A headline in a press release about an offering this year in the “Oscars gift bag” — a bulging mix of high-end swag presented to Academy Award nominees in five top acting and directing categories — caught my eye today.
I was even more intrigued when I continued reading from the release, which was distributed by Visit Sweden USA, the Swedish tourism organization:
“When the whole world turns its eyes to the Oscars on April 25, Sweden’s remote lighthouse island of Pater Noster will once again be in the spotlight.
“While just four actors and one director will bring home the gold in the top individual categories, all 24 Oscars nominees receive a gift bag including a stay at this lighthouse turned hotel perched at the edge of the archipelago in one of Sweden’s most barren, windswept locations.“
I soon found myself trying to imagine travel agents (much less actors’ agents) struggling to sell their clients on this one:
“You say you’re looking for a secluded honeymoon spot? Well, sure, you could lie in the sand, sip fruity cocktails, and drink in the sunsets on some lesser-known Caribbean island, but how about heading to one of Sweden’s most barren, windswept locations?
“They say the sun hardly sets in summer there, so you really do get more for your krona. And the lutefisk is to die for.”
But Then I Reconsidered…
When I read this quote from Erik Nissen Johansen, co-owner of Pater Noster and founder of Stylt, the firm that designed the hotel:
“To be part of the Oscars gift bag, as the only European destination – it almost doesn’t get bigger than that. We have known about this for a while, and honestly thought it was a joke when we were contacted via email by the Oscars organizers last fall.”
But it’s not a joke!
In fact, the press release continues:
“In addition to winning first prize in the prestigious Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design last year, Pater Noster landed massive media coverage for the initiative The Isolated Cinema, a partnership with Gothenburg Film Festival, in which one film enthusiast – a Swedish nurse – stayed in total isolation on the island for a full week in January with the festival films as her only companion.”
I realized I had seriously underestimated the appeal of this destination, especially after acquiring a taste for near-total isolation over the past year.
I think Visit Sweden USA put it best:
“Now only time will tell if Glenn Close, Anthony Hopkins, Viola Davis, Gary Oldman or any of the other Hollywood stars will be as brave and book a stay at this lighthouse on a desolate island in the North Sea.”
No question, the Swedes really know how to sell an island getaway!
Of Course, If This Were to Happen…
Clutching the invitations from their gift bags, Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Gary Oldman (Mank) — along with Sasha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Olivia Colman (The Father), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and 16 others — all unintentionally converge on Pater Noster at the same time:
EXT. — DESOLATE SWEDISH ISLAND — DAY
Sacha Baron Cohen (wandering around naked except for a Uzbeki-flag jockstrap): “Ah, at last to be away from these Hollywood flunkies with which I must up put! To experience a whole week on desolate North Sea island is no worse than three lifetimes as prisoner in Uzbekistan!”
Maria Bakalova (emerging from rig boat that transports guests from the Swedish mainland): “Sacha! What are you here doing wearing only gloriously unsexy patriotic jockstrap?”
Sacha Baron Cohen (appearing offended): “If you must ask, nursing my painful wounds for having suffered big joke of snub at Oscars: not landing Best Actor nod for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” (Eyes her menacingly.) “Unlike a certain Best Supporting Actress nominee I could name who got nod for very same moviefilm.”
Maria Bakalova: “But they say it’s an honor just to be nominated, as were you for your understated Best Supporting Actor triumph as Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago Seven.”
Sacha Baron Cohen: “Propaganda from corrupt Hollywood elites! Audience keep asking, who is that actor with funny hair playing Abbie Hoffman? And who was Abbie Hoffman, anyway? One of seven! I am singular star of Borat franchise! Everyone knows Borat! — even honorable former Gotham mayor Mr. Rudolph Giuliani!”
