See you at the movies!
Since 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures, a.k.a. “The Academy,” has been collecting anything and everything related to film. In fact, it has the largest collection of film-related items in the entire world. So, what does one do with all that stuff? Well, build a world-class 300,000 square-foot museum designed by Renzo Piano, of course!
I recently had the chance to explore the exhibits, and have a lovely dinner (and sip a few cocktails) all within the confines of this incredible monument to cinema. My journey began on the second floor in the “Stories of Cinema” exhibition. Having gone to film school myself, my inner film nerd geeked out at the sight of the original Rosebud from Citizen Kane, one of Bruce Lee’s costumes and set of nunchucks, Cher’s iconic Bob Mackie Oscar dress, and other original ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. There was even an entire room dedicated to Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee!
I was like a kid in the ultimate film candy store. After some more wandering and lots of picture taking, I ended up in the costume design room and was floored by the gigantic floral gown worn by Florence Pugh in Midsommar. The room also features costumes from The Big Lebowski and Rocketman, amongst many others.
After the flurry of costumes, it was time for “The Oscar Experience.” I was guided into a room with a real-life Oscar statuette and asked to hold it and pretend like I was giving an acceptance speech, which was later sent to me in a 15-second video. Then it was back to the exhibition to see more movie props, including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face from Terminator, a life-size Edward Scissorhands, C-3PO, ET, and even Jaws.
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The museum also features a world-class theater located in the sphere building. The David Geffen theater seats 1,000 and has the best sound out of any movie theater I’ve ever been to. The night I was there they were getting ready to screen the original Star Wars.
Spending the day exploring can really work up an appetite and fortunately, there is an incredible restaurant inside the museum called Fanny’s. Fanny’s is named after Fanny Brice, Barbara Streisand’s character from 1968’s Funny Girl. I was quite thirsty, so I sat at the bar before my meal and ordered “The World’s Best Martini.” The name lived up to the promise and I highly recommend it.
The feel of the restaurant is very open and inviting. When I sat down at our booth our fantastic waiter, Jeremy, came over and gave us the lay of the land. I ordered another cocktail, this time “The Nightmare Alley.” which was similar to an old-fashioned with a side of bourbon butter popcorn. For appetizers, we had the Caesar salad and the torched yellowtail, which were both delicious. Then we indulged in the spinach linguine for a pasta course.
For our main, we shared the Cote “Maison du Boeuf,” which was a huge piece of prime rib with a side of crispy fries and fava beans. Don’t judge me but I had a liquid dessert by way of an espresso martini. As Rhett Butler once said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Overall my experience at the Academy Museum was a total blast, and along with dinner at Fanny’s, I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.
With all due respect, the outrageous antisemitic exclusion of exhibits and information on the founders of Hollywood should keep every film fan out of this museum until both a major apology, not the "oh gee" mention that has come from the museum and the Academy thus far, and a major permanent exhibit about the founders of Hollywood, without whose presence Hollywood might still be non-exisitant, are part of the museum. That permanent exhibit should give a real look at the men who started Hollywood, both on their glorious side, and on their dark side which included racism and a rampant effort to totally control the people who worked for the studios. The men were human beings of the age in which they live. While they were amazing, they had major warts and worse and all of that should be told. By excluding them, it was another antisemitic slap in the face of every American Jewish citizen and a continuation of the raging increased drumbeat of hate of Jews that's been rising mostly in white people throughout the nation.
Is that the old May Co. building?