The Oscars 2014 – A resounding success.

Well done Ellen!

From here in the UK, many of us had to pay for a subscription to Sky for the privilege of watching the Oscars, and normally I catch the highlights the next day on Sky Living! But luck wa son my side. Not only had I become aware that Ellen DeGeneres was hosting but I was fortunate enough to take advantage of a complimentary offer from Sky. It was a no-brainer!!! My sunday night started late and ended early monday morning *Yawn*   Image

And boy , Ellen did not disappoint. This was certainly the best Oscar telecast in the past four years, and with hindsight what on earth were they thinking hiring Seth MacFarlane last year?!?!?!

But relax..  Ellen did a more than competent job, without trying to be ostentatious or domineering: instead she played her part in a clearly adapted mission to make the ceremony look more lively and interactive, with its audience spending more time on its feet; After all, nobody needed to watch actors just sitting in their seats applauding languidly for more than three hours? It was time to shake it up.

DeGeneres delivered some classic jokes: Referring to Jennifer Lawrence’s penchant for tripping up and falling over on big occasions, (yes, she did it again on the red carpet before the actual show) she told her: “If you win tonight, we should bring you the Oscar.” The Liza Minnelli impersonator gag sent me off the sofa…!

Deciding a take out was necessary, she sent out for pizza; it duly arrived and she proceeded to distribute the 3 boxes around the star-studded audience. The actors seemed very pleased with this.

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This extended joke had a decent payoff when DeGeneres used Pharrell Williams’s iconic hat for a whip-round to pay for the pizza.

And DeGeneres orchestrated a good stunt by asking Meryl Streep, in the front row, to pose with her for a selfie. She then gradually persuaded nearby members of the audience to crowd in for the shot, so a collection of a dozen stars, including Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, (and HER BROTHER!!) Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Kevin Spacey and Julia Roberts, were included while others rushed in at the last moment. The selfie was apparently retweeted two million times, beating a record once set by Barack and Michelle Obama and causing Twitter to go into temporary shutdown. GO ELLEN !

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In addition, DeGeneres poked fun at Bradley Cooper with a fistful of lottery scratch cards as consolation for not winning an Oscar, and then later on mistakenly tried to shut down the ceremony 30 minutes before its conclusion!

This was a looser, more informal Academy Awards than usual, perhaps following the lead of the surprisingly successful Golden Globes ceremonies of this year and last.

From the best song nominees, it was a deft stroke to have the irrepressible Pharrell Williams perform his upbeat hit Happy early in the show. It lifted the spirits right from the start and set the tone for the evening ahead, bringing the audience to its feet. Williams danced with a few actresses in the front rows, notably Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams who actually outshone him. However, Pharrell’s chosen choice of shorts on the red carpet has since been slated by the fashion police! a big NO NO. Then again, if a man of 42 (YES, 42) can pull off this fashion statement, perhaps we should cheer at that.  Thankfully his stage outfit more than made up for it.

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Pharrell Williams performing: http://youtu.be/3FEnu11AmQQ

Other treats included a genuinely heartfelt speech from Lupita Nyong’o, named best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave. It was pleasing to see her director, Britain’s Steve McQueen dash down the aisle to give her a big rocking bear hug before she went on stage to accept the award.

And though McQueen was thwarted in his bid to win the director Oscar (it went to Alfonso Cuarón), he lost his composure when 12 Years a Slave was named best film; he couldn’t get the words of his acceptance speech out fast enough, and became almost incoherent. After speaking he bounced up and down joyously on the stage. Lupita has become the lady to watch… She is currently the most ‘Googled’ celebrity.

It’s worth noting there was a far stronger African-American presence on stage than one remembered from previous Oscars, including the legendary veteran actor Sidney Poitier, who presented an award with Angelina Jolie.

The night’s best acceptance speech came from the redoubtable, eloquent Cate Blanchett, named best actress for her role in Blue Jasmine. She poured scorn on the notion, still voiced in Hollywood, that women’s films were “niche”. “People want to see them, and they make money” The women in the auditorium cheered her on.

ImageThe actors awards had been hotly tipped for quite some time and Matthew McConaughey’s thank you speech managed to roll all three styles into one as he praised his family, his future self and his late father, who died when the actor was just 23. Jared Leto also won for best supporting actor – both for Dallas Buyers Club.

Matthew, who said that his father was probably celebrating in heaven with a pot of gumbo and a can of beer in his hand, was also the most prominent star to thank God for the victory.

The film Gravity almost swept the board last night for special effects, but the best film deservedly went to 12 Years A Slave. Thanks to Ellen, this was a telecast that broadly worked and scored points for its exuberance and spirit. As for the host, she did enough to suggest she may return as host next year, and if she doesn’t I will surely be watching the highlights next year.

And so the parties begin…..

The winners:

BEST PICTURE:

12 Years a Slave – WINNER

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club WINNER

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

Cate Blanchett – Blue JasmineWINNER

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club WINNER

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave WINNER

BEST DIRECTOR:

Alfonso Cuaron – GravityWINNER

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Great GatsbyWINNER

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING:

Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER

BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED):

Mr Hublot – WINNER

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

Frozen – WINNER

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION):

Helium – WINNER

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – WINNER

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

20 Feet from Stardom – WINNER

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

The Great Beauty (Italy) – WINNER

BEST SOUND MIXING:

GravityWINNER

BEST SOUND EDITING:

GravityWINNER

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

GravityWINNER

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

GravityWINNER

BEST FILM EDITING:

GravityWINNER

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

The Great GatsbyWINNER

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

GravityWINNER

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Let It Go – Frozen WINNER

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave WINNER

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Spike Jonze – HerWINNER

Roll on next year, and, hopefully, Ellen as host!

J

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