Oscar 2014: Post-Mortem

E: At 8:20 Eastern Standard Time last night, I had just finished artistically arranging a plate of chocolate covered strawberries.  My husband was gathering the fixings to mix me a cocktail, and I was busily trading red carpet commentary with friends on Facebook.  And then a transformer blew right next to my house.

Yes.  That’s right.  After obsessing about them for essentially the entire year, I lost power ten minutes before the Oscars started.  I literally stood for a few moments wondering what kind of cosmic joke that was.

Happily, I was able to call a local friend and hoof it over to her house (with the strawberries, minus the cocktail) and basically only missed Ellen’s monologue.  And the night went exactly as I expected, down to each category I casually guessed at at the bottom.  In fact, the only win you could even remotely call a surprise might be “Mr. Hublot” for best animated short over the very popular fourth wall breaking classic Mickey Mouse “Get a Horse!”.  So really, there’s almost nothing to say about that; it turned out to be such a predictable year that really all I have to congratulate myself on is not getting panicky and picking something outrageous on the theory that it couldn’t really all go exactly as expected.  Because guess what?  It can.

So anyway, that’s enough about me. I’ll just give a little rundown of the show, then, shall I?

Ellen’s monologue (which I just got to watch on youtube) was amusing and unoffensive; I enjoyed it very much, although I don’t know that I’ll remember any of it by the end of the day.  I was really touched by Jared Leto’s acceptance speech, especially his tribute to his mother which I also just caught on Youtube (having joined the show mid-way through his speech).  He was classy, thoughtful and still so pretty that I feel very mean spirited wishing he’d done something a little better with his hair.

Pharrell Williams and his Montie hat added the largest amount of pep the show would see in his exuberant rendition of “Happy.”  I loved seeing him dancing in the audience – Lupita and Amy Adams, you’ve got moves! – and then pulling up folks to dance on stage.  I noticed Jaime Foxx’s now grown up daughter and Kate Hudson rocking it out with the dancers.  I liked the rose backdrop, but maybe not so much the light bulb ones; I think generally that the staging was uninspiring (a wall of type writers?  really?) , although I did enjoy the patterns on the actual stage floor.

The theme of the night was heroism, but I couldn’t help noticing the difference between the “quiet heroism” and the “hero’s journey” montages – chiefly that quiet heroes like Gandhi and Norma Rae get Oscars, and journeying heroes like Spiderman and Captain America don’t.  Interesting.  Sally Fields looked stunning, while I’m sorry to say Hitchcock’s muse Kim Novak (presenting animation with Bradley Cooper) looked like a plastic nightmare out of the Twilight Zone.  Please do not do such things to yourselves, women of Hollywood!

I was momentarily distracted from the complete adorableness that was Joseph Gordon Leavitt and Emma Watson when they announced the Effects Nominees; I misheard Star Trek Into Darkness nominee Pat Tubach as Pat Tuvak, and was immediately thrilled that a crew member had an actual Vulcan name.  I’m not gonna lie, I’m bummed that’s not his real name.

For me, one of the most touching moments of the night was seeing the documentary The Lady in Number 6 and hearing about 110 year old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer, who died a week ago.  I’m now determined to see that movie as well as the live action short, Helium.  (Most years I get to see a large number of the shorts, but I got too sucked into the Olympics this time.  Ah well.)  And I can’t wait to check out 20 Feet From Stardom; how great was Darlene Love belting out “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” a capella?  Loved it.

What I’ll remember about Ellen’s hosting isn’t her monologue, but the funny bits she started from the audience – the selfie with half the top nominees (and Lupita Nyong’o’s photobombing brother) and of course the pizza.  She got a lot of leverage out of that pizza – asking if they wanted it, dragging the pizza guy on stage, distributing it, then later collecting easily two or three times the money needed for it.  Too funny.  I think my favorite part was the alacrity with which the incredibly pregnant Kerry Washington stuck her hand in the air when Ellen asked who was hungry.

Was anyone else blown away by presenting duo of Teutonic perfection, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron?  I want to make jokes about Nazi eugenics programs, but I keep thinking that’s too rude?

Moving on, Lupita Lupita Lupita!  I love her stifled cry, I love her gorgeous British accent (sort of confusing for someone raised in Mexico, Kenya and America), I love her graciousness, I just love her everything.  “Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with the breath of your own spirit” – she’s just so articulate!  Awesome.  Those images of her joy coming from others’ pain, of the death surrounding McQueen in gratitude?  So good.  “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”  Happy sigh.

