Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus were joined by Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday to discuss where to watch the Oscars, what last-minute movies to see and more.

Feb 23, 2012

Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus were joined by Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday to discuss where to watch the Oscars, what last-minute movies to see and more.

It's a lovely Thursday, and we're happy you're spending it with us. We're joined today by Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, who will be taking your questions about all things Oscars.

And we've got a heck of a giveaway: This Saturday, Eden's monthly '90s dance party  features a live performance by the one and only Sisqo. We have two pairs of tickets to give away. All you have to do is tell us which '90s movie was most cruelly snubbed by Oscar voters and why. We'll pick the best and put you on the guest list.

Let's get started.

Sorry for posting this so early in the week, but I didn't want to forget. This Friday is my last day at work before starting a new job AND my coworker's birthday. So we were hoping to celebrate with a happy hour in DC (our office is in Arlington, and I think we are all a little bored with the same old places). Any ideas? The group will be about 10 people in their mid-20s, looking for a decent priced happy hour with food options. I was thinking maybe Barcode, Brasserie Beck, or Russia House. Hopefully somewhere that doesn't get insanely packed on a Friday night, if that even exists. And it must be Metro accessible. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

I'd rule out Beck right away, because it's insanely packed, and there's not room for 10 people at the bar unless you get there when they open.

Barcode is usually a safe bet -- hard to beat half-price drinks, and if you call ahead, it's usually possible to get them to save some space with a group. Science Club is another spot with good happy hour prices where you won't feel like you're on top of the people next to you. I've found Public Bar to be tolerable at some Friday happy hours, and insanely packed at others.

Chatters? Favorite cheap Friday happy hour spots with groups?

Mortal Kombat. No, really, how is anyone going to answer anything other than Pulp Fiction?

Well, I would have said Reservoir Dogs ...

I'm trying to re-create a Miami-style D.C....where/what you suggest for a night out? Thanks!

Oh, how I wish we had clubs with pools and beds in the middle of them, but we don't. I'd probably hit the roof at Eden -- and not just because we're giving away those Sisqo tix. There are some greens up there (and some people dressed as if they're in Miami and not in D.C. in February.) In keeping with that Miami vibe (which I love, yet find strangely 90s), you could all meet up for sushi at Cafe Asia first.  

what is the best dive bar in dc? specifically for a crowd ages 25 - 35?

Depends what you like, because not all dive bars are created equal -- and it's also tough to get people to agree on what, exactly, constitutes a dive bar.

I mean, I love the Tune Inn. One of my favorite bars in the area, hands down. But some people tell me it's not a dive bar now because it's been refurbished after the fire, and they have Fat Tire on tap. (Doesn't bother me, since I'm usually drinking Natty Boh with my patty melts.)

I've called both Solly's and the Red Derby dives in print, and people told me that those weren't dives because they were too new, and therefore "fake." And then I was told that the Raven isn't a dive because too many hipsters go there.

But I'd say any of those bars could top a "Best Dive Bar in D.C." list. And maybe the Pug -- which is welcomeing Flogging Molly to an all-you-can-drink charity event tonight -- would make it, too.

Ann, is it just me, or did "The Muppets" get shafted? Just one nomination, the 50/50 shot for best song? I'm not saying it should be "Best Picture", but that's a lotta no-love. For what it's worth, they even nominated the wrong song - "Life's a Happy Song" blows away "Man or Muppet". For 90s snubs, I'll say go with "American Pie", because Jason Biggs' hookup with Alyson Hannigan was totally the "Best Original Score"

Rim shot! Well played, my friend. I must disagree with you on the 'Man or a Muppet' song, however, I thought that was by far the best song in the movie, and I'm bummed they've decided not to do performances of the nominees this year, because that would be hil-arious.

As for THE MUPPETS being nominated in other categories...Not sure about that. I loved it as much as the next aging nostalgic Baby Boomer pining for an unretrievable past, but  -- I'm not sure I see Oscar material in any other category. (Next year, Jason Segal, next year!)

