We’ve all spent the past year sheltered from those cinematic masterpieces with limited releases in New York and L.A., forced to venture into our small-town Multiplex with its endless array of mediocre teen comedies

By Gus Bode

You should’ve seen it

We’ve all spent the past year sheltered from those cinematic masterpieces with limited releases in New York and L.A., forced to venture into our small-town Multiplex with its endless array of mediocre teen comedies.

Now it’s time for the Hollywood hobnobs to set us straight and dish out awards

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to those films we should’ve seen but didn’t because they weren’t playing within a 30-mile radius. You may not have heard of these films, but trust the Academy, they’re better than those movies you saw this year.

Now, Oscar night takes planning, not just for the stars and execs, but for viewers like you. An Oscar-goer (this includes the typical mid-American college student watching the show from the safety of the couch) should treat the event with the reverence it deserves. For some odd reason, the tradition of glamming up for the Oscars has become pop culture normalcy.

Personally, I think the whole event simply came about because a lot of girls wanted

another reason to break out their senior prom dresses, I could be wrong. Guys grab a snazzy tie and the cleanest-looking shirt on your floor and play C-list celebrity. The Oscar party is on. Now all you have to do is pour the champagne and pretend you’re knowledgeable in film, based on the previews they showed in the theater before you saw “Daredevil.”

So, what can we expect from this year’s extravaganza? Who’s walking away

with R.S. Owens statuettes (aka Oscars)? They say we all learn from our mistakes. Example:”Titanic” won Best Picture at 1997’s Academy Awards. Hindsight is always 20/20, so let’s strap on our beer goggles and peer into the future. Russell Crowe has starred in the Best Picture winner for the past two years (“Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind”) but was apparently too wrapped up in marriage plans to make another good movie. This leaves the field open.

First of all, most Best Picture winners are high-profile films – this leaves “The Pianist” and “The Hours” out. Every one to two years a big, full-scale production takes the cake. I’m going with “Chicago” on this one, although “Lord of the Rings” enthusiasts will tell you it would be an injustice for “Two Towers” to lose. Plus, Martin Scorsese’s been campaigning like a politician for “Gangs of New York” votes. We’ll see where that gets him.

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I like the fact that both of Leonardo DiCaprio’s films are up for numerous

Oscars, and yet Leo didn’t get a purposeful Oscar acknowledgement. His “Gangs of NY”co-star, Daniel Day-Lewis has a very good shot at Best Actor, and Christopher Walken’s “Catch Me If You Can” performance deserves the Best Supporting Actor award. I would also love to see Queen Latifah win Best Supporting Actress for “Chicago.” Latifah, who just turned 33 on Tuesday, was best known for her role as Khadijah James on “Living Single.”Her new movie, “Bringing Down the House” with Steve Martin, has been No. 1 at the box office for two weeks in a row. She’s also a rap artist, and I root for those multi-talented people.

Speaking of good ol’ Steve Martin, he’s hosting these Academy Awards, so really, if these nominations don’t interest you in the slightest, you can at least tune in for the first fifteen minutes of the show and expect it to be funny.

You can also make the night financially lucrative. Get your friends to agree to give you a quarter every time somebody on the show mentions war with Iraq. Prediction – You’ll be rich by the end of the night with all those impassioned movie stars speaking their piece about foreign affairs.

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