Greetings from Orlando, Florida, readers! This past Sunday was the 86th Academy Awards. Here are my thoughts of what went right and what went wrong.
First off, unlike my predictions last year which got thrashed by the actual results (8-10), this year I went 15-4 (missed on Supporting Actress, Original Score, Sound Mixing and Production Design). Not too many surprises; in fact, there were really no surprises, unlike last year (seriously, as much I really liked Pixar’s Brave, Wreck-It Ralph should’ve won). Gravity reigned supreme at the event, taking home seven statues: Best Director and sweeping the technical categories. Well deserved honors for the film, as it was the technical achievement of the year.
So here’s my breakdown of the night.
Best of the Night: The speeches. Thank God Sean Penn didn’t win anything (great actor, I know, but good Lord there’s enough hot air in his self-important smugness to wipe out the Ozone layer and set the Amazon rainforest on fire). Overall the speeches ranged from humorous, moving and sometimes humble without the camera preening.
Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o had the most memorable speeches of the night. Coming out of nowhere – like fellow nominee Barkhad Abdi – Nyong’o wasn’t my prediction, but she was most definitely my personal pick for Supporting Actress. It was a genuinely moving speech that had Nyong’o acknowledging that the joy she’s been receiving is thanks to the pain of someone else’s (her tribute to Patsey, the character she portrayed). You earned it, Lupita. If you decide to reprise your role in Non-Stop 2, though, make sure they give you more than 6 lines that have you pretty much stating variations of how you can’t believe what’s happening.
Equally moving was McConaughey’s speech, which was also lighthearted and funny. It also wound up splitting opinions, some believing his speech was the real deal and some finding his “My hero’s me in 10 years” bit to be narcissistic (they clearly missed the point of what he was trying to say). His “hero” moment aside, McConaughey kept his speech mostly personal, choosing to thank God, his fellow cast members, director, wife and kids and two heartfelt and sometimes humorous thanks to his parents (fellow winner and cast member Jared Leto also had a touching salute to his mother and brother).
Alright, alright, alright!
Cleverness points go to husband-wife songwriting team Kristen Anderson and Robert Lopez. They won Best Original Song for Frozen’s “Let It Go”, and their acceptance speech was a nice blend of cute and funny. It was rather fitting for the category they were in.
Worst of the Night: It wasn’t horrible, but Ellen Degeneres’s hosting was a letdown. To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as her first time hosting, and nowhere even near near the disasters that were Franco-Hathaway and David “Opraaaah! Umaaaa!!!!” Letterman. Certain jokes worked (most coming from her opening monologue), but then there were some that went on and on and on… and on some more (pizza delivery bit, I’m referring to you). When the biggest complaint about the Oscars, from even the shows defenders, is how long and drawn out it can get (of which, I agree), running on long and tired jokes is not the way to go.
The worst offense, though, goes to two missing seconds that should’ve been Dennis Farina in the “In Memoriam” segment. How the hell do you forget him and also Jonathan Winters, one of the most influential comedic talents ever? Granted, sure it’s not like skipping over Farina was like they removed Marlon Brando from the segment, but Farina was still an underrated (clearly) character actor who delivered memorable performances in Manhunter, Midnight Run, Get Shorty, Out of Sight and You Kill Me.
They also forgot Tom Clancy and Ed Lauter, but hey, I digress.
Mixed Bag of the Night: The slew of presenters, which featured Channing Tatum and Tyler Perry among others (the closest they’ll ever get to being involved with this show), were either on or off. We did get an on-the-mark Bruce Dern impression from Jim Carrey and one of my favorite moments of the night, Bill Murray giving an off-the-cuff tribute to his former friend, film collaborator and fellow Ghostbuster Harold Ramis (to which, Bill Murray’s career owes a huge thank you). But, we also got Emma Watson appearing to make love to camera with her eyes, Jamie Foxx doing some poor riffing on “Chariots of Fire” and Harrison Ford telling us how “exhilarating of a thrill ride” Gravity was while looking like he was knocked out on anti-depressants. None of the above, though, can top this…
Most Talked About of the Night: I had it all wrong. Idina Menzel had nothing to do with Frozen. It was Adele Dazeem. Thank you John Travolta for correcting me.
For the record, slate.com has a “Travoltafied” name generator now. Turns out my name’s not Benjamin Marlatt. It’s Bethany Mceezald.
All in all, not great, but not a bad show either. Everyone who was expected to win won. Seriously, though, tighten it up showrunners! That means fewer frivolous montages, Academy. Maybe they should consider Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for co-hosting next year. I’m not a Tina Fey fan, but for some reason, when those two are paired together, it works.
Well, except for Baby Mama.