Love Love Love you Going Out Gurus and so happy to be back in DC so I can ask about all the happenings! Besides the DC film society event, what will be the fun hip Oscar viewig party this year?

Here's the running list so far; I'm not going to lie, the fun at Town Danceboutique is calling my name. Red carpet, drag queens, people who are as obsessed as I am with what Emma Stone and Michelle Williams will wear? Yes, please.

This feels like such a mediocre year for Best Picture nominees. None really stand out -- I saw them all and can't get excited about any of them. HORRIBLE: The Help, War Horse, Extrememly Loud & Incredibly Close Cute novelty: The Artist, Midnight in Paris Decent kids film: Hugo The rest, Descendants/Moneyball/Tree of Life were all solid but I don't see any of them enduring in our collective memories as a GREAT FILM for years to come the way a Schindler's List or Silence of the Lambs does. I saw at least a half dozen films last year that were all better than these nominees. Your thoughts?

You echo the sentiments of many viewers out there. It'll be interesting to see how those feelings are reflected in the ratings on Oscar night. Between so many of the nominees representing nostalgia (see 'pining for an unretreivable past') and going back to Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg et al. as hosts, the whole thing feels like a giant snooze.

That said, I'm not part of the critical backlash against THE ARTIST. I understand the appeal of that movie, and I think it's easy to ignore the value of pure pleasure when it comes to filmgoing. It has an emotional pull on audiences that can't be denied, and ultimately it's emotion -- not artistry or technical finesse -- that defines a Best Picture for the Academy.

I was listening to a Splendid Table podcast from November, and they did this extended profile of a bar in DC called The Big Board--which has a bunch of different craft brews on tap, and prices that vary with consumption--the more of something people in the bar order, the more that price goes down. It sounded like fun--except I've never heard of it. What gives? Does this bar exist?

Yeah, it exists. And they have a few decent beers on tap, including Chocolate City. Great burgers. But the whole "Market pricing" thing has never seemed to work for me. I sat at the bar one night and had a few beers and a burger and the prices of the beers never changed. Maybe it was just bad timing, but it's happened to me before...

Fargo was awesome. The English Patient...not so much. At the time I thought I was too young to "get it," but now, I am convinced than ever that I my teenaged self did indeed have good movie sense.

How dare you speak ill of the "English Patient"? It's pretty much ruined me for all men, though.  I'm still waiting for someone to tell me they're obsessed with even my collarbone.

Hey Gurus, Any definitive word on when Bar Pilar will be open and serving food, in addition to its partial opening and serving of libations currently? Thanks

I hear it will be another couple of weeks. Work is being done upstairs, and they want to finish that (and do staff training) before opening the new dining room/cocktail bar.

Maybe not an "original score," but the 90's teenage party classic Can't Hardly Wait featured songs from Barry Manilow, Guns N' Roses, and even Mark Knopfler! Now that's a well-rounded soundtrack.

Now THIS is an answer I wasn't expecting...

At the time: Last of the Mohicans

In retrospect: Usual Suspects

Ths Usual Suspects seems to be a popular answer.

Just a quick plug for both the Animated and Live Action shorts at E Street (they don't have Documentary feature). It gives you a chance to see all nominees for a category in under two hours (and Animated even throws in a few more). Lots of the nominees leave a lot to be desired, but "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" for "Animated" and "Time Freak" for Live Action will knock your socks off.

So glad you plugged that program, and the documentary shorts can be viewed at the West End Cinema as well. I haven't seen the animated shorts yet, but echo your admiration for TIME FREAK (do you think it will win?), and I liked THE SHORE, set in Ireland and starring the wonderful Ciaran Hinds. Shorts are sublime, go see them if you can!

