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On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences announced this year’s Oscar nominees.  The event, which took place at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time in Beverly Hills, California, was streamed live on the Academy’s official webpage.

Unable to catch the broadcast when it originally aired because of my morning classes, I had to hurry back to my room in Loyola Hall and jump online. I was anxious to read the list of this year’s nominees.  After learning that one of my favorite movies of all-time, “Toy Story 3”, had been nominated for Best Picture, along with nine other hits from this year, including “Inception”, “Black Swan”, and “The King’s Speech”, I was ecstatic and proceeded to tell my roommate each of my predictions of who I think will win for the different awards and why.

If you know me, you have probably already guessed that I also told her all of my many theories about Disney movies and their record of winning (and unfortunately losing) at the Academy Awards.  After patiently listening to this lengthy explanation, she asked me why I knew so many random facts and details about Oscar history and how I could possibly remember it all. I replied by saying that Oscar night is kind of a very big deal for me and it has been since I was younger.

Here’s the story. I guess every family has their own traditions. Some are commonly shared, while others are, let’s just say…unique. For as long as I can remember, watching the Academy Awards has been a long-standing tradition in my family.

It all began long before I was born when one year, my uncle on my mother’s side of the family decided to conduct a family Oscar pool.  The rules were simple. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were each asked to predict who they thought would win            in each of the major categories.  In keeping with the awards show theme, the winner would receive their own personal and very authentic looking Oscar trophy that had been purchased by my uncle, and of course, you would also have family bragging rights for the rest of the year.

Throughout my childhood, I always noticed that my mother’s family had a great interest in movies.  During family gatherings, when not debating on the ever popular topic of sports, movies always tended to be at the center of discussion.  When it comes to my family, a simple conversation about a particular movie, actor, or actress can instantly turn into a rousing game of movie trivia. As a result, for me, it was no surprise that over time, the Academy Awards had basically become an unofficial family holiday.

My first memory of watching the Oscars was in 1998, when “Titanic” was nominated for Best Picture and pretty much won everything.  I specifically remember that my parents’ predictions were identical, except for Best Supporting Actress. My father picked Gloria Stuart in “Titanic”, while my mother went with her gut feeling and chose Kim Basinger in “L.A. Confidential”.  Sure enough and much to everyone’s surprise, my mother was right, but she fell short of winning it all and tied for first place with one of her older brothers.

At only six and a half years old, I became extremely fascinated by my family’s tradition and eagerly waited for Oscar night to come around year after year.

In 2006, the stakes grew higher when the grandchildren were finally allowed to join the pool.  Now, there were twenty-one participants instead of the usual eleven and the competition thickened. After years of witnessing this spectacle, I was ready to become a part of the tradition.

Five years later, I can proudly say that I am my family’s current Oscar champion and I am hoping to keep my title next month when the 83rd Academy Awards airs on February 27 on ABC.

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