A laid back celebration of the art of film
By Valerie Milano
Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Today) 3/3/14 – The 86th Annual Academy Awards was casual TV viewing. This year’s show at the Dolby Theater was refreshingly free of elaborate dance numbers and hyperactive staging. Its simple theme was “Heroes in The Movies”. Ellen DeGeneres got her second shot at hosting and acquitted herself well. She projected a nice, homey confidence that carried her through the occasional muffed line and flat gag.
Space adventure Gravity will have the splashiest post-Oscar adverts, grabbing an eye-popping seven awards. As predicted, Hollywood burnished its progressive polemics by bestowing upon 12 Years a Slave Best Picture honors. And, indie sensation Dallas Buyers Club assured itself a nice box-office bump by capturing two acting awards; Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor and Jared Leto. The camera was in love with Leto the entire evening, so get ready for the metro- Jesus look to make a fashion comeback this spring. Cate Blanchett was the class of the field, taking Best Actress honors and (almost) making us forget her award winning vehicle, Blue Jasmine was a Woody Allen movie. And finally, standing bruised and battered in the loser’s circle was American Hustle, which washed out in all 10 categories it was nominated.
The show was a bracing mixture of old and new. Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, Sandra Bullock, et al……. assumed their usual positions on the nominee’s list, while a gaggle of rookies made good by walking off with some major awards for acting and directing.
We always look for a breakout moment at the Oscars, and we got two. Lupita Nyong’o not only turned film critics heads with her Oscar winning performance in Twelve Years a Slave, she gave the best, most heartfelt acceptance speech of this or any other year. As a bonus she also had the fashion police peeing themselves over her daring-but-elegant powder blue gown with plunging cleavage. Post-show, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a media commentator declaring …. “A star is born!”
Second breakout moment was Pink’s grand slam rendering of “Over The Rainbow” during the Judy Garland/Oz tribute. Singing from the heart with no suspension harness in sight, it’s safe to say Pink crossed over to the mainstream in front of a billion TV viewers. Yes, Pink is already a star. However, she won’t be edgy and hip forever. When that time comes when the word Pink disappears from the butts of millennial youths and cougar-moms across the globe, Pink will at least have the option of cranking out a couple of American Songbook albums (ala’ Rod Stewart) to cushion her dotage. I think we can now declare the Madonna era officially over.
Of course, what’s an Oscar ceremony without some manufactured controversy regarding the host’s monologue? In this case DeGeneres made a joke describing attendee Liza Minnelli as the best Liza Minnelli impersonator she had ever seen. Then came the punch line, “good job sir”. Big laughs and groans co-mingled. CNN’s Piers Morgan professed shock. Look, Minnelli is a gay icon whose imitators are exclusively male, drag artists, and Ellen DeGeneres is an out and proud lesbian. I think the two stars can work it out without our help. Somebody tell Piers Morgan to calm down.
The proceedings moved at a brisker pace than any Oscar show in recent memory. Ellen DeGeneres gets high marks for letting the stars drive the show. She even managed to crash Twitter with a ‘selfie’ of her and the nominees. She also went out into the audience to take pizza orders from the audience. What could have been an arch and unfunny bit in the hands of an uptight host, actually hit the mark. There were in fact, some famished stars in attendance, and watching Ellen trying to settle up the tab with the uber- rich allowed DeGeneres to go off script and display her quick wit and likability. Note to all awards show producers: You don’t have to swing for the fences with every bit.
Well, another year, another Oscars. The career defining awards have been distributed. And, per custom, we will forget who won this year by the same time next year. However, it’s still good fun and high drama when done right. Here’s to the return of Ellen and a laid back celebration of the art of film.