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Host an Award-Winning 2016 Oscar Watch Party

The Academy Awards are the culmination of the year’s award season held, since 2001, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater. The prestigious awards ceremony is more commonly known as the Oscars for the coveted Aca­­­demy Award of Merit presented to its winners. The 8.5 pound gold-plated Oscar trophy features a knight holding a sword on a five-spoke film reel; each spoke of the reel represents an original branch of the Academy: Writers, Actors, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.


To be eligible for a nod from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, films must have at least a seven-day run in Los Angeles during the previous year. Viewed by several million each year, The Oscars make for one of those most-talked-about nights in television, which is why on February 28, 2016, you should host your own award-worthy Oscar Watch party by using some of the following ideas:

Nominations for Best Oscar Party Must-Haves

A truly fantastic Oscar party pays homage to the cinema-themed event in all of the right ways. This means rolling out the red carpet, mandating a fancy dress code, serving refreshments and cocktails that fit the occasion, and getting guests involved in the award-winning spirit.

Set the Scene

Just like any nominated film, having the right setting is essential for helping your guests to get into character. Get your home Oscar-ready with a few glamorous touches:

  • Roll out the red carpet for your star-studded guests to make their grand entrances
  • Set up a photo-op step and repeat backdrop complete with a life-size Oscar cut-out.
  • Color coordinate around classic Academy Award colors: red, black, white, and gold.

Also, decorate with info cards, photos, and trivia about some of the key 2016 nominees. Not only will this help set the scene for the party, it will also serve as a conversation piece and will help guests play “Winning Predictions” during the actual award show. Here are a few standout nominees and why they’re Oscar-worthy.

  • The Revenant: A Western-American adventure epic, The Revenant is a story of betrayal, vengeance, and murder set against an 1823 Louisiana Purchase backdrop. With 12 nominations, The Revenant stands out as the film with the most nods; a few key categories The Revenant is nominated for include:
    • Best Picture
    • Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DI Caprio)
    • Directing
    • Production Design
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: This futuristic action / adventure film about Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa’s heroic efforts to escape their world’s dominating cult leader merited 10 nominations including:
    • Best Picture
    • Visual Effects
    • Directing
    • Film Editing
  • Carol: An introspective drama based off of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, Carol is a period-piece set in the 1950s about Carol (Cate Blanchett) and the decision she must make between having custody of her beloved daughter or finding happiness with her lover, Theresa (Rooney Mara). Carol earned six nominations including:
    • Writing Adapted Screenplay
    • Actress in a Leading Role (Blanchett)
    • Music Original Score
  • The Big Short: Set in 2008, this movie tells the story of greed and corruption as Wall Street guru Michael Burry, banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), and hedge fund specialist Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) get rich on America’s fiscal downfall. The Big Short is nominated for:
    • Best Picture
    • Directing
    • Film Editing
  • Room: A dramatic thriller, Room is the story of a woman (Brie Larson) and her five-year old son’s return to freedom after five years in captivity. Room is nominated for:
    • Best Picture
    • Actress in a leading Role (Larson)
    • Directing

Just like the films nominated, a strong theme will make your party that much more memorable and award-worthy.  The theme can be anything from “Oscar Classic” in which guests arrive in their black-tie and ball-gown best to something more festive like dressing as their favorite nominated film character from either this year or from year’s passed.

Serve Food Worthy of Film

Needless to say, your soirée will need aperitifs and appetizers to keep guests sated as the good times roll. A few must-haves for your awards-show spread include:

  • Popcorn, because what movie-going experience is complete without popcorn? Consider making a variety of flavors and getting mini theater-style popcorn containers for serving.
  • Snack-able, classic movie theater candy that fits the event like red-carpet Twizzlers, black and white tie M&Ms, and golden mini Twix bars.
  • Make a DIY charcuterie bar with pickled, marinated bites including olives, string beans, and cheese. Serve alongside various cured meats like smoked chorizo and prosciutto. Put together a few samples and present them in a martini glass; guests can eat the charcuterie as-is or use it to garnish their gimlets.
  • Crudités that fit the theme…white cauliflower, sliced red peppers, golden hummus for dipping.
  • Simple sweets served at the first awards show: Vanilla and chocolate ice cream.

Break out the shimmering bubbly and gin or vodka to make the evening truly festive. Or you can add an element of panache and convenience by hiring a bartender to serve beverages as well as ice-cream to party-goers.

Making Your Party Its Own Awards Show

Once you have the setting, the menu, the guest list, and all of that jazz planned, you next need a plan for entertaining your guests (other than watching the Academy Awards, obviously). There’s no better way to get everyone into the award-party spirit than with a nominee- and Academy Award show-themed games in which guests can win prizes.

  • Best Costume Award: In this game, guests guess which character other guests are dressed up as and from what film. The best guesses wins a prize.
  • In-House Awards Ceremony: Let guests cast their ballots to award fellow guests prizes for “best costume,” “best couple,” “best unoriginal song,” etc. Guests can encourage the convened academy to vote for them with pre-vote speeches or karaoke songs. Announce winners throughout the night.
  • Winning Predictions: Pre-show, guests cast their votes for 2016 winners in various categories: Best Picture, Best Musical Score, Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, etc. Whoever has the most winning predictions at the end of the night receives the grand prize: a gift card for two to the swankiest movie theater in town, like Tacoma’s Century Point Ruston and XD Theatre, which offers a sate-of-the-art digital cinematic experience worthy of any celebrity with plush, recliners, jumbo cup holders, and stadium seating.

So, even though you’re not heading to the Academy Awards; with the right setting, theme, games, and prizes, you’ll have an awards party that your guests will want to give an Oscar for “Best Watch Party.”

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