As predicted by everyone, including us, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Oscars (best actor and supporting actor, respectively) for their performances in the stirring fact-based AIDS-themed drama Dallas Buyers Club when the 86th Academy Awards were handed out in Hollywood Sunday night. Cate Blanchett, another popular winner, took home the statue for best actress for Woody Allen’s contemporary riff on Blanche DuBois in Blue Jasmine. Other big winners including best picture choice 12 Years a Slave, a harrowing look at slavery during the 19th century. The film also earned supporting actress honors for the stunningly beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, who made her film debut in the drama, and who gave what was perhaps the most memorable speech of the evening. Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron became the first Latino to win best director for helming the massive hit Gravity.
While McConaughey’s speech, in which he seemed to thank himself for being his own hero, confounded many viewers, Leto’s words were passionate and perfect. The actor, who won for his vivid portrayal of a transgender woman dying of AIDS, closed his remarks by saying, “This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. And to those of you who have ever felt injustice because of who you are and who you love, I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.”
Following the mixed reaction to last year’s irreverent host Seth MacFarlane, out super-producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron persuaded nice-lady comic Ellen DeGeneres to return as emcee after a seven year absence. DeGeneres delivered a relatively witty opening monologue (a joke about Jonah Hill’s penis went over especially well) but afterward most of her material seemed lackluster and her laborious running gag involving a pizza delivery was, well, cheesy. She did score a major victory by persuading numerous A-listers including Meryl Streep, Leto, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and others to join her for an epic selfie. DeGeneres tweeted the pic and encouraged viewers to help make it the most popular retweet of all time. The photo (below) was quickly retweeted more than two million times and caused Twitter to go down for a few seconds.
And what would a live broadcast be without the occasional gaffe? One of the biggest came from noted musical lover John Travolta, who butchered Idina Menzel’s name when he introduced her performance of the best song nominee (and eventual winner) “Let It Go” from Frozen, which also won best animated film. Travolta spouted something that sounded like Adele Dazeem, and a Twitter account for that name was launched immediately and tweets were sent out that mocked the star’s mispronunciation.
The Oscars are
notorious famous for the live musical productions. Iconic entertainer Bette Midler made her Academy Awards performing debut by singing her hit “The Wind Beneath My Wings” (a too obvious, if not downright maudlin choice) following the In Memoriam reel to honor film industry pros who died during the past twelve months.
To honor the 75th anniversary of the classic 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz, pop star Pink, clad in a ruby red slipper-inspired gown, performed a breathy, somber rendition of the Oscar-winning “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow.”
Friends Children of Dorothy, Liza Minnelli, Lorna and Joey Luft, nodded their approval from the audience.
The crowd in the Dolby Theatre seemed to be easily impressed for much of the evening. Standing ovations became so frequent that one began to wonder about whether blue-haired Minnelli, forever battling ill health, might need a knee replacement if forced to rise from her seat once more. We say that with love. Liza, indisputably one of the great entertainers of the past century and a best actress Oscar winner for her dazzling performance in 1972’s Cabaret, seemed a good sport throughout the evening, even during Ellen’s odd, mean-ish joke about Minnelli being a female impersonator, that landed with a thud and ended with the comic saying, “Good job, sir.” We wish we could say the same to you, Ellen.
For a full list of winners go here. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.