The reliably ludicrous Neiman Marcus “Christmas Book”—a glorified holiday catalogue featuring really expensive regular gifts alongside really expensive “fantasy” gifts like $50,000 his-and-hers Quadskis—usually doesn’t offer much for film-lovers, unless you’re the sort of viewer who just can’t attend the cinema without your $50 Neiman Marcus-branded tub of popcorn. And it still doesn’t, really, though this year’s edition offers something that might appeal to movie-lovers desperate to rid themselves of an extra $425,000 or so: The “Vanity Fair Academy Awards Experience.” For the low, low price of not quite half a million dollars, you and a loved one—and if you have that sort of money to throw at this thing, you probably have a lot of loved ones to choose from—will be deigned respectable enough to mingle with “Hollywood royalty during the film industry’s most celebrated weekend.”
Of course, reading the fine print reveals that this “Academy Awards Experience” doesn’t actually include admission to the Academy Awards, because everyone knows the actual ceremony is the least-important part of Oscar weekend, which, in Neiman Marcus’ view anyway, is more about “customized excursions” and “pre-party spa pampering.” But it does get you into the storied Vanity Fair Oscar party, “where you’ll mix, mingle, and revel with silver-screen legends past and present” who definitely will not mind a commoner like you mixing and mingling among Hollywood royalty like themselves, and will welcome you with open arms into their deep conversations about the cinematic form. And, hey, transportation is included!
The one redeeming facet of this ridiculous exercise is that most of the price for this “experience” goes to charity, the Heart Of Neiman Marcus Foundation, which supports youth arts eduction. (Presumably that education goes deeper into the arts than “customized excursions” and “spa pampering.”) If you’re going to pay the cost of a really nice single-family home to go to a glorified industry party, you may as well earn some good karma in the process. And hey, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to corner Robert Downey Jr. at the party and ask him when he’s making Iron Man 4. He’ll love that.