This past Sunday’s 86th annual Oscars was a pleasant and entertaining, yet predictable show. Ellen DeGeneres hosted for the second time, and jokingly said it only took 7 years. She was a delightful host who succeeded at making the show engaging. Ellen was constantly in the crowd playing around with the stars. This really made the night more interactive. In fact, she made history with the most re-tweets in Twitter history (photo below). And it’s not every year a host can get celebs to eat pizza right in the middle an award show. Ellen amusingly wanted to feed the starving stars by ordering a few pies from LA’s famous Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria, only to later collect money from Harvey Weinstein and Brat Pitt to pay the tab.
Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey’s wins for Supporting Actor and Lead Actor, respectively, were the big stand outs of the night. Each played a role that was culturally timely and pushed the limits of acting. I think they both take home the title of ‘best acceptance speech’ also. It’s hard to believe a rock star and the man who brought us Failure to Launch could be Oscar winners but every year we see unlikely surprises. I don’t understand all the Leo DiCaprio sympathizers who think he deserved to win. While I agree he’s a great actor, his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street was in no way comparable to McConaughey’s portrayal of an AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club. Recently someone sarcastically joked, ‘Leo’s many roles playing a rich white guy is a far stretch from his real life.’
I was personally hoping Her would have won more awards but was glad to see Spike Jonze take home Original Screenplay. For all the hype American Hustle gathered over the months, it was happily surprising (for me) to see them with no wins. Gravity took home a few awards to for it’s excellence in technical fields like Best Director and Cinematography.
The Great Gatsby won awards for Costume Design and Production Design, although the film didn’t garner any recognition in acting and directional work. Lupita Nyong’o won for Supporting Actress which was really no big surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy. As an alumnus of Yale University School of Drama, Lupita moved us not only with her acting in 12 Years a Slave but her real-life poise and heroism. Bill Murray’s impromptu and off-the- record tribute to the late Harold Ramis was a great treat as well. Those unexpected moments are what I enjoy and remember the most.
All four nominees for Original Song performed, which really added entertainment value to the show. Otherwise we’d just be looking at John Travolta’s horrible head of hair and Leonardo DiCaprio’s sour face. Most the performances were beautifully sung, but Pink’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” paying tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz really blew everyone else out of the water. Surprisingly the worst performance was the actual winner, Idina Menzel’s “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. I think she was just having an off night. Menzel was great on Glee, but last night was not her best work. Bette Midler made an unexpected yet welcoming appearance singing her classic Beaches song “Wing Beneath My Wings” following the in memoriam video.
The big award of the night went to 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture. While I don’t think it was best picture worthy, I do agree that it was the standout film of 2013. It surpassed all other nominees in depth of acting and range of content. Overall another great year in movies. Let’s see what this year has in store for us. Make sure to follow me at @MattMovieGuy for more reviews and maybe we can shut down Twitter again.