The 86th Academy Awards last night were a non-offensive ball of fluffy television, entirely by design. The Academy chose Ellen DeGeneres as host because DeGeneres is not Seth MacFarlane. I thought MacFarlane was a hilarious host who brought new energy and entertainment to the Oscar telecast last year - especially when compared to the utter disasters that had preceded him. But in a night where your Best Picture nominees are focused on AIDS, slavery, African piracy, and robot sex, it makes sense for the Academy to want to play it safe. Nobody wants a slavery joke freaking out the audience at home. Well... except for me, but I'm still crossing my fingers for the day that Anthony Jeselnik will host the Oscars. I may not be able to come up with a slavery joke, but I'm sure he could, and mix a rape joke in there too. He is a saint.
So there were no musical numbers celebrating topless scenes in movies. Ellen DeGeneres came forward with her typical semi-nervous "deer in the headlights" approach, being just awkward enough to seem human, while still being very bubbly, nice, and unoffensive. Early on in her speech the writers fed her a few barbs, such as accusing Liza Minnelli of being a male impersonator. DeGeneres seemed just as uncomfortable saying that joke as Minnelli seems uncomfortable to be the target of it. Eventually she hit some kind of stride by announcing a tough truth: "Possibility No. 1: '12 Years a Slave' wins best picture. Possibility No. 2: You're all racists." Which was brilliantly followed up by: "And now, please welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway!"
Where DeGeneres was more solid came when she got off the stage. Some hosts simply disappear during the course of the night, such as James Franco who was more interesting in entertaining a bottle of scotch than the world. DeGeneres gave up the main stage to the presenters and spent most of the night palling around with the celebrities in the audiences. There was much talk of Jonah Hill's penis, a major supporting character in "The Wolf of Wall Street". Her bits here were considerably more funny than her last hosting gig in 2007, when she decided to start vacuuming the floor out of boredom. Tonight she ordered pizza, stole a lot of money from Brad Pitt, and had that pizza delivered. She did not order nearly enough for the entire audience, but it was a weird gesture simple comedy in a night that really did not want to focus on the subject manner of its Best Picture winner.
There was also the legendary selfie given by Bradley Cooper and a bevy of A-list stars behind him, which was specifically designed to be the most re-tweeted picture ever... and successfully crashed Twitter. So if anybody is wondering if traditional media such as television or movies are out-dated, those managed to get millions of viewers without a problem - it was the most-watched Oscars since 2005 - and new media could not handle the concept of Lupita Nyong'o's brother photobombing Angelina Jolie. Though really, who is the more relevant A-list star at this point? Lupita Nyong'o's brother, or Angelina Jolie? I have to go with the former. I am also happy to see that the role I usually play in big group photos: the floating head in the back row giving a terrible twisted smile can also be played by Kevin Spacey. That is an actor with range!
The telecast was the usual mix of bloated pomposity and the actual meat and bones of giving awards. Thankfully this year the Oscar writers realized that interrupting the ceremony with pre-taped atrociously unfunny sketches is, in fact, a bad idea. There were still the montages that ate up too much time, which seemed unnecessary considering the strength of the nominee field this year. The music numbers for the Best Original Songs were a nice change of pace, but in a night were there were already four music numbers, I do not understand why we had to have Pink sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". And I know Bette Midler is a superstar of film and Broadway, but honestly, I can live happily for the rest of my life if I never hear the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" ever again. The producers really need to give us little toilet icons to tell us these segments are the perfect moments to have a bathroom break.
I guess I'm just bitter that after it took them nearly three hours to finally get to "Frozen"'s "Let It Go" they played the tempo too fast and too loud. Also John Travolta introduced Idina Manzele as "Adele Dazeem". He might be laughing now, but what if we were to refer to his Savior as "L. Hub Ronald"?
Whoever this Adele Dazeem is, she sure knows how to sing.
