This Sunday is Oscar Night – or, as it’s officially known, the 86th Annual Academy Awards – and I can’t wait. Never mind that I’ve only seen one of the Best Picture nominees, I’m still excited to watch the ceremony in its entirety.
My first Oscar viewing was back in 1977 (I’m dating myself with this confession!), when Star Wars was nominated for Best Picture. I was certain it would win, because it was clearly the most awesome movie out there. (In my defense, I was eleven at the time). I was furious when my mom wouldn’t let me stay up to watch the final hour of the telecast. And even more furious when I found out a romantic comedy called Annie Hall won instead.
Over the next ten years, I watched the ceremony on and off, usually with my dad, and only if a movie I liked was nominated. But in 1988, during my first year of grad school at UCLA, I went to my first Oscar party. It was a small affair—just eight of us—hosted by my good friend, Jeff Jenkins, a wonderful guy who has never let his blindness stand in the way of his passion for movies. Jeff went on to host an Oscar party every year after that, always with a betting pool and delicious “themed” food.
When my husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Wisconsin, I missed that Oscar party a lot. Most of the new friends I made had little interest in the Academy Awards, so I didn’t start a party tradition of my own. But I continued to watch, year after year, even though it was just my ballot sheet and me.
Until the year my daughter starting watching with me. I don’t remember when she first got hooked, or when I finally relented and let her stay up through the entire thing, but it has now become a tradition. With our ballots in hand, we eat popcorn and M & Ms, comment on the gorgeous dresses, and check off the winners. Even during the weeks leading up to the show, we’ll discuss the possible outcomes for the major categories, as though we’re seasoned movie critics.
Why do I love watching the Oscars so much? I’m not sure. With two kids, a busy schedule, and a limited budget, I don’t get out to the movies as much as I’d like. Most of the time I end up watching the nominated films long after they’ve been out in the theaters, usually on DVD or Netflix. But I love the actual ceremony—the gowns, the red carpet, the montages and tributes, and the song and dance numbers—and so I continue to watch.
Do you have any traditions when you watch the Oscars? Any fun parties?