How my Oscar obsession began
by Jodi Berman
The year was 1974. I was 4, almost 5. I knew something special was happening because my family never ate dinner in front of the TV, and that night we did. My mother prepared a little buffet on the kitchen table of deli meats and Tab soda, and we picnicked in our family room to watch the 1974 Oscars broadcast.
I remember the show primarily because Tatum O’Neil won an Oscar, and she didn’t look much older than me. My dad loved the movies The Sting and The Paper Chase (a movie that would later become one of my favorites of all time), both of which earned recognition that night.
And that’s how my Oscars obsession began, in a small living room in Pacific Palisades, hovering over a pastrami sandwich, and celebrating cinema.
I had already begun my love affair with movies when my mom took me to my first, Bedknobs and Broomsticks with Angela Lansbury. My parents were avid movie-goers and movie lovers, and they instilled the love of storytelling and performance in me. I had my family watch and clap as I accepted my Oscar, and my mom would yell, “you better thank me first!”
Each year, the buffet fare was different – sometimes deli meats, sometimes fancier fun. But each year, it was a big deal and my family was always together in front of that TV.
Over time, we all developed our own favorite parts of the show. My dad starting calling the “In Memoriam” section of the broadcast “The Necrology Report.” We never attended Oscar parties because people talked during the speeches; some of us cried during the speeches. Joan Rivers started asking, “who are you wearing?” and we watched earlier and earlier in the day.
We started handing out ballots and competing for who could guess the winners the most accurately. That’s when everything changed – I started running around town from the day the nominees were announced and tried to see every movie with a nomination so I could be the strongest competitor. (I mean every movie with a nomination, no matter how big or how small, no matter if it had 10 nominations or 1.) I soaked it all up, and my passion for movies, storytelling, and the Oscars became known among my friends. I found films I never would have seen if not for their nominations, and discovered a love for documentaries, thanks to the International Documentary Association’s DocuDay, which I have attended for the last 15 years or so.
As I reflect on what makes this season so special for me, it comes down to two things. First, I love movies. I love stories, I love costume and effects and production design and an amazing score. And I love what happens when all of those elements come together. Second, I love my family. The Oscars represent a time each year when we come together, coo at the fashion, debate the value of the stories in our lives, and revel in the ability that you storytellers have to touch us on the deepest levels. And, I love sitting in front of the TV, pastrami sandwich in hand, and wait to hear those magic words, “And the Oscar goes to…”
To read more of “And The Oscar Goes To…” stories, please click below:
Oscar’s hidden gems
5 lovable Oscar losers
War and the Oscars: A love story
The most memorable Oscar speeches
The Oscars are coming! The Oscars are coming!