Two Things, Two Places, All at Once

Glitz and glamour. Politics and power. Winners and losers. Millions of people tune in to watch the spectacle that appears on our television screens once a year: The Academy Awards.

As with almost everything else these days, the entertainments we each choose to watch have become more and more disparate. Also, movie stars rarely awe us in the same way they used to do. What was once a common annual viewing ritual seems to have lost its place as a shared social and cultural experience.

Back in my Hollywood days, I walked the red carpet. After leaving my acting career behind, I began work at AFI (The American Film Institute), where I learned what good movies are made of. So last Sunday, as always, I watched the Oscars, even though I hadn’t seen any of the nominated films.

A popular game begins immediately afterward, when the critics—amateurs and professionals alike—have their say about the bests and worsts of the broadcast. Most vocal among them are the grumblers who debate the worthiness of the winners. Coming in a close second are those who critique the female attendees’ fashion choices, which put me in mind of the dress I once wore to the Oscars.

The morning after the broadcast, I dug deep into storage to search for it, and also for the printed program from that night, both of which I thought I had stored together. Found the dress, and a couple of old Polaroids of me wearing it, but I didn’t find the program. I don’t remember the exact year it was, or who the nominees and winners were. (I’m sure selective memory is at fault here. Those years were not among my favorites.)

But here’s the dress: a flowered silk jacquard overlaid with gold thread in a Paisely pattern. Still looks new, though I no longer weigh the ninety-eight pounds required to fit into it.

I am late to the party in seeing this year’s nominated films, but I do want to see them, hopefully in a movie theater, the way the are meant to be seen. Though the trailer for the big winner, Everything Everywhere All at Once, looks somewhat headache-inducing, I’m willing to brave it anyway, because I’ve heard that it portrays life in multiple universes, a subject that intrigues me.

Which brings me back to the dress I wore on the red carpet, long ago. When I peer into the photos of me in it, I feel lightyears and multiple universes removed from the person who wore it. Still, I want to find that missing Oscars program, if only to confirm how far I’ve time-traveled beyond those show biz days.

When did you last watch the Oscars? Did you see any of the winning films and performances this year?

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the upcoming Body in the News!




15 replies
  1. Mary Lee
    Mary Lee says:

    What a great post, Gay! And a beautiful dress! I used to always watch and then haven’t for years, but I did tune in this year. I enjoy seeing what everyone is wearing and thought there were some winners this year. Though, like you, I’m late to the party in seeing the films this time, I do intend to see them. The stories told and the creativity employed in telling them is fascinating and I’m encouraged by the new stories this year rather than so many remakes. Thanks for sharing your experience and the lovely dress. Good luck with the program search!

  2. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Thanks, Mary Lee. After Covid eased up, I wanted to get back to seeing movies in a real theater, but there are fewer locations and times to catch the ones I’m looking for. Streaming has really impacted the distribution business. It may be okay to see some lightweight movies, but it short changes fans of quality filmmaking.

  3. Lois Winston
    Lois Winston says:

    I watched, mostly to listen to Jimmy Kimmel and watch the musical numbers. If truth be told, I recorded it so I could fast-forward through the commercials and the acceptance speeches, but it went on so long that I eventually caught up and had to sit through the last hour in its entirety.

    I’ve seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever but none of the others so far. I want to see The Fablemans but will wait until it’s streaming on one of the services I get. I gave up on movie theaters years ago, even before Covid. Some of the rudest, most inconsiderate people I’ve come across are at movie theaters. The refuse to turn off their cell phones and talk constantly. I get that at home from my husband, but at least at home I can hit the pause button (on the TV, not on him.) 😉

  4. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Sad to hear about your moviegoing experience, Lois. We rarely had that experience when we were regular moviegoers. We always try to go to an early show during the week in hopes of avoiding crowds, but I’m not sure that’s possible anymore with fewer venues to choose from.

  5. Debra H Goldstein
    Debra H Goldstein says:

    Learn something new about you in every blog. The dress looked lovely on you. Like Mary Lee, I hadn’t watched but snippets over the past few years, but I watched the entire program this time. It was nice to see an element of the Oscars I grew up with come back, but it still wasn’t quite the same. Part of the reason is that I usually have seen the movies and have a vested interest in the winners, but this year, I hadn’t seen any of the films. Hope to make up for that soon – even if streaming.

    • Gay Yellen
      Gay Yellen says:

      Took me a long time to find my jam, so to speak, Debra, hence the varied background of my youth. Theater was my first love, but my path took me to LaLa Land, and while I found work there, I did not thrive. At long last, after my first exposure to a local writing conference, I came home and announced to my husband, “I found my people!”

  6. Barb Eikmeier
    Barb Eikmeier says:

    Gay you look gorgeous in your “ red carpet” dress! I didn’t watch the Oscars this year (or for many years) but do enjoy going to the theater. Our little hometown theater sold to a franchise and now every seat is a comfy recliner with tons of space all around. I love to go there! A few years ago we were seated behind a group of young women for the non-animated remake of Beauty and the Beast. These women would have been little girls when the Disney animated version came out. We got such a kick out of how much fun they were having!! I enjoyed your post!

  7. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    Gay, I loved the post and loved your dress! As far as actually watching the Oscars, I don’t think I’ve ever done it. Before I moved to the US, my former father-in-law owned a “western street” in central Mexico, where John Wayne, Ann-Margret, and many other American actors did films. I got to know the actors and film crews and somehow the charm and aura of actors went out the window for me. However, I do check out the nominated films so I can watch them! The one on the multiple universes is one I will definitely watch!

  8. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    The dress is stunning, and you look so sophisticated in the photos! My movie theater-going has been seriously dampened by Covid, but I agree that watching them on the big screen, the way they were meant to be seen, is optimal. I watched the last part of this year’s AA ceremony, despite not having seen any of the movies. But now I want to!

  9. Lynn McPherson
    Lynn McPherson says:

    What a gorgeous photo! I love movies, I love seeing them in the theatre, and I love the Oscars. I didn’t see the whole thing this year but enjoyed it as always.

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