I saw Modern Times a few days after seeing The Artist. Oh my God, what a difference. Modern Times so much more profound and enduring, the acting so much more moving and conveyed more depth of human character. I thoroughly enjoyed The Artist, don't get me wrong, but Best Picture? It was so derivative of Singin in the Rain and the plot of A Star is Born.

True, true, all true. THE ARTIST is really a pastiche -- but, that said, it's also a celebration  and for a younger generation it might be the gateway to discovering those earlier films (much like HUGO brought Georges Melies into public consciousness). I can't argue with your assessment of THE ARTIST, I guess I see the glass just as half-full when it comes to that movie!

My husband and I were lucky to secure a babysitter for Sunday night so we can go to an Oscar party. The invitation said, "Black tie and Oscar dress is appreciated." But we have NOTHING like this at all. So aside from buying something (which we just can't afford to do), is there something fun that we can do, on the cheap? I thought about taking a white tee for my husband and painting a bow tie/cummerbund on it (or something equally lame). Thoughts?

Whether you can do something funny/lame depends on the party-thrower. Is it a hotel/club/ticketed party, or at the home of some folks who would appreciate your adorable tomfoolery?  If you feel like you'd be the only people going silly rather than serious, then what you need is to hit a thrift store ASAP.You can always find corny/occasionally amazing sequin gowns on the racks for $25 or so (you sound crafty, so just buy a ton of safety pins to pull the thing in if it's too big.) If not, go for a cute cocktail dress that's sparkly -- it doesnt have to be a gown. As for hubs, he can always do a black suit with a red bowtie if you can't score a thrifted tux.

in today's paper, you offered suggestions to a woman who was looking for places for her & her 40 something friends ("more Helen Mirren"-types) to celebrate their birthdays....but that was in U street only. i'm just turning 40, i consider myself hip...& am open to any part of the city. what are your best picks for a great nightclub experience? nothing too pretentious with crazy expensive bottle service. but i do want a nice atmosphere& to be amongst other beautiful ppl 25 and over..& hear great hip hop, dance & house music. btw...i was disappointed to see that none of your "editor's picks' include nightlife specifically for the 30 & over crowd:( i don't understand why the only age-specific category you provide is for the under 21 set?!

We provide a guide specifically for the folks under 21 because many bars do not allow people under 21 to enter, and so they need to know which places will let them in. Meanwhile, anyone 21 and over can legally walk into any bar or club in the area.

Outside of a few places like McFadden's and McNasty's, I really think the idea of "bars only for 20somethings" is going away. You'll find a mix of ages almost everywhere, from the H Street spots mentioned in last week's chat to U Street bars to 14th Street lounges.

For your birthday -- I'd say P.O.V. at the W Hotel, the Park at 14th, Shadow Room and Josephine would be my current nightclub picks, whether you're looking for a table or not.

Sorry, I forgot to include this in my original question. Do you think/know if the prices will remain the same or will the patrons be footing the bill for their expansion/renovation? Thanks

This is something that hasn't been finalized, as far as I know. The kitchen has more than doubled in size, and I would suspect the menu to get even more inventive -- I think Justin Bittner is one of the best chefs in D.C., and I can't wait to see what he can do with more than a four-burner stove. The question is how that translates to new/higher prices.

Gotta go with either "The Usual Suspects" or "Toy Story." Two of the most memorable movies of the 1990s. Hugely influential. Both got the nod for original screenplay, but were snubbed for Best Picture -- despite great direction, acting, etc. And it's not like 1995 was some incredible year in filmmaking: "Braveheart"? "Apollo 13"? "Babe?" I bet a lot of Academy voters would like to have their ballots back... (Out of town, so ignore me for the ticket giveaway even if you like the answer)

You're so right about the 1990s -- which began with the inauspicious win of DANCES WITH WOLVES over GOOD FELLAS (the outrage!), then hit a low mid-point when FORREST GUMP beat out both PULP FICTION and QUIZ SHOW -- such a great decade for movies but not Oscars!

