I watch the Oscars fairly regularly. I don’t clear my schedule, but if I’m home when it’s on, I watch. I don’t watch the red carpet, and I don’t watch any fashion police nonsense. That’s my disclaimer. I have a few thoughts, as usual these are in no particular order.
1) I pretty much approve of all the winners.
I maybe would have done a few things different, I thought American Hustle was woefully snubbed. They should have won costumes, The Great Gatsby was a good choice, though. I agree with all the technical and effects awards that Gravity got, as well as Directing. I was surprised by Cate Blanchett’s win, but then, I didn’t see Blue Jasmine and don’t intend to. But I predicted 12 Years a Slave would win, and especially Lupita Nyong’o. I was surprised by the men’s acting awards, but I guess I didn’t have any strong front-runners in mind.
2) Ellen Degeneres was delightful.
I love Ellen, ever since he sitcom. She has such a subtle humor, and yet it’s not safe. She’s not afraid to take shots, because nobody could ever be mad at that face. Plus, her style and sense of self are incredible. I thought she made the show. The pizza bit, the opening monologue, no song! This is what it should always be like!
3) Slightly disappointed by the musical numbers.
Karen O was wonderful in an intimate moment, sitting at the edge of the stage with her guitarist who sang backup, a digital moon rising behind her as she purred The Moon Song from Her. I love this ditty (it’s almost too simple and elegant to call a song). The Moon Song is a tune Samantha, an operating system, writes for Theodore, who sings and accompanies her on a ukulele. I was a touch disappointed they switched to guitar, I think the uke was really intimate and lovely. The song is a perfect snapshot of a new couple, and the first flush of romance.
Next best was Let It Go, by Idina Mendel. Unfortunate about her name, she seemed kind of upset and I don’t think she performed as well as she could have. I didn’t see Frozen, not really my kind of movie, but I’ve heard her sing before and she is amazing! The Jimmy Fallon version was ten times better!
Look at her! So relaxed, and having fun, and she sounded more like herself. Also, I thought it sounded really short, Sunday night. They cut a whole verse, so she only sang for a few minutes. But the other acts seemed longer. U2 had to have been on for five minutes! I wonder if they were getting to the end of the program and had to cut something.
Pharrell Williams’ Happy was so-so. The dancers were fun (and very multicultural, which was a refreshing change! All colors and sizes!) I wasn’t a big fan of the song, but you have to have at least one big dance number, right?
Words cannot express how indifferent I was to that U2 song and performance. Remember the musical performances from years past? When there were actual musicals nominated? Like the year Once and Dream Girls were nominated? Sigh.
4) Acceptance speeches!
Nobody got played off, well, I think somebody was, but he actually jumped in and started talking after the music had already started playing. Don’t know who that was, foreign movie, maybe? Still, they didn’t turn off his mic, they just didn’t stop playing. Fair enough, that would be awkward.
I was a teensy but disappointed in Cate Blanchett. Although I loved what she had to say about female narratives in movies, and the female experience not being a “niche market”, she also specifically thanked Woody Allen, and that made me uncomfortable. I don’t want to lead a witch hunt, regarding Woody Allen and the sexual abuse accusations. The evidence is incriminating, but people do get wrongly accused, though not as much as people claim. Looking at the “evidence” I smell something fishy. It doesn’t add up, especially the question of what she would have to gain by lying and persisting in lying twenty years later. His public response made me very uncomfortable, and while I can’t say anything he says is untrue, it still does not sound like the defense of an innocent man. I always loved his movies, and I’m dismayed. I have to wonder now if one of my favorite movies was directed by a pedophile.
Wow, that was a really long explanation! To come to the point, Cate Blanchett has never, so far as I know, addressed these issues. So her speech sounded like she supports him, and could lead to lots of conclusions being drawn. Or, she could be thanking her director out of courtesy. In that case, she’s just being professional. I don’t know. I really like Cate, and I don’t want to think bad things of her or Allen. I don’t know.
On a lighter note, Matthew McConaughey didn’t sound nearly as drunk as he did at The Golden Globes!
5) Class acts
When 12 Years a Slave won for Best Picture, all the cast went on stage, and Brad Pitt took the mic… to introduce Steve McQueen, director of the film. I thought that was really awesome, that he would make sure McQueen got recognized for his work, especially since he didn’t win for directing.
The guy delivering the pizzas was an actual delivery person. He had no idea he was going to be onstage. He got a $600 tip, so, not a bad night!
The selfie. I won’t repost, wouldn’t want to break the internet! I love watching people be friends and have fun with each other, whether that’s the characters on The Office, or local news anchors or Hollywood stars on Oscar night. There’s so much cat fighting and bitterness in the world, there should be more selfies, more people wanting to just remember this moment when they were together and happy. Squee!
6) Speaking of class acts, Lupita Nyong’o!
She is such a treat, isn’t she? She was so good, it never crossed my mind she wouldn’t get the award. And that speech?! “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to do much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.” Also, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
I’m not much for quoting, but I might have to stitch that on a pillow. Your dreams are valid. Things like that definitely don’t happen every Oscars!
7) Montage: In memoriam
It seemed like we had a lot of people to remember this year. Peter O’Toole (my favorite actor) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Almost Famous was the first thing I ever saw him in, but he made lots of other great movies too), James Gandolfini, Shirley Temple Black and Harold Ramis, among others. I wish they had skipped the song and done sound bites or movie clips instead, like they used to do. I used to live that part, it kind of felt like we got to say goodbye to them.
My quotes would have been (yes, I came prepared): Peter O’Toole: The best of them won’t come for money, they’ll come for me.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.
Harold Ramis: Sorry, Venkman. I’m terrified being the capacity for rational thought.
Shirley Temple Black: Good ship lollipop, my favorite!
8) Montage: Heroes
So, the theme for this year’s Oscars was heroes (have they always had themes?) I read a bunch of blogs, and I don’t remember which one, but somebody commented that the theme was kind of ironic, considering most of the movie nominated were either survivor stories (12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity) or featured anti-heroes (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Great Gatsby). Of course, survivors can be heroes, . And even anti-heroes can serve as a mirror for society, reflecting our failings back to us so we can see what we really are, and perhaps motivate us to change. I would definitely say Ryan Stone from Gravity and Solomon Northrop from 12 YAS were heroes and probably others (I didn’t see them all). Still, the montages mostly featured characters from past movies, and mostly literal heroes who often happened to be male (so much Avengers!) I remember the Oscars used to do more than edit movie clips. They used to do really cool interpretive dance numbers for nominees (remember Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!? So cool!) They seem to have gotten away from that, which is unfortunate. I can watch movie montages on YouTube. I come to the Oscars because I want to be inspired!
9) The Wizard of Oz
Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this. First, I don’t really like Pink, and I don’t know why she of all people was chosen. Second, why now? 75 years? Ok, but it just kind of seemed to come out of left field. Lots of other movies were made seventy-five years ago. Why not commemorate them? And it’s not like anyone’s forgetting it anytime soon. We just had a remake/prequel, and the Broadway musical is still insanely popular, and the book series, lest we forget. It felt a little forced, and this time could have been put to better use (like more dance numbers!)
10) Jennifer Lawrence
I am definitely team J-Law. She’s so funny and cute and I just want to be besties. She didn’t do much this year, except trip on the red carpet, stare down laughing audience members, what are you laughing at? and lastly pretend to try to steal Lupita Nyong’o's Oscar. I don’t think she’s giving it up!