Monday, February 18

This year's Academy Awards would have been very different had the writers' strike continued through February 24th. Without A-List stars providing the excessive glamour and overdramatic acceptance speeches that have come to define the evening, it is rumored the show would have featured clips from old Hollywood movies punctuated by song and dance routines.

I would have preferred an Oscar telecast that reminded of us of past Hollywood glory, but unfortunately this year's Oscars promise more of the same.

On a bright note, three of the films nominated for Best Picture - No Country for Old Men, Juno, and There Will Be Blood - were directed by filmmakers who usually work outside the mainstream. The Cohen Brothers have made a career out of playing with genre. Films such as Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou, and The Big Lebowski are prime examples of this duo's unique style. No Country for Old Men is a Western that serves as a metaphor for declining values in American society.

The films of Paul Thomas Anderson feature extravagant camera work and bravura performances from actors. In his film, There Will Be Blood's Daniel Day Lewis gives an excellent performance as a greedy oil tycoon, and he is expected to take home the Oscar for Best Actor.

Juno's director Jason Reitman has demonstrated a talent for making offbeat comedies such as 2005's Thank You for Smoking. Juno, which was released by the Fox Searchlight, is the only Best Picture nominee to gross over $100 million at the box office.

South Floridians who want to celebrate the Academy Awards in style can attend one of two local Oscar Parties that promise cocktails and red carpet arrivals. Miami Beach's Hotel Victor and Ft. Lauderdale's Cinema Paradiso are both hosting Academy Award Parties this Sunday, February 24th.

Hotel Victor: 1144 Ocean Drive Miami Beach; (305) 428-1234

Hotel Victor will host the only Oscar night Party officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the seventh year in a row part of proceeds from the party will benefit the Miami Beach Cinematheque.

The evening begins at 6:30 pm with cocktails and red carpet arrivals, and the live telecast of the 80th annual Academy Awards begins at 8pm. WPLG news anchor and two-time Emmy Award winner Laurie Jennings will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets are $150 per person or $125 for MBC members. They include the same Oscar souvenir program given to VIP guests at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, tax, gratuity and a gift bag. The event will be catered by Gourmet Supper By-The-Bite and guests will have access to a selection of fine wines provided by Libation, The love of Wine, and a selection of Ultimate Martinis provided by Ketel One Vodka and Ketel One Citroen. A live auction will be conducted by Diva Extraordinaire and legendary South Beach drag queen Elaine Lancaster.

$20 valet parking and donning a black tie both fall under the evening’s optional category.

Cinema Paradiso in Ft. Lauderdale: 503 SE 6 Street, Ft. Lauderdale; 954-525-3456.

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is hosting its own Oscar Party at Cinema Paradiso. Guests are invited to walk the red carpet in their finest Hollywood attire or most comfortable Hollywood Beach-ware. The show will be projected onto the theater’s big screen.

The evening begins at 7pm with red carpet arrivals and a buffet, and the show begins at 8pm. Tickets are $15 for FLIFF members and $25 for the general public.