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The red carpet awaits

Get ready for your close-up Oscar Sunday

Celebrate the Academy Awards with The Grand’s annual Film Awards Party at Theatre on the Square Feb. 28. Photo credit: The Grand Cinema/Facebook

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The first Academy Awards were presented May 16, 1929, in the ballroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Nowadays, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences claims its televised ceremony attracts a billion viewers. That's nonsense, of course; a study by The Hollywood Reporter found worldwide viewership was probably fewer than 70 million. But talk about humble beginnings: Chances are the 1929 Oscars felt more like a lean-year office Christmas party. In 1929, the star of the show may have been the filet of sole sautéed in butter. The first Academy Award winner, actor Emil Jannings, wasn't even there to receive it. He'd already gone home to Germany, statuette in hand, as all the winners had already been notified. In 1970, actor George C. Scott opined, "The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade." Only two?

U.S. viewership last year was under 30 million, which is part of the reason we still get 10 nominees for best picture. It increases the chance a popular smash like Black Panther will get nominated -- which it did, the first superhero movie to do so. This new practice echoes the 1929 Oscars. Movie-trivia buffs know the first best-picture winner was Wings, but that's only half the story. The Academy that year awarded an additional prize for "Best Unique and Artistic Picture" to an F. W. Murnau romance called Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. For this year's 91st-annual ceremony, however, the likeliest winner is a film most admirers never saw in a theater: Roma, a Spanish-language, Alfonso Cuarón drama that debuted on Netflix. Cuarón is projected to take home the award for best director.

The field for this year's other top awards is open wider. Oddsmakers favor Mahershala Ali, Glenn Close, Regina King and Rami Malek for acting awards, BlacKkKlansman and The Favourite for writing awards and RBG for best documentary, albeit by slim margins. We're telling you this because two area events invite attendees to deploy their knowledge of Oscar trivia to win cash and coveted prizes. The Grand Cinema hosts its event at Theatre on the Square, while Olympia Film Society rolls out the red carpet for its simulcast in the Capitol Theater. Both venues invite guests to dress for the paparazzi. Go formal or cosplay as your favorite cinematic character; either way, make sure you're ready for your close-up, because you might just appear on the silver screen. The OFS event even allows guests to pose with an honest-to-Garbo Oscar statuette. The Grand presents one clever attendee, specifically the guest who predicts the highest number of Oscar winners, with a "Golden Ticket" good for free admission to any Grand screening till the 92nd Oscar awards are presented.

This year, the Film Awards Party will be hosted by four local leaders. Former Grand Cinema Board President and Wilson High School's Principal, Bernadette Ray; educator Jordan Villalpando; filmmaker and comic Jamika Scott; and Katy Evans, assistant executive director of The Grand Cinema join forces as this year's emcees to help bring entertainment and insight during breaks in the ceremony. Both events offer plenty to eat and drink, plus giveaways at almost every commercial break. Both red carpets open at 4 p.m., an hour before the Hollywood ceremony begins. Meanwhile, over on Proctor, the Blue Mouse Theatre will be wrapping its sixth-annual Destiny City Film Festival with a closing-night party at Peaks and Pints. All three events will be packed, so ticket buyers are not advised to be fashionably late.

THE GRAND CINEMA'S FILM AWARDS PARTY, 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, Theatre on the Square, 915 Broadway, Tacoma, $15-$90, 253.593.4474

OLYMPIA FILM SOCIETY'S OSCAR PARTY, 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, Capitol Theater, 206 5th Ave. SE, Olympia, $7-$10, 360.754.6670

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