There’s just something about Sunday night casual gatherings in the off-football season. On Sunday, February 8, Veritas was forcing organizers to haul in extra chairs to accommodate such a fest.
It was Dallas Uncorked with movie brain trust Gary Cogill giving his insight for the upcoming Academy Awards. It was like having Santa’s chief elf giving the insider tips on the hot must-have toys for the season.
Dallas Uncorked founder/Cogill wife Hayley Hamilton Cogill sighed that they had filled the wine bar practically to the max to benefit Dallas Film Society and Café Momentum, and could have sold many more tickets.
Somebody asked, “What about the Grammys?” After all, they were being presented that night. But this was a film-loving crowd, so they had already set their DVR’s.
Dallas Film Society chief Lee Papert whispered he was in the back of the room. Someone said that Lee was smart to be back there for off-the-record commenting.
But up front was a reserved table for Ellen and Don Winspear. When someone asked what Don was up to, he was surprised at the question, answering, “I thought you were more astute. We’re chairing First Night.” Guess Don hadn’t gotten the memo that the official word hadn’t been announced. The staff was keeping it mum until the whole kit and caboodle was ready for presentation.
Former Dallas Cowboy Flozell Adams with Marisa Ritter, Pat Holder and Wayne Ritter were at a high top near the table with Paul Divis and Randall Goss, who was solo. Randall’s wife Kara was spending quality time with her 12-year-old daughter Kate Peterson.
Speaking of old-time relationships, Tiffany Divis was with her longtime buddy Lori Rakowitz.
In the entry area at a table for two, John Tesar was chomping on popcorn with Amy Vanderoef, while Debra Nelson was catching up friends on her recent vacation in Mexico.
After enough wine had been served, it was just about time for Gary to present his insights. First, there was an auction of all types of goodies from the Dallas Film Society, Studio Movie Grill and Boulevardier Dallas.
After giving a brief run through of his life prior to the night, Gary told of his attending the Oscars. Highlights of his talk included:
- He admitted that he never went inside the theater for the Oscar presentation. Instead, he did the red carpet interviews. One time he was standing on the red carpet with the BBC on one side and Women’s Wear Daily on the other. Tom Cruise twirled Nicole Kidman and she turned to WWD about her outfit and Tom chatted with Gary. Surprised, Gary asked Tom what he was wearing. Tom replied, “Tom Ford and what are you wearing, Gary?” Gary’s response: “Culwell and Son [in] Snider Plaza.”
- Every year following the presentation, Marcia Gay Harden would seek him out and kiss him on the lips with her then-husband glowering.
- Among the lineup of limousines delivering guests at the Spielberg after-party, Gary pulled up in a red Ford Fiesta.
- Interviews: He liked Robin Williams, who would correspond with Gary’s daughter. He found Tommy Lee Jones to be difficult. Meryl Streep and George Clooney were dreams.
- Comparison of 2013 to 2014 film season: 2013 was one of the best in the last 15 years. This year’s crop not so.
- “American Sniper”: “American Sniper” was better than he thought it would be. “It’s a very conflicted thing. One of Clint Eastwood’s best.”
- One of his favorites: “Begin Again”
- Favorite movie of the year: “Birdman”
- Most complete movie: “Imitation Game”
For his Oscar picks, he revealed:
- Best original song: Song from “Selma” by John Legend
- Best supporting actress: Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood”
- Best supporting actor: J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”
- Best actress: Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
- Best actor: Michael Keaton in “Birdman”
- Best movie: A tie between “Boyhood” or “Birdman”
In closing, Gary offered some movie etiquette tips that won’t be found in Emily Post. They are:
- Turn off your cellphones in the theater. “When you hold it up to check your messages, you have turned on a beacon to about 10 rows behind you and it annoys everyone.”
- Stop shaking the stupid ice in your cup. “You might as just go rattle the wall.”
- Stop shaking your popcorn bag. At least, wait until the loud moments in the movie.
- Stop ordering theater nachos because “the jalapenos stink for about five rows.”
And by the way, all the auction items went for more than the value prices. In fact the DFS package for the Dallas International Film Festival passes was sold twice.