2014: An Oscar Commentary

Well, here we are again, almost too tired to be happy about the final outcome, but at least content. This is the year that I begin to despair that the people behind the Oscars will ever figure out how to turn the awards ceremony into compelling television. I liked DeGeneres as a host, overall. Certainly she was better (and the show was better) than last year’s obnoxious MacFarlane catastrophe. But it was also bland and dull to the nth degree.

I detected far fewer attempts to appeal to a younger audience, which is always obnoxious, but also very little spontaneity. I mean, the point of spontaneity is that you can’t plan it in advance, but they couldn’t seem to get anyone up on the stage who was entertaining. And no, John Travolta butchering Idina Menzel’s name doesn’t count.

If I’m calculating this correctly, we’ve got 7 wins for Gravity, 3 wins for 12 Years a Slave, 3 wins for Dallas Buyers Club, 2 wins for Frozen, 2 wins for The Great Gatsby, and 1 win apiece for Blue Jasmine and Her. That’s a total shut-out for 5 of the Best Picture nominees. American Hustle is the biggest loser, with 0 out of 10 wins, but PhilomenaCaptain PhillipsNebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street all departed empty-handed. I suspect history will judge the Academy the most harshly over that last.

The awards I’m most upset about are Her‘s win for screenplay and Gravity‘s win for score. I’d have liked to see 12 Years a Slave take  both of the awards that went to Gatsby, and at least a few of the awards that went to Gravity, but the important thing was that it be recognized as the Best Picture.

Anyway, I haven’t got much more to say this year. The lackluster energy of the show has left me similarly unenthusiastic, so I’ll leave it at this. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled film year.

Okay, here we go. Another year, another Oscar broadcast. Ellen DeGeneres hosting . . . I enjoyed the last time she hosted, back in 2007, so I’m excited to see her take another crack at it!

Best Supporting Actor: Anne Hathaway leads off with an early, predictable win for Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Great, great performance, though not my favorite. I’d have been as happy to see the award go to any of the other nominees. An exceptionally strong category this year!

Jim Carrey introduces a montage of animated films that’s . . . actually pretty mediocre. And only reminds me that Pixar wasn’t nominated for anything this year. Kind of a fail there, but Carrey was funny!

And now Pharrell is performing his infectiously toe-tapping “Happy.” I will say I would not be un-Happy if it won, but it’s not what I’m expecting or hoping to see take the award.

Best Costumes: Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson give the award to The Great Gatsby, which was certainly a gorgeous film. I was hoping for some early momentum for 12 Years a Slave here, but that was probably a long shot.

Best Make-up: Same duo pass this one out to Dallas Buyers Club, and everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief that the award didn’t go to Bad Grandpa. Thank. Goodness.

Harrison Ford emerges to the strains of the ever-classic Indiana Jones theme, and introduces three of the Best Picture nominees: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street. Bit of a let-down when he’s followed by Channing Tatum to introduce the winners of this “Team Oscar” thing that I only half paid attention to before the show. He seems a little freaked out.

Best Animated Short: Matthew McConaughey and Kim Novak announce for “Mr. Hublot” which I did not see, but would love to see! Novak sounds like 8 decades of cigarettes . . . but I can’t say anything bad about her. No way.

Best Animated Feature: And a very deserving win for Frozen! I did not get to see The Wind Rises, which I’m bitter about, but of the ones I’ve seen, this was definitely the most deserving film.

Best Visual Effects: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Watson are out to give a very predictable (and, yes, deserved) win to Gravity. It is the first of the Best Picture front-runners to pick up an award.

Zac Efron emerges to introduce . . . “The Moon Song” was it? Whatever. The song from Her. My least favorite song nominee from my least favorite Best Picture nominee. Actually, it’s not even a bad song, I just *really* hated that movie.

Best Live-Action Short/Documentary: Kate Hudson and Jason Sudekis come out to announce the live-action shorts, none of which I have seen, as usual. The winner is “Helium,” which I know nothing about except that the one person I know who saw all of the nominees really disliked it. Documentary short goes to “The Lady in Number 6,” which was certainly not hard to predict. I’d actually like to see that one.

Best Documentary: Bradley Cooper emerges to (for some reason) strains of the “To Kill a Mockingbird” theme. For the first time ever, I’ve seen all 5 nominees in this category. Still have no idea which way it will go . . . but now way more invested and thrilled at the win by 20 Feet from Stardom.

