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Film Awards Party

The Grand Cinema once again screens the Oscars and celebrates stories

The Oscars come this Sunday. Will La La Land take it all? Photo credit: The Grand Cinema

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As we approach this Sunday's Academy Awards, it's valuable to look past the pageantry and consider the story that the Oscars tell about the lives we've lived for the past year. Regardless of the value that you place on the ceremony, the Oscars have a funny way of taking a collection of stories and creating one of their own.

A few years ago, the story the Oscars were telling was about old money vs. new money, with the voters siding with the old as they awarded The King's Speech over The Social Network. Before that, it was a formerly married couple going heads up with two very different takes on war, as Avatar and The Hurt Locker vied for Best Picture. Last year saw the grounded, socially conscious Spotlight upsetting the flashy, notoriously difficult-to-film The Revenant.

This year's story isn't so clear, but it's continuing to emerge. In the Best Picture category, the Academy is recognizing intimately human movies - movies that weren't overtly political in an alarmingly political year. Even the showiest movies - Arrival, about Earth's response to aliens suddenly showing up, and La La Land, a moon-eyed ode to Old Hollywood musicals - are rooted in tactile emotions. This is a year of genre subversion, with Hell or High Water's crime story finding inspiration in little moments of connection. Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea eschew bathos and melodrama in service of closely studying characters.

It's unclear how these stories will play out, but The Grand Cinema is offering you a chance to watch them unfold, as they screen the 89th annual Academy Awards at Theater on the Square. Seeing the Oscars with The Grand Cinema has become something of a tradition over the past few years, and they do it up right, with contests for best costume (related to 2016 films, naturally) and guessing the award-winners, as well as great catered refreshments from local businesses, including En Rama, the newest iteration of Hilltop Kitchen.

"I always love seeing people get dressed up and go all out," said Darcy Nelson, director of marketing and communications for The Grand Cinema. "We had a lot of people participate in our costume contest, last year - very creative people - and I'm looking forward to seeing what our audience will come up with, as far as costumes, and seeing how they interpret the nominated films."

In lieu of a costume, attendees are encouraged to wear formal attire - all the better for getting your picture taken on the red carpet - but it seems likely that La La Land, Moana, and Jackie will get a lot of play in the costume contest.

"The nominations are very robust, this year," said Nelson. "Best Picture is my favorite category, but this year I'm really looking forward to Best Original Score. When I first saw Jackie, I remember thinking that that score was really striking, to me. I was hoping it would be nominated, and I'm happy that it was."

Tickets are selling fast, with VIP seats already gone, so be sure to pick one up and come see the Oscars in your finest duds.

The Grand Cinema's Annual Film Awards Party, 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26, $20-$25, Theater on the Square, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.593.4474,

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