HOLLYWOOD—The biggest award night of the year, the Academy Awards took place on Sunday, March 2 at the Dolby Theatre inHollywood. After all the buzz, the glitz, the glamour and tons of stars, and one of the most competitive and decisive Oscar race in years came down to three movies and Best Picture which was handed out by Oscar nominee Will Smith to “12 Years a Slave.” “Thank you all for this incredible honor that you bestowed on this film tonight,” said Brad Pitt while on stage.
“First, I’d like to thank the Academy…and the wonderful cast and crew,” said Steve McQueen while accepting the award on stage. “I dedicate this award to all the people who endured slavery,” added McQueen. McQueen made history becoming the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Picture. “Gravity” was the night’s big winner with seven awards including Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Editing, Visual Effects and Cinematography. While “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club” both took home three awards piece. Completely shut-out was “American Hustle” which came in with 10 nominations, but walked away with none.
That moment to see Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poiter stand on stage to present the trophy for Best Director was one hell of a moving moment, as the room paid tribute to the man who made history with his Oscar win more than 50 years ago. The trophy went to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity.”
One competitive race beyond Best Picture was Best Actor, which in my opinion is one of the tightest races in the Academy’s history with nominees Leonardo DiCaprio “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Chiwetel Ejiofor “12 Years a Slave” and Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club” vying for the top prize; I didn’t consider Bruce Dern “Nebraska” and Christian Bale “American Hustle” as strong contenders, because the other three just are a bit stronger in my opinion. When Jennifer Lawrence opened the envelope, the winner was Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club.”
“Thank you, thank you, to the Academy for this. All of these performances were impeccable,” said McConaughey while accepting on his stage. “First off I want to thank God, that’s who I look up to…to my family is who and what I look forward to…to my hero, that’s who I chase…my hero is me,” added McConaughey. Wow, this was a night of some spectacular speeches from the winners. Simply inspiring in more ways than one. For Best Actress there was no debate, this was Cate Blanchett’s year as she claimed the top prize for her work as a socialite who falls from grace in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
The ceremony was hosted by comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen kicked off the opening for the ceremony by joking about the rain inLos Angelesand how the city reacts in a panic. She joked about the nominees being the same the last time she hosted the ceremony. She gave some great shout-outs to first time nominees Lupita Nyong’o, Barkhad Abdi and June Squibb, which delivered a few great laughs.
She took a few jabs at Liza Minnelli which didn’t go as well as some had hoped. She seemed very relaxed with hosting duties. She joked about Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence tripping up the stage while accepting her award, and then joked about her taking another stumble at this year’s ceremony. “If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar,” joked DeGeneres.
The Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay went to John Ridley for “12 Years a Slave.” Who was extremely emotional will accepting his trophy on stage. The trophy for Best Original Screenplay was given to Spike Jonze for “Her.” That was indeed a competitive race, where I thought David O. Russell might claim the prize for “American Hustle.”
Another category that was a virtual lock was Best Supporting Actor which saw Jared Leto take the prize for his work as a transgender woman dying of HIV in “Dallas Buyers Club.” “To my fellow nominees, I’m so proud to share this journey with you…there was a teenage girl pregnant with her second child…she encouraged her kids to be creative and to work hard…that girl is my mom,” said Leto while on stage. Truly a heartfelt speech from the actor of encouragement and following your dreams; remarkable speech!
In the nail-bitter race for Best Supporting Actress, it was duel to the death between Jennifer Lawrence “American Hustle” and Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave.” When Christoph Waltz opened the envelope, the name he called was Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave” who was overcome with joy while accepting her award. The actress received a standing ovation from the audience. “Thank you to the Academy for this amazing recognition. I want to salute the triumph of Patsey for her guidance…Steve McQueen thank you so much for putting me in this position,” said Nyong’o while accepting her award on stage. Truly a class act!
Singer Pink delivered a powerhouse performance paying tribute to the movie classic “The Wizard of Oz.” The pipes on that lady; words cannot describe. Pharrell Williams hit the stage to perform his ubiquitous hit “Happy” from the animated film “Despicable Me 2” Indeed a song that makes you get out of your seat that had Lupita, Meryl and Amy Adams dancing in their seats. Classic Oscar moment! Karen O took the stage to perform “The Moon Song” from the quirky film “Her.” The performance seemed so quick I literally forget she was even on stage. Broadway star Idina Menzel sang out her heart for her rendition of “Let It Go” from the animated feature “Frozen.”
Presenters Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx delivered quite a few laughs while presenting the award for Best Original Score to “Gravity.” The Academy Award for Best Original Song went to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Frozen.”
Achievement in Costume Design went to Catherine Martin “The Great Gatsby.” The film also won for Best Production Design. The Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling went to Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews for “Dallas Buyers Club.” Best Animated Short Film went to “Mr. Hublot,” while “Frozen” took the prize for Best Animated Film; an award greatly deserved for an amazing picture. Live Acton Short Film went to “Helium,” while Best Documentary Short Subject went to “The Lady Number 6: Music Saved My Life.”
“20 Feet From Stardom” took home the prize for Best Documentary Feature. It was a competitive race between “Stardom” and “The Square,” but it appears the power of music won members of the Academy over. Best Foreign Language Film went toItalyfor “The Great Beauty.” U2 performed their hit “Ordinary Love” from the hit film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” quite serene, with that rock edge that we’ve come to expect from Bono and his group. I’ll be honest I wasn’t really sure what the Academy was going for with the heroes tribute; because it appears every single film has a hero.
It was a hilarious moment to see Ellen grab almost every A-list actor to take a picture to garner the most re-tweets in history. To see Angelina, Brad, Channing, Meryl, Julia, Jennifer, Bradley and Lupita all in one photo was hilarious to say the least. She followed up that trend with the handing out of pizza to the celebs, wow, take note future Oscar hosts. This is how you do it! Damn fine job Ms. DeGeneres. I can honestly say the 2014 Academy Awards was full of FUN!!! Exactly what an awards show should be. Until 2015 movie lovers, it’s been a great awards season!
By LaDale Anderson