Best Foreign Film: Viola Davis and Ewan McGregor are here to do foreign film . . . I didn’t manage to see any of these nominees, although I could have seen 3, so fail on me. Not real happy with the winner (The Great Beauty), though. I was hoping for The Hunt, though I won’t know if that hope was justified until I see it in the next day or two.

Tyler Perry pops out to talk about a few more of the Best Picture nominees: Nebraska, Her, and Gravity. Yay! Boo! . . . Yay Boo!

Kristen Bell and Michael B. Jordan are summarizing the technical awards for us . . . So that’s happening. I feel like we’re pretty far into the show by this point and I’m still waiting for something to happen. Anything would do. Spontaneity is at an an all-time low . . .

Best Sound/Sound Editing: Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth are announcing the sound awards. Both go to Gravity. I was kind of hoping one would go to Inside Llewyn Davis, but I wasn’t really expecting it.

Best Supporting Actress: Christoph Waltz, who always looks so happy. And why shouldn’t he, I guess? The award goes to Lupita Nyong’o! So happy! I hope this turns out to be a major turning point in the show. Awesome speech. Best speech of the night so far. Only remotely decent speech of the night so far, even.

Best Cinematography: Amy Adams and Bill Murray are here to announce Best Cinematography, always one of my favorite categories. It’s another win for Gravity, which was pretty much always a lock for the technical awards, because that’s basically all this movie is. A technical achievement, not so much an artistic achievement. I’m definitely ready to move on to something else winning.

Best Editing: Gabourey Sidibe and Anna Kendrick are here to give us our first good indicator of how the Best Picture race will swing. The award goes to . . . Gravity. Oh. No. This is a bad, bad sign.

Pink is singing the ever-popular “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while a 75th anniversary Wizard of OZ montage plays behind her, while my last hope that anything interesting will happen in this show. At least we still have 2 song nominees left to hear. Wish we were listening to one of them now.

Best Production Design: Jennifer Garner and Benedict Cumberbatch, a dynamic duo if ever there was one, pop out to give this award to The Great Gatsby. The Academy didn’t like very many things about this movie, but what they liked, they loved.

I zoned out for a bit there . . . I don’t think I missed anything, but now I can’t remember. Glenn Close is introducing the poignant “In Memoriam” segment. Which means this is probably a bad time for me to point out that the show is supposed to be getting fairly close to the end, and . . . it isn’t remotely close. Someone needs to do something, because this is going to take all night. And they follow up the montage with Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which should have happened during the montage. Ah, well.

Another commercial break, and Goldie Hawn is here to announce the final three Best Picture nominees: Philomena, Captain Phillips, and 12 Years a Slave.

Thrilled to see Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go.” That song is totally going to win.

Best Original Score: Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx are here to let the world know that Thomas Newman has lost again. I kind of love how Jamie Foxx is doing “Chariots of Fire” in the background while Jessica Biel talks. This is another of my favorite categories. It goes to Gravity. I’m so mad. I’m mad that it’s winning so many awards, and I’m especially mad that it won this one. Boo.

Best Original Song: Yep. It totally won. And the winners’ speech was charming and hilarious and adorable, just like all of their songs! Love it.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro. Lots of great work in this category, but I’m particularly pleased to see 12 Years a Slave finally get some more traction tonight. It’s been pretty grim so far, but I’ll take what I can get. On a side-note, where the heck did that wall of typewriters come from?

Best Original Screenplay: So mad about Her winning that I have nothing more to say about this category.

Best Director: Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poitier are announcing this one. If there were any justice in the universe, Steve McQueen would win this, but I can’t begrudge Alfonso Cuaron this win, because he is awesome.

Best Actress: Daniel Day-Lewis is announcing the best actress, which will surely be Cate Blanchett. Yep. Totally is. Fantastic work, well-deserved win!

Best Actor: Jennifer Lawrence is announcing. This should go to Leonardo DiCaprio (or Chiwetel Ejiofor, obviously), but it’s Matthew McConaughey’s year. Right? Right. To be fair, he made some amazing choices this year, and did some fabulous work. The only surprises left in this show are bad ones, so let’s get this over with . . .

Best Picture: Will Smith, winner of three Razzies this year, has the honor of announcing this award, and all of my concerns prove to be unfounded when 12 Years a Slave wins after all. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the Academy wanted to give this award to Gravity, but felt obligated not to. Well, whatever the reason, the right movie won this year.

~ by Jared on March 2, 2014.

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