I actually had fun watching the Oscars last night! They seem to have trimmed some of the awards that the bulk of the audience has never heard of, they kept the performances simpler, also saving time, and I don’t think anybody got played off for excessively long speeches! (If they did, it was only for a moment.)
Ellen was a fun host as well. The show was sort of an extension of her show, with her getting into the audience, even taking the most retweeted selfie of all time with a bunch of the nominees, ordering pizza, and taking donations. The jokes were pretty decent, too. They didn’t all land, but overall, well-written.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
The only thing I thought was a little strange was the Oscar statue forest on stage. The lightbulb design behind the stage was cool, but the human-sized Oscar statue clusters were a little creepy.
Also, this was the first year that I hadn’t seen any of the big performances that were nominated. I have yet to see Gravity, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue Jasmine, and most of the others. I’m blaming the scheduling. Most of these came out late 2013, and I see way more movies during the summer, when my schedule is lighter, than in the fall and winter. I’m also blaming funding. It’s expensive to go to the movies so often, even if I do hit the matinee, and none of these are out on video yet.
I was very pleased to see that Elmore Leonard was included in the memorial section. He was mainly a fiction writer, but he contributed plenty of screenplays to television and film as well, in addition to many of his books being made into movies. I’m glad that the Academy saw fit to include him. I think I can speak for his fans when I say that means a lot.
It was also awesome to see Sydney Poitier. He is not moving very well, and Angelina Jolie practically dragged him to the microphone – not cool, lady, that guy is a bigger contributor to the film world than you will ever be – but when he spoke, he was as elegant and poignant as ever.
Some highlights from the winners:
Gravity, Gatsby (shocker!), and The Dallas Buyers Club were the big winners. Gatsby won two Oscars for costume and production design, which may have been deserved, even if those were the only categories it was worthy of. Gravity won everything, pretty much, except acting and writing – director, sound mixing and editing, original score, editing, and cinematography.
Dallas Buyers Club was the big acting winner, with best supporting and best actor awards going to Jared Leto and Matthew McConnaughey. Jared Leto’s speech was awesome. McConnaughey’s was a little pompous, a little egotistical (not as bad as his Golden Globes one), but the man looked like a movie star. You see footage from a young Kirk Douglas, actors like that from Hollywood’s “Golden Age”, and how they looked at awards ceremonies and winning Academy Awards, and McConnaughey would fit right in with them.
12 Years a Slave won the night’s big award, best picture, and though Steve McQueen (director) was very gracious accepting the award on behalf of the crew and cast, the jump for joy after such a moving speech condemning slavery’s history and its modern-day presence around the world seemed a little out of place. Not judging or saying he didn’t mean what he said, but just mentioning, it struck me as a little inappropriate, and perhaps something he should have done backstage.
I was a little sad that U2 didn’t win for the best song, but I’m biased. I didn’t see Frozen, either, but another Disney winner for best animated feature doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Cate Blanchett (best actress, Blue Jasmine) sure got up on her soap box! Not that she wasn’t justified, but I was a little surprised. She thanked her family, Woody Allen, and a bunch of other people, but she sent out a personal message, directed at the studios, I think, pointing out that movies with female leads not only can win the big awards, but they can also bring in the big bucks (Gravity is one example of that, at the least).
There has been a lot of talk the past year about movies still being dominated by men, both on-screen and behind the scenes, despite the incredible list of A-grade actresses and female talent to choose from right now. I think Blanchett was referring to that, and demanding that the studios grow a pair and finance more movies with women in leading roles and hire more women to help make those movies. It’s not an unreasonable request. It will be a slow change, I’m sure, but I think the industry will benefit from it.
Abridged Winners’ List
Best picture: 12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
Best performance by an actor in a leading role: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best performance by an actress in a leading role: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Achievement in directing: Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron
Original screenplay: Her, Spike Jonze
Adapted screenplay: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley
Achievement in cinematography: Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best animated feature: Frozen
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): “Let It Go” from Frozen; Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
For a complete list of winners, the Oscars’ website has a very nice page linking to trailers and showing a slideshow of images from the nominees and winners.
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