That was easily the best show in years. Sure, you didn’t have Hugh Jackman dancing around the stage or James Franco looking stoned throughout his hosting duties, but you had a nice pace, a great host and a crowd of performers that loosened up as the telecast went on. There aren’t many hosts that can get Meryl Streep to shake her tail feather at Pharrell Williams as he dances out by the seats during his musical performance. There hasn’t been a host that gets pizza delivered to a starving audience who have jammed themselves into tight fitting dresses for the allure of a camera. Other hosts won’t break Twitter with a selfie shot including at least 6 Oscar winning actors. I am talking about Ellen DeGeneres and her fabulous hosting work last night at the Kodiak Theater. Let’s talk about that and more here.
- Ellen knocked it out of the park and did so by delivering a funny and biting opening monologue that didn’t make her crowd uneasy yet made them laugh and set them up for a good night. She did things differently, refusing to be a skeleton on stage or get too insulting. She didn’t try as hard as Seth McFarlane did last year to generate laughs and wasn’t afraid to ask Harvey Weinstein and Brad Pitt for pizza delivery money. She got the crowd to loosen up and that’s not easy. These stars and filmmakers are sitting in theater styled seats hoping to be noticed on camera or win an award for their craft so to see Ellen get Lupita Nyong’o shake it and Amy Adams dance with Pharrell was refreshing. She didn’t do that herself but had the audience so relaxed that those kind of spontaneous things just come around. I tip my tip to the lady who was hosting the awards for the second time yet seemed like she was ready to do it again next Sunday. I was skeptical about her going in last night and she made the show inviting for non movie buffs.
- The right people won the major awards. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto each delivering rousing speeches after they took the prize for Dallas Buyers Club(currently on Redbox, Blu Ray, and DVD for your viewing pleasure). McConaughey talked about letting GOD define his path but did so in a laid back cool and not Tim Tebow like. He didn’t paint his eye lids with her favorite Biblical verse. McConaughey said something really cool and that was his hero is himself but 10 years from now. Ever since he was young, he always said his hero was himself but 10 years down the road, because it gave him something to live for and strive towards. He looked grateful, stunned and honored. And he deserved that trophy. No actor in Hollywood has had a hotter streak these past few years and no one had a better 2013. Leto was more personal and reflective. His single mom raised him and his siblings early on and he pointed to his mother in the crowd. Leto talked about giving all those sexually insecure souls a voice and never forgot about the film’s message. Great work gents.
- Nyong’o won for 12 Years A Slave and deservedly so. She was shattering in her role as a fellow slave to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Solomon and came out of nowhere with the performance. In a film full of great acting, she stood out to me. She also used the platform to talk about young kid’s dreams and the ability to do anything if you set your mind to it. These actors were once struggling souls just like the rest of us. They have to fight and grind for their exposure every year and it’s a tough race. They are paid very handsomely but when they say anyone can do it, it isn’t too far from the truth.
- Cate Blanchett won for Blue Jasmine and rightfully so. She threw everything but the kitchen sink into that performance and for a movie I did not care for all together, she rose above it and made it worthwhile. Woody Allen can pull some great performances from his uneven films and this one fell into that category. It was hard not to appreciate her transformation into this highly unlikable character.
- 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture and while I was pulling for Alfonso Cuaron to win for Gravity(he earned it for creating a tense 90 minute space thriller), a small part of me wanted to see Steve McQueen take the award. His accomplishment with a sprawling epic story like his slavery tale was something high above first class. This close race showed you how strong of a year it was for film.
- Spike Jonze won for HER. A completely original idea for a romantic drama had the best original script of 2014. In a movie that wasn’t always easy to love because it was brutally honest, Jonze’s words gave life to the story and really centered it. Having actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson reading your work doesn’t hurt. I felt like it stole this award from David O. Russell’s American Hustle.
- Speaking of the wildly funny and overrated con man comedy with the all star cast, I am not surprised or mad that American Hustle went home shut out in all the categories. Funny engaging film yet overpowered by strong competition.
- The “In Memoriam” section was decent as usual but I still think they should show clips from a few of the actors best films. They did this the year Heath Ledger died and it should be done more frequently. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O’ Toole and James Gandolfini deserve that much. And the biggest misfire of the night came when they failed to show Dennis Farina in the segment. He died this past July and was one of the truly great character actors, in some ways as strong as Gandfolfini.
- Nice to see Angelina Jolie get noticed for her wonderful humanitarian work. Love or hate her film work, she is a true globe trotting woman of action. She doesn’t write checks and sit on a yacht somewhere. She goes to the endangered places in this world and gives her time and money to help people who need it most. Celebrities can do great things with their name recognition and money. Jolie does it every year. That deserved and got the right attention. Hate on her film work and persona yet don’t hate on the fact she is a genuinely good person and does a lot of great work with her name.
- I wasn’t mad to see Wolf of Wall Street go home empty handed. While it was a dazzling full bodied experience, there were too many stronger films this year for it to win anything major. I am sure Leo didn’t think The Great Gatsby would win an award and not Scorsese’s Wolf.
- Gravity earned every technical award it was nominated for and won. That was a nearly flawless 90 minute film that scared you, moved you and had you on the edge of your seat even though it was filmed entirely in a module. That’s the movies for you. Takes you out of your comfort zone and blows your mind.
That’s it. Helluva show. I probably forgot something but I can come back later and throw it in during a future post. Last night’s show was fun, refreshing, fast paced and worth the time and the live tweets. Have a good day folks!