Oscars 2012: Why I Still Love The Academy Awards

The thing about watching the Academy Awards is it's only partially about watching the awards. Ask them what I served at my party and they will answer without hesitation. Cupcakes.
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There are plenty of reasons to grumble about the Oscars. The length! The snubs! The fact that Neil Patrick Harris is not hosting! I have no doubt that there are ways to fix the ceremony and make it less boring. I understand, too, that the Academy Awards may have some negative implications for the film industry.

I get it.

I still really love the Oscars.

The thing about watching the Academy Awards is that it's only partially about watching the awards. Ask my friends who won Best Actor last year, and they may come up with the answer after a few minutes. Ask them what I served at my party, and they will answer without hesitation. Last year, as in past years, I served cupcakes. Cupcakes with nominees' faces on them. Cupcakes that included an exact likeness of Colin Firth if Colin Firth looked a lot more like Rob Lowe.

Over the past few weeks, I've found myself having several exchanges like this: "How about brunch on Sunday?" "I can't do Sunday ... what about Saturday?" "I already have plans Saturday ... drinks Thursday?" "No, that won't work ... well, I'll see you for sure for Oscars." Now that my friends and I are managing different busy schedules, it can be hard to find time to catch up in person. Oscar night may not allow for the same personal conversations as a one-on-one meal, but it's still nice knowing the date is on the calendar. We might be focused on a movie star's extremely revealing slit, blinding jewelry or "is that bed head on purpose?" hair rather than on Big Life Questions, but sometimes, especially on a Sunday evening, that kind of mindless conversation is welcome. Last year, we debated the attractiveness of certain actors, and I distinctly remember making the case for John Hawkes, describing him as "hot in an Adrien Brody kind of way." That this discussion happened -- and that I found this picture shortly thereafter -- only strengthened my belief that this is one of the best nights of the year.

It's been a long time since my slumber-party days, and though I don't miss the terror that someone might freeze my underwear, I like that the biggest night in Hollywood can revive the spirit of those get-togethers. Some people throw formal parties for the occasion, a tribute to fancy festivities happening in L.A. I invite a group of women to show up in a dress code I call Sweatpants Casual. I let them know the start time of the ceremony but note that I will be on my couch for hours before that if anyone wants to join me for red carpet. I also serve sweets that would have had us bouncing off the walls as kids but will do nothing to prevent us from passing out immediately after the show. Well, as soon as everyone gets home, as it's not really a sleepover.

This type of gathering alone would be enough to cement my love of the Oscars, but if I may take this to a deeper level for just a moment, there's another reason I look forward to the event every year. While some people like Oscars night because they remember watching the show with loved ones in the past, I like it because it's reflective of my present. The fact that I now actually know what I'm talking about when it comes to the nominees matters to me -- and not simply because I might have an advantage in my pool. Movies (and culture in general) became real interests of mine only after I moved to New York. I certainly watched movies when I was younger, but I also recognize that I truly gravitated toward them as an adult. I could go with others on a weekend or on my own as I became more independent, and I started to amass references that I didn't have before. Though films aren't entirely responsible for my relationships in a new city, they did become one way I connected with new people, often colleagues who became close friends.

Two of those friends will be at my apartment on Sunday night, contenders in the battle for the Meryl Streep cupcake. They'll be joined by women I grew up with and women I met in college. And when the ceremony gets boring, we'll gossip and open more wine and grab another plate of snacks. We'll prove the Fashion Police utterly unnecessary with our own commentary. I'm rooting for the wonderful "Midnight in Paris," but if it doesn't win, will I enjoy the evening any less? As George Valentin of "The Artist" would say, [shakes head].

Do you love the Oscars? Tell us why by tweeting @HuffPostWomen with the hashtag #ilovetheoscars and we'll include your responses in a slideshow. And follow us on Sunday as we live-tweet the ceremony!

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