This Is What Goes On Inside One Of The Biggest #Oscars Parties In…

Actually watching the Academy Awards at a huge Hollywood viewing party is easier said than done.

Inside the party. Not pictured: me. Jamie Mccarthy / Getty

An Oscars viewing party is only as good as the people you’re watching with. Do they know when to be snarky and when to keep silent? (Julianne Moore is speaking. That means you are not.) Do they get appropriately emotional at the right moments? (When David Oyelowo cries, you cry too.) Have they seen most of the nominated films, or are they at least willing to withhold judgment based on a single clip? (I sat through The Judge, and I have earned your respect.)

Which is to say, a lot can go wrong. After all, there’s a reason I’ve taken to hosting a viewing party for one where the only mandatory attire is sweats and the only distraction is my own tweeting. Nevertheless, this year, I ventured out into the world outside my apartment for a chance to check out Elton John’s annual Oscars viewing party, a fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and an excuse to rent a decent tux.

First things first, the Elton John AIDS Foundation does amazing work, having raised more than $45 million, according to a publicist. That’s not really surprising given the fact that the viewing party is punctuated by stars like Alec Baldwin and Sharon Osbourne asking attendees to dig a little deeper into their pockets. Guests’ pledges are also projected onto a large screen, which adds incentive to make a big donation. (I know exactly how much you gave, Chris Colfer, and I’m proud of you.)

I acknowledge the great cause, because regardless of my personal experience at the Elton John viewing party, I’m glad that it happens every year. But since you asked, my personal experience was actually rather uncomfortable. When I first arrived, I milled about trying to go against my better judgment and make conversation with strangers. I did engage Lisa Rinna for a few seconds before realizing I had nothing particularly interesting to say, aside from complimenting her dress. And I managed to sneak a peek at Aaron Paul’s ballot, but only after I’d turned mine in.

Eventually, we were escorted into the dining room where the dinner and viewing party would take place. And that’s when things took a turn. I quickly realized my table was chatty. Listen, I am not an antisocial monster. I think it’s nice when the people around me want to know my name and what I do for a living and where I got my tux. (Men’s Wearhouse, thank you very much.) But this is the Oscars. This is the one night of the year I actually care about watching TV live and sharing my opinions with the internet, because I’m a millennial. The people at my table were more interested in loudly talking about how they hadn’t seen the vast majority of nominated films. Ida is streaming on Netflix, people! Come on.

A table inside the party. (Not my table. If I were sitting with Gigi Hadid, don’t you think I would have mentioned that?) Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

I tried to focus on the show, but it was increasingly difficult to hear. (With each drink, the woman next to me was becoming drunker and drunker and louder and louder, which might have had something to do with that.) I took note of the fact that Gillian Anderson and JC Chasez were sitting at a table together, and I desperately looked for reasons to join them. Can you imagine how well-timed and expertly delivered Gillian Anderson’s barbs are? I can just see JC Chasez throwing his head back with laughter.

I continued to live-tweet the drunken exploits of my neighbor and tried to mentally will Sir Elton John to turn up the audio so I could actually hear the broadcast. Things reached their nadir at my table when John Legend and Common performed “Glory” — which was, to be clear, the highlight of the Academy Awards themselves — as another woman at the table rolled her eyes, accused people of fake crying, and loudly lamented the public conversation about racism in Hollywood that Selma‘s snubs had inspired.

I wish I could say I handled this all better than I did. I asked her what her issue was with “Glory,” and she claimed she didn’t have one, just that it had to win the Oscar for Best Original Song because people were so angry about the film not getting other nominations. And when it did win, she kept repeating “no surprises here,” before muttering something to her friend about having to give the blacks something. “I’m not going to sit here with a racist,” I said to no one in particular, before getting up and walking away. (I am a man of honor, but one who is also terrified of confrontation.) I never returned to my table, watching the rest of the broadcast from the cocktail area. My biggest regret is that I didn’t actually try to engage with that woman over her racism, and my second biggest regret is that I left the table before dessert was served.

That uncomfortableness at my table was luck of the draw: I happened to be at a viewing party with the wrong people. (And to be clear, not everyone at my table was terrible! But as with any family gathering, the drunkest and the most racist attendees always get the most attention.)

Once the show was over, I quickly discovered that the Elton John Oscars viewing party is a lot more fun once the actual viewing portion ends. As is the case with any Hollywood party, I spent most of my time walking around, silently acknowledging the presence of various actors (it was basically a shit ton of TV people, who are often considered to be less important than movie stars; but I happen to watch more TV than movies, so nyah), and wondering how long the valet line would be (it ended up being not so bad. I stood next to Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller, who is always a hoot, bless her heart).

