March 05, 2014 by Shane O'Connor
The 86th Academy Awards have come and gone, and I can’t help but feel a sense of relief. After the People’s Choice Awards, Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy Film Awards and Film Independent Spirit Awards, I’m a little tired of everyone in Hollywood getting awards while I toil away with not even a participation medal to show for it. This year I looked forward to the Oscars in the same way I imagine Meryl Streep approaches Oscar nominations at this point in her career: excited to see another one but not really expecting much to come from the whole ordeal.
Ellen DeGeneres was doing well enough hosting for her second time until she decided to pull that whole pizza stunt. Come on, Ellen. I don’t want to see fancy, attractive, Hollywood people eating greasy peasant food on live television. She tried to make the stars more relatable — or as relatable as you can be while wearing earrings that cost more than my car — but it was a tough task. Maybe they’ll try caviar next year! The best joke of Ellen’s monologue was a reference to Jonah Hill showing his penis in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and I could only fully appreciate it after someone who had seen “Wolf” confirmed that it was, in fact, a penis joke.
I imagine that my problem of missing references to any of the nine (NINE) best picture nominees is shared by many an Oscar viewer. Since the academy decided to expand the number of nominees, I’ve had an increasingly hard time trying to watch them all in an attempt to be fully informed come Oscar time. Over the past three years I have seen 10 out of the 27 best picture nominees, less than 50 percent for those of you keeping track at home. Keep that in mind for next year when I’m trying to argue why my best picture pick is better than yours: I’m probably making stuff up based on Rotten Tomatoes review blurbs I read at work. The lengths I go to in order to appear cultured.
I kind of forgot about how many awards they give out to distract people until they announce original screenplay, best actress, best actor and best picture all in the last 20 minutes of the broadcast. Some of these relatively unsung awards include the best in: makeup and hairstyling, costume design, production design, film editing, sound mixing, and sound editing. Those last two may be the same thing; who really knows? Another distinction I have a hard time making is whether a film’s editing is good or not. Anyone who comes out of a movie theater and tells you, “Yeah, man, that editing was really superb” is a liar and a phony and should not be allowed to comment on movies for at least a year, maybe longer. Cinematography and directing are another two awards that confuse me. Isn’t the director the boss of the cinematographer? Who cares; “Gravity” won all those awards anyway!
My favorite parts of the whole night were the original song performances. It was like the Grammys except without the being terrible part! Pharrell sang “Happy” wearing his Smokey the Bear hat, those two indie band people played that romantic song from “Her,” some lady did the song from that animated movie with the snowman and U-freaking-2 played their song from the Nelson Mandela movie, and they sounded awesome. Bono singing/yelling about important issues while The Edge strums along in his beanie hat; those guys are the best. Not sure why they didn’t win. Playing a song in a movie about the great Nelson Mandela that was released shortly before he died and then memorialized by the entire planet should have been an Oscar no-brainer. The nearly 6,000 Oscar voters work in mysterious ways.
It was great to see some actual speeches this year instead of the litany of “thank you” and “I can’t believe this” mumbo jumbo that people frantically try to blurt out before the orchestra cuts them off. Jared Leto and his speech get bonus points for mentioning both his mother and Ukraine! I had almost forgotten there was stuff going on over there in Crimea, but thankfully Ellen’s Twitter-crashing selfie got me back to focusing on what was important: the celebrities.
Hate best actor winner Matthew McConaughey all you want, but the guy is really only guilty of having a last name that is nearly impossible to spell without Googling it. Between “Dallas Buyers Club” and “True Detective,” he is only a Tony and Grammy away from joining the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony club with the newest member, Robert Lopez, the composer from “Frozen.” Lopez and his wife also take home the award in the category: Best Speech, Rhyming. I don’t get why so many people forgo preparing speeches. I read five or six “Oscar picks” articles that pretty much nailed every award, so don’t give me that “Oh, I didn’t really expect this” line. Those same articles take all the drama out of most of the major awards, which can be a bummer at times. Lupita Nyong’o winning best supporting actress was one of the only awards up in the air, but she still managed a nice, heartfelt speech.
The night came to a close with “12 Years a Slave” unsurprisingly winning best picture. For me, the best picture should be a movie that can endure the test of time and be able to stand on its merits for years to come. None of the other films this year had the staying power of “12 Years a Slave” and because of that, its win was never in question. Director Steve McQueen’s jumping up and down on stage was a sight to behold though. He was close to the happiness level of a six-year-old on Christmas morning. It was a great way to end a night that was just “all right, all right, all right.”