And we won't even address the scandalous omissions in the documentary category -- from ROGER & ME and THE THIN BLUE LINE to HOOP DREAMS...All by way of saying that Academy members do tend to skew older, whiter and more male than the general population, and sometimes the winners reflect that more conservative -- dare I say nostalgic, in the instance of this year -- sensibility.

Thanks for your good observations!

'Rus! Some friends and I are headed to DAR tonight for the Rick Ross concert. We'd like to grab drinks and maybe a quick bite beforehand (bar food is perfectly fine). I know there's not a lot in the immediate area...where would you go? Thanks!

There's really not a lot around there. What I might do is grab a burger or duck wraps or sushi at the Hamilton, then just walk across the Ellipse. (Google maps says that's about .5 miles.)

The cynic in me thinks that Raju will win. Time Freak seems to think too small - it tells a small story, rather than the bigger ones of the rest (the one about the altar server was the same way). The one that frustrated me the most was the Norwegian one - it seemed to be so close to be really interesting, but it didn't work.

I agree with you on the Norwegian short film, it seemed forced and a bit twee. RAJU was extremely well executed and had a very strong emotional core, so you may well have just nailed it! I'll raise my glass to you on Sunday night if and when it wins!

I think it's David Denby who has a long and thoughtful piece on silent movies and how The Artist misses certain elements that made those films work in their own time. Excellent takes on the work of Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore and Lon Chaney, who knew how to take it all the way to the top without ever going over it. (He discusses Barrymore's transformation in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which must be seen to be believed.)

Sigh, another David Denby article I wish I would have written. Thanks a lot! (I kid, I'm a huge New Yorker fan and thanks for the tip!)

So I have gotten some great ideas around the web, red carpet bingo, fantasy draft oscar pools, oscar show bingo and of course the ever popular oscar pool. So I am all set for activities. But what to serve ( with so many best picture nominees I am really not feeling the whole idea of basing a menu on the best picture films). So I am trying to think of other things other than a cool recipe I have for popcorn. Ideas?

Sounds like you're having a Superbowl-esque Oscar party rather than something super-elegant, right? I actually really like hitting the snacks section at Trader Joes for get togethers like this. Goat cheese, brie,  crackers, hummus, falafel chips, some of those spicy cashews, etc.  If you WERE looking for a theme, I would totally go Midnight in Paris - there are these  little macarons you can thaw out and they're pretty good... 

I don't think you are one if you're trying to be one. Back in the 1970s, there was a place in the West End called The Venus Restaurant. You could get a draft Bud, a shot of rail bourbon and change back from your dollar--the drinks totaled 95 cents. That was a dive bar.

True. But I also don't think the Red Derby or Solly's (to pick two) are trying to necessarily be dive bars. I think they're just un-fancy neighborhood bars. Neither advertises itself as "D.C.'s best dive," for example.

The Derby offers a beer and a shot for $5, which seems to be the going rate at similar places, like MiG Bar, which again, isn't quite a dive, but can sure feel like one.

Have you heard any updates on the rumor that Rasika will be opening up another spot in the West End? Thought they were supposed to be there by end of this month, but I've seen no sign of a restaurant going in to that building. Thanks!

Word on the street (ok, from Tom) is that it is looking like a March opening (adjust your expectations to restaurant time), and that restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and chefs Vikram Sunderam of old school Rasika and Nilesh Singhvi of the Bombay Club just returned from London where they were checking out the restaurant landscape for inspiration.

Oh yes, definitely at someone's house. I'm not that crazy to expect to walk into a ticketed party in a hotel ballroom accompanied by my husband in a tux t-shirt. But thanks for the advice! Any excuse to visit a thrift store is good to me.

Oh, good. You're in luck, too -- we're heading into prom season, so I think they're going to be thick with formalwear.

It's my birthday this weekend and I'm trying to find a fun family thing to celebrate. But the most reasonably priced venue I can find is $25 per ticket. What (other than museums and outdoor activities) can we do that's fun and inexpensive?

