Film by film, set-design ideas for your Oscar party

Posted: February 24, 2012

POP CULTURE nerds often equate the Academy Awards with the Super Bowl. It's their big night, with each person pulling for his or her favorite movie to take home the Gold Bald Dude. While Super Bowl parties often reflect the team we're rooting for, Academy Awards parties are more-neutral affairs. But that needs to change. Why not announce your favorite movie boldly, with film-specific parties? We'll set you up with what to eat, how to dress and what to give the victor of your to-the-teeth Oscar pool.


1. "The Artist" and "Hugo": In "The Artist," a leading man of silent film (Jean Dujardin) is worried he'll be replaced in the new talkie era. In "Hugo," an orphan finds solace in movie magic and reignites the passion of one of film's earliest auteurs.

Eat and drink: These movies use vastly different techniques to tell their story, but they're the same movie at heart, exalting the escapism of movies. So stock up on movie snacks: popcorn, soda, Raisinets.

Decorate: "Hugo" revels in the films of Georges Melies, who set his films in fantastical places, including outer space. Create an alien land for your guests to party in.

Wear: Like you need another excuse to wear 1920s flapper gear? Try Pierre's Costumes (211 N. 3rd St., 215-925-7121, pierrescostumes.com) for everything from fringe dresses ($44.95) to a long cigarette holder ($1.95), with faux cigarettes ($7.95), of course.

Give: Last month, French electronic duo Air released a new soundtrack for "Le Voyage Dans La Lune," the Melies' film (and inspiration for the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight" video) that serves as pivotal work in "Hugo." Pick up the package, that comes with a DVD of the film, at Repo Records (538 South St., 215-627-3775, reporecords.com) for $21.


2. "The Descendants": A man (best actor nominee George Clooney) must broker a land deal for his large family, just as his wife slips into a coma.

Eat and drink: The luau theme is a cheap way to get through this one. Your guests will expect too- sweet cocktails with little umbrellas and pineapple-flavored foods, but also make some Spam musubi (Spam on top of a block of sticky sushi rice wrapped in Japanese nori) or get a whole pig from Cannuli's Meats (937-39 S. 9th St., 215-922-2988, cannulismeats. com), ranging from $205 to $420, to make your party truly memorable.

Decorate: Break out the tiki torches.

Wear: Beach-themed clothes will do, but we loved Shailene Woodley's spot-on performance as Clooney's angst-ridden teen daughter, Alexandra. Ask guests to choose an outfit that best represents their disaffected youth. Count how many turn up in flannel.

Give: The DVD of another Hawaiian-set Oscar winner: "From Here to Eternity" ($11.99 from Amazon.com).


3. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close": A precocious 9-year-old (Thomas Horn) searches New York City after his father dies on Sept. 11, 2001.

Eat and drink: Nathan's Famous Beef Franks, Dr. Brown's soda, and cheesecake and black-and-white cookies from Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen (700 S. 4th St., 215-922-3274, famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com).

Wear: Black.

Decorate: NY Transit maps make great table covers. Give: A donation to the 9/11 Memorial (911memorial.org) or to the Jon Stewart-supported Fealgood Foundation (fealgoodfoundation.com).


4. "The Help": A young white woman (Emma Stone) seeks to tell the story of the African-American domestics in Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s.

Eat and drink: One of our favorite lines in "The Help" is when Minny (best-supporting-actress favorite Octavia Spencer) tells Celia Foote (co-nominee Jessica Chastain) that "Fried chicken just tend to make you feel better about life." We agree. Hit up Delilah's (Reading Terminal Market, 1136 Arch St., 215-574-0929, and at 30th Street Station, 2955 Market St., 215-243-2440). Get sides, too.

Decorate: Bridge parties are pivotal in the movie, so set up card tables, complete with a card deck, so people can play during commercials, boring speeches or a dreaded musical number.

Wear: Anything early-'60s-inspired. Take a trip to Sazz Vintage (60 N. 3rd St., 215-923-7299), although real fashionistas know to dig through the piles at the Sazz warehouse store (2438 Coral St., Saturdays and Mondays, noon to 6 p.m.)

Give: Give a copy of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and the DVD of its film adaptation starring the great Cicely Tyson, who has a small part as Constantine in "The Help."


5. "Midnight in Paris": A man (Owen Wilson) is transported into the Paris of yore as the clock strikes 12.

Eat and drink: Baguettes (fancy ones from Parc on Rittenhouse Square), cheese (Brie! Camembert!) and lots of red wine - French, of course. Offer absinthe, if you dare.

Decorate: Dim and twinkling lights should set the mood. Set alarm for midnight. Look outside for mysterious car.

Wear: Jeans are fine, a plain T-shirt wouldn't be wrong, but please, ditch the sneaks. (They're so not Parisian.)

Give: Any vehicle that doubles as a time machine.


6. "Moneyball": Billy Beane (best actor nominee Brad Pitt) turns around the struggling Oakland Athletics with the help of sabermetrics, a complex statistics system.

Eat and drink: Peanuts, Cracker Jack, hot dogs, cheap beer. Be like Beane, who rarely does a snack-free scene.

Decorate: Pennant, banners, foam fingers, a garland of baseball caps (Use string and clothespins.)

Wear: Break out the Phillies gear a little early this year. Try for vintage Phillies, when they were scrappy like the Oakland A's.

Give: A pair of Phillies tickets.


7. "Tree of Life": A philosophical rumination of the meaning of life told through the story of boy coming of age in 1950s Texas.

Eat and drink: Barbecue from Phoebe's (2214 South St., 215-546-4811, phoebesbbq.com) or Percy Street (900 South St., 215-625-8510) should do the trick, but any meal that can set the scene for a familial dispute should do.

Decorate: Leaves? Plants? Trees? If you're really ambitious, midcentury modern furniture from Mode Moderne, 159 N. 3rd St.

Wear: Somber style, plain khakis, white T-shirts, staid dresses, black blazers.

Give: Those little glow-in-the-dark stickers that look like planets.


8. "War Horse": A young man enlists to fight in World War I to join his beloved horse that was conscripted into the cavalry.

Eat and drink: Wartime rations are no fun at all. But you could put out some raw carrots and sugar cubes, in case some equines decide to attend.

Decorate: Equestrian chic: horseshoes, equine figurines, oil paintings...velvet horse paintings.

Wear: Army surplus from the basement of I. Goldberg (1300 Chestnut St., 215-925-9393, igoco.com).

Give: The original movie about a boy who loved his horse, "The Black Stallion."

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