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Dinner and a movie. It’s simple, it’s affordable, and it’s totally predictable. While this simple combo is a pretty iconic American date night, I’m not normally a fan of dates that involve spending half your time quiet and in the dark.

But this weekend is different. Around the end of February every year, Hollywood ramps up the glitz and glam, rolls out the red carpet and hands out Academy Awards to the best movies of the year. For some, watching the Oscars is an opportunity to gawk at red-carpet gowns, listen to touching acceptance speeches or laugh at the antics of the bumbling host (this year it’s Seth MacFarlane, creator of “The Family Guy,” and last summer’s hit movie “Ted”).

For others, the hype about the Oscars isn’t about catching the second-most-watched TV event of the year (after the Super Bowl), it’s a reminder to seek out the best recent flicks and enjoy them on the big screen before they disappear into the depths of the nearest Redbox.

If you’re not interested in watching stars strutting the red-carpet, use Oscar night as an excuse to catch last year’s must-see films with your lady. If you’re into watching the awards show itself (which airs at 5 p.m. this Sunday on ABC), make an event out of it and join in on one of the viewing opportunities around town.

Always wanted to sneak into a theater for a full day of watching movies? Well, you don’t actually have to sneak in. Boulder’s Century Theater in the 29th Street Mall (1700 29th St; has an Oscar Marathon this Saturday. For $30, you can spend the entire day on a roller coaster of cinema-fueled emotions courtesy of the best-picture nominees. The five-movie series starts with suspenseful hostage story “Argo” at 1 p.m.; the twisted love tale of “Silver Linings Playbook” runs at 3:20 p.m., then true-story-inspired “Zero Dark Thirty” at 5:30 p.m., finishing up with Quentin Tarantino’s gory period romance “Django Unchained” at 8:20 p.m. The tickets are a deal, even if you sneak out for dinner and miss one of the shows (grab a pizza from Laudisio Italian Restaurant during “Zero Dark Thirty” if you want to keep your date’s mood upbeat).

For an even more schizophrenic roller-coaster of films — delightfully funny, weirdly sinister, and super-romantic — hit up one of this weekend’s showings of the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts courtesy of the campus-based International Film Series. (Fri., Sat., and Sun., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Muenzinger Auditorium; The eight-film lineup is an 88-minute program, and may be your only opportunity to see these lesser-known, but equally brilliant Oscar contenders. While the six-show program will ensure that a lot of folks can catch the super-popular program, line up well before show time to get a ticket ($6 with your CU ID, general admission is $7).

If you’d like to actually watch the awards show — maybe you’ve already seen all the nominated flicks — head to the Dairy Center for the Arts for their Academy Awards Party (5 p.m.; $20 for members, $30 for nonmembers; 2590 Walnut St.; The big-screen broadcast of the show is casual, but there will be heavy hous d’oeuvres, a glass of champagne, an award-guessing contest (with prizes!), and even a red carpet. If you want an excuse to dress up, opt for the Annual Oscar Party at Mateo, instead (1837 Pearl St.; Your $35 ticket gets you entry to the dress-to-impress party along with complementary drinks and apps at the upscale, French-inspired eatery.

Kristy Holland writes about dating once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date-night ideas at