Beyond Tron Javolta's flub, the night had its normal mixture of ups and downs. Jim Carrey came out with his wacky energy at full volume. We haven't seen a Jim Carrey this Jim Carrey-ish in forever - since "Batman Forever", in fact. Then Harrison Ford could barely give enough of a shit to follow his teleprompter when introducing the first three Best Picture nominees. Somebody screwed up, causing him to introduce "Gravity" for a montage without it. More positively, the pillar of salt that once was known as Bill Murray gave a loving shot-out to his late friend, Harold Ramis.
On the plastic surgery front, the eighty-one-year-old Kim Novak looked absolutely horrifying with a butchered face, barely able to gargle her words out of her twitched collapsed cheeks with freakishly smooth skin. Either that or the Kim Novak we saw last night was actually a hyper-realistic dummy created by the Jim Henson Company. Back to John Travolta: you are not fooling anybody with that hair. The elderly Sidney Poitier seemed hardly able to stand when giving his speech, but thankfully allowed his face to remain natural and dignified, rather than becoming the Black Comedy that is Mrs. Novak*.
I predicted this would happen! I AM THE KWISATZ HADERACH!
In terms of awards, I am happy to say I got just about everything right! Check my Pre-Show post, I clearly I am a Prophet. Or more likely, last night's show was one of the most predictable Academy Awards in recent history, not that this was a bad thing. Everybody was in agreement about the major awards: "12 Years a Slave" for Best Picture, Cate Blanchett for Best Actress, Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor, Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor, "Gravity" for just about everything else. The only competitive race was between the lovely Lupita Nyong'o and the lovely Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, and I called that when Nyong'o pulled ahead. Turns out the Academy prefers an actress who gets whipped while tied to a tree over one who breaks Seventies-era microwaves, weird. I however, was wrong when it came to Best Director, which went to Alfonso Cauron for "Gravity" rather than my guess, Steve McQueen for "12 Years a Slave".
So I am sorry, audience, that I have failed you. Once this post is over I shall commit seppuku for my dishonor.
In terms of speeches, as always, some good were good, some were bad. Thankfully only one time did the producers shoo the winners off the stage with music, and unfortunately they wound up silencing Alfonso Cauron for his Best Editing award. Cate Blanchett's speech seemed to take roughly seven eternities. Steve McQueen was magnanimous enough to remind the world that twenty-one million people are still enslaved even today once "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture. But the very best acceptance speech, I feel, was Matthew McConaughey's. He was the only winner to thank God, and proudly told the world this is not yet the highlight of his career - his future self ten years from now has always been his hero, and always will be. And I'm sure the guy who starred in "Sahara" definitely needed inspiration from the guy who sharred in "Dallas Buyers Club". Just to top off his charming awesomeness, McConaughey had to sneak in a "alright, alright, alright".
You are so cool!
And finally, the Oscars were nice enough to conclude right when the clock struck twelve. Down to the very second. So I was able to catch a rerun of last night's "True Detective", starring none other than the Best Actor winner on HBO-2. Everything worked out perfectly fine for everybody.
Except for the losers**, of course. At least they got some pizza out of the deal.
So really, that finally closes the door on 2013 in film. The major awards are out, the winners have been chosen, and now cinephiles will happily ignore everything the Academy said and decide that "The Wolf of Wall Street" deserved to really win. Now we're deep into 2014, and I can conclude very honestly that nothing that has come out this year deserves even the slightest chance to make it to 2015's Oscar telecast. But that's how movies work. They blow their load in the fall, and leave all of winter to be that sad refectory period of boredom and shame. So maybe all these extremely talented people should stop partying already and get to making some entertainment already! I cannot stand another week of "Non-Stop".
* (I am such a bitch.)
** Speaking of losers: how in the name of shit-stained bloody anal fuck did that piece of shit "The Lone Ranger" get nominated for two Awards? How many dicks did Mickey Mouse have to suck to make that happen?