Though it’s not really accurate to call the Oscars the Superbowl for Women, it’s still cool to see companies making an effort with good advertising.  I like the Pepsi Mini commercial with all the movie quotes, Google’s “How to Tell a Story,” and the Facebook Movie for Modern Family (even though I don’t watch the show).  What I did not like was having to sit through “The Wind Beneath My Wings” – the worst song of the 1980s.  There’s a lot of competition for that dubious distinction, but for me, it’s no contest.  You had Bette Midler and that was the best you could do?  We didn’t even have the In Memoriam slides to watch while she sang it.  UGH.

Speaking of singers, why did John Travolta think Idina Menzel’s name was Adele Dazine?  Who’s going to get fired over that one, I wonder?  Love Ellen for repeating Idina’s real name several times to make sure we all got it.  Of course I’m happy the song won, and I loved the adorable married duo of Avenue Q scribe and EGOT winner Robert and Kristin Anderson Lopez, giving their acceptance in rhyme and then getting all teary about their daughters.  Tell me, do you think it’s a coincidence that these two have daughters named (Kiss me) Kate and Annie?  Sounds like a family made on Broadway. Anyway, big points for the funny and the cute.

John Ridley was super intense accepting his adapted screenplay trophy, am I right?    I can’t even remember now what award he won – I’d guess it was one of the technical wins for Gravity – but I loved the man whose hands shook so badly that his speech notes flapped.  When Cate Blanchett took the stage, she was classy and funny as always, particularly in her very specific tributes to her fellow nominees; I was very surprised that she thanked Woody Allen.  It was brave of her if nothing else – there was a rather deafening silence when did it.

Matthew McConaughey surprised me, and not just because he and Jared wore matching 1950s waiter tuxedos.  No, his whole speech about loving God and being molded into a respectful person by his Momma just doesn’t fit with the image I’ve always had of him.  Sure, he was still smug and self-congratulatory, but at least gave us an interesting narrative of striving to do better, chasing a vision of the best self he’ll be ten years down the road.  Plus, his imitation of his dad scooting around heaven with a Miller Lite was kind of cute.

And finally, the normally cool and articulate Steve McQueen stammering out his thanks for his best picture win.  I don’t mean this in an unkind way at all, but it’s nice to people get emotional here.  It’s nice to see when it matters.  If you want a comparison, google his wins at BAFTA and here, and you’ll see immediately what I mean.

Thoughts on fashion.  Why did Lupita Nyong’o’s dress look silver and white on the official pre-show, but was clearly blue everywhere else?  I’m so puzzled by that.  It was stunning, though, and the pleated, flowing look was so different from her smooth concoctions for this season’s other award shows.  Cate Blanchett was queen of the night in glittering nude.  I mean, wow.  That’s a dress to play to the back seats.  Amy Adams looked beautiful in a dark blue, as did Sandra Bullock. I adored Jennifer Garner’s silver flapper fringe.  Carlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence – also amazing.  Though they weren’t movie stars, I loved that the two regular looking make up artists who won for Dallas Buyers Club came in full on, massive princess gowns; why the heck not?  How often do you get to go to the Oscars, let alone be nominated for one?  Good for them.

Maybe later we’ll ruminate over why the favorites won everything, and whether as Ellen suggested people voted for 12 Years a Slave so as not to seem like racists.  But for now, I’ll just say, another year over, and a new year full of new films and new experiences to come.

One comment on “Oscar 2014: Post-Mortem

  1. I didn’t watch, but I can see how, with Ellen’s light humor and Lupita’s amazingness, this was the most-watched Oscars in a while, even if nothing unexpected happened. Lupita is certainly on my radar now, and I LOVE everything about her. Her accent doesn’t confuse me, though–it sounds quite Kenyan.

    I do get a bit of guilty pleasure at looking at the best-dressed lists post-Oscars. I must say I was not as impressed with Jennifer Lawrence’s look as the internet seems to be–I think it’s the hairstyle. Combined with that dress, I think it makes her look older than she is.

    And then, I saw this: http://bzfd.it/1kQsO7f (I’m generally not a fan of buzzfeed, but this may be the best thing they’ve ever done.)

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