Ultimately, I feel very lucky that I was able to experience a glamorous Hollywood night, but I was also comforted by the fact that my sweats were waiting for me at home.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/what-its-like-inside-elton-johns-annual-oscars-viewing-party

Our 9 Favorite Feature Stories This Week: Dirty Cops, Michael Brown Sr., And A Whole Lot Of Elvis

This week for BuzzFeed News, Elise Jordan goes back to her hometown Mississippi to visit the world’s most notorious Elvis shrine. Read that and these other great stories from BuzzFeed and around the web.

1. The Last Days Of Graceland Too — BuzzFeed News

Photograph by Tim Soter

Paul MacLeod’s Graceland Too — a house-turned-shrine to the King of Rock ‘n Roll — ushered in decades of tourism to the small town of Holly Springs, MS and made its eccentric owner a local celebrity. But when MacLeod shot his handyman dead at the property and died himself two days later, Graceland Too came to symbolize more than an innocuous hobby. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

2. America’s Dirtiest Cops: Cash, Cocaine and Corruption on the Texas BorderRolling Stone

Illustration by John Ritter, Image of Alexis Espinoza in illustration by Gabe Hernandez/”The Monitor” / AP Images

An unbelievable romp of a story by Josh Eells on the rise and downfall of the Panama Unit, an elite anti-narcotics border task force — led by the son of a sheriff — that took bribes from some drug dealers and used police resources to rob others. “They were running around like that movie Training Day.” Read it at Rolling Stone.

3. Michael Brown Sr. and the Agony of the Black Father in AmericaEsquire

Photograph by Barrett Emke for Esquire

John H. Richardson spends a heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Thanksgiving with the Brown family, as Mike Brown, Sr. reflects on his son, goes to church, and grapples with his new life in the public eye. “At one point, he lowers his head and hides his face under his hat brim. When he lifts his head again, his face looks exhausted and stoic and agonized, like a man determined not to cry out under torture.” Read it at Esquire.

4. Construction Work is Getting More Deadly, but Only for Latinos — BuzzFeed News

Staten Island Advance / SILive / Via silive.com

While construction work has gotten safer for every other group over the past decade, the deaths of Latino workers has been on the rise. David Noriega reports on the startling trend. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

5. The Town Without Wi-FiWashingtonian

Photograph by Joshua Cogan for Washingtonian

Green Bank, West Virginia is a town where residents are banned from using technology most of us can’t imagine living without: wi-fi, cell phones, Bluetooth. It’s become a haven for people who believe their medical problems stem from electromagnetism but, as Michael J. Gaynor explores, not all the locals are happy about it. Read it at Washingtonian.

6. Chris Harrison: The Reigning King of #BachelorNationGQ

PHotograph by Art Streiber for GQ

Taffy Brodesser-Akner hangs out with Chris Harrison, the charming host of The Bachelor, as he navigates having recently become a bachelor himself. “It is hard to believe that a man whose job is to be a human seismometer of romantic chemistry can be so oblivious, but maybe it’s the sort of thing where the cobbler’s children have no shoes, or doctors can’t operate on themselves.” Read it at GQ.

7. The Rise of the Black British Actor in America — BuzzFeed News

Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures

Lacking opportunities in the UK, many black British actors, such as Selma’s David Oleyowo, have recently found success in the states, writes Kelley Carter. “There’s a black British Actor Renaissance of sorts occurring, largely because black Brits aren’t finding the type of work in the United Kingdom that allows them to explore the depth they’re seeking from their roles.” Read it at BuzzFeed News.

8. Food Fight: Dallas Chefs Take on the Morning NewsD Magazine

Photograph by Kevin Marple for D Magazine

Zac Crain dives into the embittered battle that has been publicly stewing for the past year between a top Dallas food critic and the city’s best chefs. “It was like watching Frankenstein and seeing the townspeople head up to the professor’s operating room with pitchforks and torches.” Read it at D Magazine.

9. The Talking CureThe New Yorker

Illustration by Leo Espinosa for the New Yorker

Margaret Talbot visits Providence, Rhode Island, where the mayor has secured millions for an innovative program aimed at closing the “word gap,” the disparity in words learned by poorer children compared to their wealthier counterparts. The program is just one complex example of national efforts to tackle educational reform. Read it at The New Yorker.

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Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/anitabadejo/our-9-favorite-feature-stories-this-week-dirty-cops-michael