions for Sunday night go, I'm going to have to side with All of Humanity and assume Slumdog will get the nod, which I think it deserves. The film that caught me by complete surprise though was The Reader. Kate Winslet will win Best Actress (this is her Pacino in Scent of a Woman year, after all), so do yourself a favor and see the film to know why.

(Photo by Allison Keene)

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