Academy Awards 2014

Oscar2013 was a year where futuristic dramas, adrenaline rushes and con-games reached critical heights (“Her,” “Gravity,” “American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”), those typically reserved for survival stories (“Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), socio-political dramas (“Argo,” “ZeroDark Thirty,” “Ides of March”) or race relations (“12 Years a Slave”).

The 86th Academy Awards opened with the stage filled with dozens and dozens of blown-up Oscar statues, and Ellen DeGeneres took center stage as host.  In her pre-show interview, she mentioned that her goal was to give a great performance, but not overshadow the stars, and to make them feel relaxed and happy.  She seemed to accomplish that without venturing into jokes that are borderline offensive, as dished out by last year’s host, Seth MacFarlane.  She was also self-aware and recognized that a host typically went though a number of costume changes.  At one point, she pointed out that she added a scarf to her white pantsuit and pulled a stunt, appearing in a Glinda the Good Witch costume (from “The Wizard of Oz”).

DeGeneres joked about a serious issue Hollywood had in the last couple of days, the rain, and thanked everyone around the world for praying and that they’re all right.  She picked up the latest trend, ‘selfies,’ took a picture of herself and tweeted to the world.  It’s a fine opening, although I must say I missed a more dramatic entry of years past, such as mocked montages, creative skits or musical numbers.

DeGeneres made a point of making the show interactive and relatable for those in the audience.  In one funny moment, she went out to the audience and started pulling stars from their seats to take pictures with her in an effort to break the record of the most re-tweeted tweet.  In another, she brought a pizza delivery guy with her, offered slices of pie to presumably starving stars, and collected cash here and there for payment.

The theme of the show was “celebrating heroes.” DeGeneres took a jab at Hollywood right off the bat.  The important things in life are love, family and friends, and those without, would typically go into show business.  The theme was celebrated through clips of movies in the last few decades based on true events where the protagonists are real-life heroes, as well as superheroes and fantasy heroes.  Select actors and actresses were shown receiving humanitarian awards for their work that deal with human causes.  Special guests for the evening include the real Captain Phillips and Philomena.

Musical performances provided a good mix, which included upbeat“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” the melancholic piece “The Moon Song” from “Her”, the tribute to Mandela “Ordinary Love” from“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”  and Disney’s “Let It Go” from“Frozen.”  There’s a tribute to the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” a song sung by Pink, who was introduced by Whoopi Goldberg.  The former Oscar host was wearing striped tights and glittering red shoes under her dress. Hollywood honored those who passed away with “Wind Beneath My Wings,” a special performance by Bette Midler.

As expected, Jared Leto won best supporting actor, followed by his co-star Matthew McConaughey as best actor, for their transformative roles in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Leto shared a story from the past about his mother and thanked her for teaching him to dream.  He dedicated the statue to those people who have died of AIDS.  McConaughey thanked the people in his life and touched on the hero theme, having someone or something to look up to and look forward to.

Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o gave a tearful and grateful speech after winning best supporting actress for her dramatic role in “12 Years a Slave.”  The film also earned best adapted screenplay.  Best actress went out to Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” who proceeded with a well-rounded speech, gracious and sprinkled with self-deprecating humor, celebrating her fellow nominees and women.

Critics-favorite “American Hustle” lost out make-up and hairstyling, and costume design awards to “Dallas Buyers Club”and “The Great Gatsby,” respectively.  The latter also nabbed a win in production design.  “American Hustle” was shut out, including losing best original screenplay to “Her,” which wasn’t surprising to me.  It’s a great film, but overrated and nothing to rave about.

“Frozen” left all other animations in a fairy dust, winning the best animated film award.  The animation also snagged best original song statue,  for “Let It Go.”

“Gravity,” frontrunner of technical achievements was simply unstoppable.  It scored best visual effects, cinematography, sound mixing and sound editing.  The film also went on to win original score, film editing, and a best director prize for its visionary and technically accomplished director, Alfonso Cuaron.  I’m over the moon that “Gravity” flew home with the largest number of trophies; it deserves a win in every single category it won.  It splits the last big award with “12 Years a Slave,” which was awarded best picture.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Motion Picture – Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Winner: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Winner: Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett

Best Achievement in Directing – Winner: Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – Winner: Her – Spike Jonze

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published – Winner: 12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song – Winner: Frozen – Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (“Let It Go”)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score – Winner: Gravity – Steven Price

Best Achievement in Production Design – Winner: The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn

Best Achievement in Editing – Winner: Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Winner: Gravity – Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Winner: 12 Years a Slave – Lupita Nyong’o

Best Achievement in Sound Editing – Winner: Gravity – Glenn Freemantle

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing – Winner: Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro

Best Achievement in Visual Effects – Winner: Gravity – Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould

Best Animated Feature Film – Winner: Frozen

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling – Winner: Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews

Best Achievement in Costume Design – Winner: The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Winner: Dallas Buyers Club – Jared Leto

For a complete list of winners, check out the official website.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

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