Dad and Jimmy Stewart, and a photobomber.

Dad and Jimmy Stewart, and a photobomber.

My dad used to sneak in to awards shows in Hollywood. He was a graduate student in psychology at a school in Pasadena, fifteen miles or so east of the theaters and auditoriums where the biggest names and the best-dressed gathered under one roof. He and some friends of his would, on these occasions, rent tuxedos and hover around the outside of the auditoriums until after the show’s start, when the attendees would get restless or need a cigarette break and step outside. The borders were a little more porous then, back in the late 1970s, and anyone who looked reasonably well-dressed and had enough time on their hands could make their way in.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching old movies on warm summer nights in southern California, or cold autumn nights after we moved to Illinois. My mother, who may or may not be entirely deranged, showed the film Psycho to my siblings and me when I was just 9 years old. And I am the oldest.

But to this day, I love scary movies. And movies in general have provided some of our richest family moments. I can’t tell you how many times we have cried at the same moment in My Dog Skip, or imitated Marty Feldman doing “walk this way!” from Young Frankenstein, or yelled at Jimmy Stewart to run away from Kim Novak in Vertigo.

The Oscars are the top night of that festival of self-love that is Hollywood. And although the rampant narcissism doesn’t need my encouragement, here I am — because sometimes, the narcissism fades and the story transcends human experience and the music swells and for that split second, the whole world is watching. (Okay, a very specific subset of the world with the interest, time, and resources to be able to watch. That was hyperbole.) Plus, the dresses are so pretty.

So join me this week as we wade through Oscar history, bests and worst, and look at how faith and the Academy intersect. We’ll also talk about way more trivial stuff, like whose outfits were better and who didn’t show up to claim their award and how I still blame James Franco for anything that goes wrong with the Oscars. And gear up for the big day on Sunday. I’m already stockpiling champagne, goat cheese, and picking out which jammies will make their appearance while I sit on the couch to watch the event of the year.

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