Soon Other Stars Arrive…
EXT. — EXPANSIVE SHOTS OF SKY AND SEA
A series of quick cuts to whirling helicopters and bobbing rig boats arriving from the mainland, each of which carries Gary Oldman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Viola Davis, Glenn Close, and Frances McDormand, followed shortly by a rig boat carrying 16 other top-category Oscar nominees, who form a kind of impromptu Greek chorus.
Glenn Close (spitting out a chaw of sticky brown tobacco juice): “You mean I picked up a nasty habit and wallowed in the dirt playing “Mamaw” in the sticks — and all I get is a week on a desolate windswept island in the North Sea with a bunch of other prima…”
Sir Anthony Hopkins (interrupting): “Let’s make the best of it, shall we? Did anyone pack black tie or over-the-top and barely around-the-bottom designer gowns? Or better yet, a nice chianti?”
Frances McDormand: “Stuff it, Hopkins — I’m the sheriff here. Does anyone know how many people this desolate island lighthouse hotel can accommodate?
Chorus of Unnamed Nominees (ominously): “Conflict! Conflict! Conflict!”
Olivia Colman (with head buried in hotel brochure): “This says there are nine rooms, and can sleep 18, max. So even if we double up…that still leaves six…”
Sacha Baron Cohen: “No problem! I will share room with all five actresses in Best Supporting category!”
Chorus of unnamed nominees (to beat of a Gilbert and Sullivan ditty): “Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha!”
Viola Davis (ignoring chorus, as Cohen eyes her up and down): “Dream on, Borat — I’m up for “Best Actress!”
George Clooney: Anyone for nude curling?
Chorus of unnamed nominees (mimicking Munch’s “Scream” face): “Surprise Plot Twist! Surprise Plot Twist!”
Gary Oldman: “What the [censored] are you doing in this script, Clooney? Where the [censored] are all the [censored] screenwriters when we need them?… Uh, Rosebud? What’s that? A sled? I don’t get it — what’s my motivation?”
Chorus of unnamed nominees: “What’s his motivation? What’s his motivation? Call rewrite! Call rewrite! Fire the writer! Fire the writer!”
And so it went for the rest of the week, only more so. Fortunately, one of the Best Director nominees captured all the drama on her smartphone, and the subsequent moviefilm (A-List Bickering at Pater Noster) will soon be appearing at your local cineplex!
Postscript and Disclaimer:
No Oscar nominees were harmed while composing this blog post.
And if any of the fortunate 24 honorees don’t want to use their invitations to Pater Noster, please send one to me — it sounds like my kinda place!
More from (and apologies to) Visit Sweden USA:
About Pater Noster:
“Built in 1868 by the acclaimed engineer Gustav von Heidenstam, the then state-of-the-art lighthouse Pater Noster made the dangerous North Sea waters safer for seafarers. The island was inhabited by lighthouse keepers and their families, with the occasional shipwreck survivor, for more than a century.
“Since then the buildings have been renovated to retain as much of their original identity as possible, and in 2020 reopened as a sustainably operated hotel and conference venue.
“The hotel sleeps 18 in nine rooms, and during the summer offers an exhilarating outdoor stay with incredible views of the sea and the stars.
“Dinner is served in the Boathouse, the Lighthouse Keeper’s dining room or – weather permitting – outside, and the menu is planned around the day’s fresh catch of seafood. Guests arrive by helicopter or rib boat from Marstrand or Gothenburg. “
For more information, see: paternoster.se
About the Oscars Gift Bags
“Though not officially affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, every Oscar nominee – win or lose – in the Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, and Best Director categories, receives a high-end gift bag often consisting of wellness products, exclusive memberships, hotel stays, and jewelry. The value of last year’s gift bag totaled $225,000.”
Special Note: RIP, Chadwick Boseman (nominated for Best Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), who would have made 25 recipients. Instead, he left his gift to all of us.
I love the thought of such a gift bag and vacation! Maybe the Lighthouse Hotel is the perfect site for the Medieval Feast? — Veronica Daly firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply: Brilliant idea!