Despite the few hiccups, I was able to watch this year's Oscars live. I didn't sleep, watched them early morning and it was raining here too. Anyways, it's always nice to see your favorite actors playing "dress up" and "guess the designer" on the red carpet while you nervously await for the actual ceremony to start. What I wished the most for this year beside the winners and losers was for it to be unlike the previous ceremony. I was underwhelmed by Seth MacFarlane as a host but his humor which I am used to didn't feel much flat. What I wanted here was less musical performances which overtook the entire thing last year, more delightful humor, for the host to keep it going smoothly and good pacing overall. The 86th Annual Academy Awards ceremony didn't disappoint me at all. I had a blast and liked almost everything about it. Ellen DeGeneres did a pretty good job as a host. The best thing about her is that even when she isn't hilarious, somehow she keeps it fun and joyful. And that she is actually a host, she knows how to handle it all. The pacing this time was really good unlike last year. The presentation for the nominees which I always look forward to was quite beautiful. The song performances never felt out-of-place or too much. The winners were very satisfying.
There was no big opening number but Ellen made jokes about actors and some films. Some good, some not so good. Though I love how she included slavery in her jokes routine which some people thought would be offensive. Ellen said:
"We should get started. It's going to be an exciting night. Anything can happen, so many different possibilities. Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists. And now please welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway."
If I can first talk about the winners... Gravity winning most of the awards (7 without winning picture) was inevitable but not disappointing. 12 Years a Slave won picture and 2 other awards. The situation here was pretty much like how it was back in 1972 when Cabaret won the most awards but it was The Godfather that won the main one. I was disappointed at The Act of Killing not winning but that some of us feared would happen. Spike Jonze won for Her which meant everything to me as you all know. The acting prizes were given to reasonable choices. Cate Blanchett got the buzz from early on for her mind-blowing performance and I was so pleased to see her get the award. The two guys from Dallas Buyers Club were locked to win as well. Interesting how one of them had a pretty, somewhat, sort of, a non-existent acting career while the other have done some highly quality work in the past two or three years. Both their performances were very good even though I would have given it to other actors but that is beside the point. However, the acting win (or actually any win) that really got me screaming, crying and jumping with joy was seeing Lupita Nyong'o win her deserving supporting actor award. 12 Years a Slave was her feature debut, she performed like no other, she made the character her own and gave both a powerful performance and a highly sensitive turn. What is more amazing is how she took all of this. In every interview, every speech that she gave, Lupita came off as an honest and down to earth person. Her speech here was the best of the best. I hardly remember crying during the awards for a winner but I did here. The moment her name was announced, there was this huge rush of cheers and everybody started hugging and kissing her. The expressions on her face between all of this, a mix of surprise, shock, delight and bafflement got me teary eyed. How she was looking at the stage as she was making her way up in that gorgeous dress, almost fairytale moment. And her heartfelt, honest and beautiful speech never came off as rehearsed or anything that consisted of words and emotions that came right from her heart. And that inspiring finish...
"When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child, that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."
Another win that meant a lot to me was seeing the master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki win for Gravity. He should have won at least 3 Oscars by now. The Tree of Life loss was a big shame.
For the nominated songs performances, the surprise of the night was how groovy and generally involved, Pharrell Williams got us with "Happy". Not just Lupita, Meryl Streep or Amy Adams or those lovely kids but I guess we all started dancing along to that. Somehow, I look at that song differently now. It doesn't seem ordinary anymore. Speaking of ordinary, that U2 song... as much as it is from a film about somebody who I've always respected, was plain ordinary and nothing else. I am glad it didn't win unlike the Globes where it won because 'U2'. The performance itself felt really awkward to me. As for my favorite song, Karen O performed beautifully on "The Moon Song". You can't dance on that but it was a lovely sight for a beautiful song. What really broke my heart was that Idina Menzel performance for the powerful song "Let it Go". That slip in the final note was devastating. I've heard Menzel sing many times and she has such fabulous vocals and I really like her. So I was disappointed for what should have been a performance to remember. As for other musical performances, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" performed by P!nk for The Wizard of Oz 75th anniversary tribute was superb. It is a song that I consider one of the best movie songs ever made. Despite some slight problems in timing, I was impressed by how well P!nk performed. It is Oscars tradition that they just have a song performance for the tributes and nothing else so Judy Garland's children were invited but just for standing up and clapping in the end! The performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings" by the lovely Bette Midler was... nice? It was played post-In Memoriam section. The song itself didn't get me emotional as much as seeing the pictures of those wonderful people from the film fraternity that left us. We lost so many talented people, they have contributed a lot for the films and we will always remember them.
The best gag of the night wasn't really a gag but it involved a selfie. Yes, a selfie. Ellen took one with Liza Minnelli first but then she turned back to Meryl Streep and started to call literally all the actors she could find around her. And before you could know it, there were a bunch of actors posing for a selfie that Bradley Cooper took from Ellen's phone and it was just a joy to watch. Ellen knows how to involve the audience, both there and here. And she was tweeting things too during ceremony so her Twitter post of this selfie broke the most retweeted record previously held by Barack Obama's post-election celebratory picture.
There was also a gag that involved Ellen ordering pizzas for actors. It was a cute thing. It might have felt repetitive but that was due to its nature. She asked them first but that felt like a joke. Then the pizzas actually came, brought by a delivery boy who is obviously famous now. Ellen started giving pizzas to all the actors she could find. It was a hilarious sight unlike any. Actors eating pizza during the Oscars???? That wasn't it of course, Ellen then returned to collect tips and they all gave her what they could. Funny stuff!
"You showed us something in that film that I have not seen for a very, very long time."
- Lupita Nyong'o
- Matthew McConaughey + Jared Leto
- Steve McQueen + Alfonso Cuaron
- Cate Blanchett
- "Please welcome the Wicked-ly talent, the one and only… Adele Dazeem!" REALLY????? John Travolta? Well there are tons of jokes about that already on the Internet. Poor Idina Menzel!
- Kim Novak (the announcement I mean, I have nothing bad to say about her appearance)
- Harrison Ford... was he... I don't know... on drugs?
- Honorary Oscars clips... now that is what you call 'speeches'.
- Mr. Sidney Poiteir + Angelina Jolie
- Frozen composer Robert Lopez completed his sticker series... I mean EGOT (Emmy-Oscar-Grammy-Tony). But his speech with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez was very cute. The rhyming thank-yous.
- Will Smith presenting best picture Oscar fresh from his Razzie victory.
- 20 Feet from Stardom's Darlene Love singing an a cappella rendition of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" during the speech. Nothing against singing or her but you know... I was pissed about The Act of Killing so!!!
- All those hero montages!!
The WOAH! facts:
- American Hustle joins movies like Gangs of New York and True Grit for 0 wins on 10 nominations. The record is actually 11 nominations held by The Color Purple and The Turning Point.
- American Hustle of course, The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Philomena etc didn't win anything!
- Cate Blanchett is the 19th multi-Oscar winning actress (40th overall) and the 12th performer to have now won, a lead and a supporting Oscar.
- 12 Years a Slave is the 22nd Best Picture to not win Best Director. And its the first time since 1951-1952 that for two consecutive years, the picture-director split happened.
- Alfonso Cuaron is the first Mexican to win Best Director.
- John Ridley is the second black person to win an Oscar in the writing category.
GRADING THE OSCARS:-
Musical Performances: B+
Production Design: B+
Nominees Presentation: A-