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Andrea Langworthy: An award-worthy evening

The big buildup to Sunday night’s Oscars began the Monday before when my husband and I planned the menu for the upcoming broadcast. It ended Sunday afternoon with the start of the red carpet show, the prelude to the television event I have said is as special to me as my birthday.

Saying we “planned the menu” might not be the best choice of words. All we did was write down the party food we have for every awards show. Mini quiches — spinach for me, triple cheese or mushroom with red peppers for him — smoked salmon with cocktail sauce, fresh strawberries and asparagus bites. And, of course, red wine.

Then, we did something new. We decided to watch some of the nominated films ahead of time. Usually we wait until the entire season of award shows is over to compile a list of “must see” movies. But this year, many had already been released to DVD or were available On Demand through our cable provider.

We debated over the order in which to watch them. All I cared about was seeing Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” and Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Dern has always been a favorite of mine and after seeing McConaughey in one romantic comedy after another, I was anxious to see what he could do with the true story role of a man with AIDS.

Both actors had been nominated for best actor awards and (secretly) I was rooting for Dern. But I needed to form a less-than-emotional opinion based on the men’s performances; not Dern’s age and body of work. That way, if McConaughey won, I could shout out that Dern had been robbed and back it up.

If you haven’t seen “Nebraska,” do. It’s a tender film, funny but sad, with am amazing cast. Eighty-four-year-old June Squibb, a nominee for best supporting actress, plays Dern’s wife.

When the film was finished, I told my husband Bruce Dern was no sentimental nominee. He deserved an Oscar.

We moved on to “Blue Jasmine,” the Woody Allen movie starring Cate Blanchett who everyone said would take home the best actress statuette. Again, a cast of characters so well written my husband and I were still talking about them the next day.

Then, it was time for “Dallas Buyers Club.” McConaughey lost nearly 40 pounds for this offering set in the 1980s. He plays Ron Woodruff, a rodeo cowboy and electrician with AIDS who smuggles drugs into this country so he and others living with the disease might live longer. Jared Leto, nominated for best supporting actor, is Rayon, a transgender woman with AIDS. My husband and I were left speechless by the performances of these two men.

This year’s Oscar production didn’t disappoint. From Ellen ordering pizza for hungry audience members to Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” during the tribute for members of the Academy who had passed away to the acceptances speeches, it was a spectacular night.

Next year, I’m going to add birthday cake to our menu. And suggest a new category to the academy: Best viewer. I think I’m a shoo-in.