Alright alright alright! So that’s it then for another year; the Academy has treated us to an indelible multitude of treats and horrors for us to feast upon. On the whole, I would say that it was rather pretty good. There weren’t too many upsets (there was a big one and I’ll get to it later) and was un-disappointing as one could expect.
Entertainment and host wise it was very hit and miss for me. Now I have a rather neutral opinion of Ellen Degeneres, she’s okay I suppose, a decent enough chat host. Compare to the tragedy that was the perpetually painfully unfunny Seth McFarlane of last year however, she was a breath of fresh air. She was stable enough and didn’t rock the boat to hard. The running pizza gag ran its course very quickly and then there was that selfie. Which, in hindsight, was pretty cringe worthy (Yes okay, I retweeted it. Sue me). What can we expect though? The Oscars are a two hour show maximum stretched out over a five hour period. Like most people watching – I hope – I wanted less patting on the back (gee Hollywood aren’t you great) and more giving out awards. Can’t get everything you want though.
Right then, with that little throat clearance out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax gentlemen and gentlewomen. Before the Oscars I dabbled in predictions for the Oscars. And I’ll be glad to know, and you will too, that my predictions were pretty accurate. So let’s run through the proceedings of the night, starting at the top:
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Prediction: 12 Years a Slave
Yes Yes Yes! For a second there, I was actually nervous, Gravity had been picking up all sorts of awards and it looked like Cuaron’s big night. But Steve McQueen’s masterpiece stole the thunder and made history. As I said in my review, it truly was the best film of the year, by quite some distance so it was very rewarding to see the Oscar voters reflect that. McQueen’s speech was well measured and hopeful and ultimately reflects the discussion that has taken place because of the film.
The other nominees were great and all (except you American Hustle) but they can’t hold a candle to 12 Years a Slave. So, on the night, the right decision was made.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey
No real surprise here, could it really be anyone else? His speech was a little rambling but we got all the ‘McConaughisms’ from it. Ejiofor was equally deserving in my opinion for his terrific performance in 12 Years a Slave, but I suppose McConaughey is just irresistible. Secretly though, I would’ve liked to have seen Leonardo DiCaprio win, chin up Leo, there’s always next year.
And I was right. Go me.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett
Yep. I didn’t make a prediction beforehand due to my ineptitude at viewing the right films. I had heard that Blanchett was pretty much nailed on to win. So no surprises really.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto
Ouch, I was wrong. Not taking anything away from Leto’s performance though, it really was an oscar worthy performance. I still prefer Fassbender’s performance, I’ll stay on record there. But I can see why Leto won, so it’s no biggie.
I’d like to take this opportunity to address the backlash from the transgender community. I understand their frustration; representation is very important to minority groups but to heckle and criticise Jared Leto himself seems like they’re aiming their anger in the wrong place. Leto has been nothing but courteous and his portrayal of Rayon was pretty much perfect. If transgender folk have problems with Rayon then take it up with the film. Arguments like “why not get a trans person to play the character?” are completely redundant, it’s called acting. Sean Penn and James Franco aren’t gay, yet they were allowed to portray (and did an excellent) homosexual characters in Milk. I’m sure there are a ton of great trans actors/actresses out there but Leto is also a fine actor. They are however, right to state that it’s not a sexuality issue, but a gender issue. Two very different kettles of fish. To wit: the problem should be with the film, not the actor. I’m sure we’ll get many more portrayals and representations of transgender people in the future, and that’s partly down to the critical success of Dallas Buyers’ Club.
Aimless diatribe over. Apologies.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o
And the award for the best speech goes to… Lupita Nyong’o
Really heartwarming to see her win, and thoroughly deserved. She brought life , vitality and strength to Patsy, transforming a supporting character into one of the main sources of drama in the film. Correct decision for the Oscars
Best Director, Visual Effects, Cinematography, Sound Editing & Mixing and Original Score: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
No surprise that Cuaron’s space/sci fi film Gravity took all the technical awards. I wouldn’t argue for visual effects, and sound editing and mixing (can someone tell me the difference between the two?). I’d contend that while cinematographically it was stunning I’d say that Nebraska’s cinematography was better and that 12 Years a Slave‘s was even better. Then again, Emmanuel Lubezki has it coming.
Deservingly won the Best Original Score, it was a significant part of why the film was bloody tense.
No real contentions for Cuaron’s win for director, McQueen must have been in hot contention but as I said previously, it is the most directed film of the year. Without Cuaron, or anyone as talented, Gravity would’ve fallen back down to Earth.
Best Film in a Foreign Language: The Great Beauty
Poor ‘The Hunt’. I believed in you. I haven’t seen The Great Beauty but it must be pretty great to beat ‘The Hunt’
Best Documentary Feature: 20 Feet From Stardom
HOW DID THE ACT OF KILLING NOT WIN? JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER WAS ROBBED!!
The Act of Killing was an astonishing film. Harrowing, dark, incisive and impactful. It has allowed Indonesia to finally have a discussion about the killings of 1965-1966. As always, the utterly smashy Film Crit Hulk got it SO right in his tweet
SO HOLLYWOOD PICKED THE MOVIE ABOUT UNDER-APPRECIATED HOLLYWOOD PEOPLE OVER THE DOC THAT GOT A COUNTRY TO FACE GENOCIDE? SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT.
It’s just Hollywood patting itself on the back I suppose. Seriously, if you haven’t already, seek out The Act of Killing. By all rights, it should’ve also been nominated for Best Picture instead of mediocrity like American Hustle.
Well that about wraps it up, I would just like to send congratulations for Frozen for winning Best Animated Feature and Best Song. Well deserved. I like to make fun of the run up to Oscars but really, it gives us a lot of actually great films to sink our teeth into and now we have to put with a sea of pure dreck in our cinemas. I suppose this gives me time to
watch True Detective again, and again, and again do work.
Just keep livin’.