Can you send a little more detail? What do you like to do? It's hard for us to tell from what's here what ages we're talking about, whether you mean dining or festivals, etc.

Know of anywhere in Bethesda to do karaoke tonight?

The Barking Dog, starting around 8 p.m. They used to have $4 pints during the singing....

Dear GOG's, I will be entertaining out-of-towners in a couple of weeks and I would like to know which neighborhood I should be spending time in in order to show how fabulous DC is - with fabulous eateries, hip shopping and too-good-to-be-true people watching. Thank you!

How about 14th Street? Shopping around the intersection of 14th and U, then dining/people-watching at Blackbyrd/Pearl Dive/El Centro D.F./The Black Cat/Bar Pilar/The Gibson/etc.

Personally, I think H Street NE is better for bars and people-watching, but there's just no  shopping over there yet.

Snubbed in the 1990s and snubbed in 2012: Albert Brooks. "Defending Your Life," "Mother," "Modern Romance," "Drive" -- and still his only Academy nomination was for "Broadcast News." Grr.

Reservoir Dogs wasn't as completely realized a movie as Pulp Fiction - it was good, but Pulp Fiction was better. Pulp Fiction also had lots of people who had seen it, so it beats out The Shawshank Redemption, which didn't have a chance. Though, the more I think about it ... Goodfellas was released in 1990....

My 30-something boyfriend and I are celebrating our 4 yr anniversary on March 1st (or the weekend after) and need some creative celebratory ideas. We are a pretty low-key couple and on a budget. We enjoy the outdoors, competitive activities (like mini golf, etc), salsa dancing, and good food. Any suggestions in the DC/Nova area? Thanks!

Congratulations! Top Golf in Alexandria could fit the bill; it's a ton of fun, and it's open year-round. Rock-climbing at SportRock is another Guru favorite thing to do; there's something about making it to the top with your partner and cheering each other on that's pretty romantic. Without spending much money, a great date night is Cuba Libre's new-ish salsa nights - if you want to get a little Top 40 music, too, try Friday; Saturday night is a more pristine salsa night for the serious dancers. You might also consider a fun class later too, since it IS your fourth anniversary (they often fill up quickly, so you might not get one on March 3-4 weekend): Cookology (and Culinarie in D.C., and L'Academie de Cuisine in Maryland) offer couples cooking classes that are pretty great. Each is different (some feel fancier, others put more emphasis on the fun), so check them out to see which one is right for you. 

Need a good (metro-accessible) date night idea for this Saturday. Thank you! And I still cry at Untamed Heart.

Hmmm. Two options, both copped from this week's Nightlife Agenda:

Head up to Silver Spring for Memphis' Daddy Mack Blues Band at the American Legion hall, bookended by dinner at the Quarry House and post-concert cocktails at Jackie's Sidebar.

Or go see local Afrobeat band Elikeh at the Rock and Roll Hotel -- with guest drummers from Malcolm X Park. Start the night with dinner at the new Boundary Road or Ethiopic, and end with a beer or frozen drink at Little Miss Whiskey's.

Shawshank Redemption was the best movie ever to be snubbed! Not only great acting but a great story. If only that Forrest kid hadn't stolen the thunder that year. I mean did Forest crawl "to freedom through five hundred yards of sh&& smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards... that's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile." No all he had to do was run...

Sadly, it's time to end. Thanks to Ann Hornaday for joining us and taking Oscar questions. Speaking of Oscars, we're going to give those Sisqo tickets to .... the person who is convinced the "Can't Hardly Wait" soundtrack was snubbed, because they sound like the kind of person who'd love this '90s night, and the person who realizes that yes, "Fargo" is superior to "The English Patient" in every way. Send your names to and I'll get your names on the guest list.

No get outside and enjoy this beautiful day.

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The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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