Prep for the Oscars with a movie-watching date

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As parents in our wonderful small town, it’s rare that we get to see every movie we want to see. It’s even rarer to be that person who has seen every Academy Award-nominated film before the Oscar telecast. For this winter edition of Mom & Dad’s Date Night, accept a challenge to watch them all before the show airs on March 2. Too much? Perhaps try to see them all before the onslaught of spring sports and activities begin in April. Consider it a bonus: This has the potential to actually be nine date nights!

Many of these are still in local theaters. As I write this, “Nebraska” is still playing at the Grand Cinemas here in town. “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Wolf of Wall Street” are still playing in Tri-Cities. “Captain Phillips” was released on DVD in January, and “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity” and “Nebraska” came out in February. This provides a nice mix of in-town, out-of-town and at-home viewing.

Chances are, you saw “Gravity” early last fall. In all likelihood, you watched Sandra Bullock’s breathtaking performance with every muscle clenched to brace for whatever disaster would strike next. Bradley Cooper’s teeny-tiny curls and Christian Bale’s comb-over probably lured you to the theater for “American Hustle” before the holidays. That leaves seven films to go.

Given the speed with which high-quality but low-volume films cycle out of the local theater, start with “Nebraska” here in Walla Walla. Bruce Dern gives a Best-Actor-caliber performance as an aging father who travels from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son to pick up a sweepstakes prize that may or may not exist. This one’s easy to check off with an after-work date on a weeknight.

Next up: another weeknight date at home. Get the kids to bed, pop some popcorn and snuggle up on the couch to watch Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips.” Even with the ending known in advance, the suspense and the battle of wills between the two captains make this movie edge-of-your-seat viewing.

The next date requires serious commitment: driving over to the Tri-Cities on a weekend and spending the full day in the theater. (Showtimes at ubne.ws/1oSXx6N.) No Costco trip. No stopping at the mall. No eating at the Italian or Chinese chains. Sacrifice is required to meet this goal! Leaving in time to make the first showing will allow for a movie, a break for lunch, then one or two more before grabbing a quick bite for dinner and heading home.

The remaining films will soon be available on DVD or online for easy viewing able on DVD or online for easy viewing at home. So maybe you won’t be able to see them all before the big show in March. You’ll still have plenty to discuss and dissect with your partner, and several date nights in which to do it.

Jennifer Northam is assistant director of alumni relations at Whitman College. She can be reached at 526-4794 or here.

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