It's like that old saying: If a really good Oscars falls in the woods, does a photo recap make a noise? Wait, that didn't work, let me rephrase it. The only fear that a photo recap has to fear is the fear of a good Oscars? Dang, that made even less sense, hold up. Okay got it: The Oscars don't need no hateration/holleration in the dancery that is this photo recap. Perfect, nailed it.
Dearest friends, this year's Oscars was fantastic. Don't argue, not yet. Just be chill and sit back and let this sensual sensation wash over you: Oscars 2014 was one of the best Oscars in years or even decades maybe, who knows/cares, I don't remember that far back. But the main thing is, THIS year's was very good. Do you know how I know? Multiple reasons.
I have other reasons, trust me. I might even share them with you if you want me to. That is what the internet's for, right, to just deliver and also consume a steady stream of opinions? Look, don't be mad, but I truly don't care about other peoples' opinions that much and maybe neither should you. Frozen is bad though. Okay again, that was probably a mistake to say that again so soon after the last time I said it, I don't want people all sore at me now. But listen: I really liked the Oscars this year. I don't mean to sound defensive but pretty much the only thing I didn't like about the Oscars is how almost everyone I know on the internet has terrible opinions it turns out? Like, insincere, learned lazy snark that when taken as a whole just feels like nihilism? I don't care for it to be honest. Let's enjoy entertainment as individuals from now on LOL okay I realize that's not going to happen, but we can try? Let's just watch things and not care what the hive mind says. Which I realize I am a part of. What am I talking about? The Oscars.
The thing is, when Oscars are this solid across the board, is a snark-free photo recap even necessary? Like, should we just shake hands and go our own separate ways or do we still go through this thing? Why don't I just start talking and you can decide later.
Here I go, let's talk about these very good Oscars!
So, first, ten minutes before the show started, a Queen Alien came out and laid all the baby Oscar eggs all over the stage. It was disgusting! But a lot of the circle of life is disgusting, so who am I to complain about God's will?
Like I said, Ellen was surprisingly great. She's one of those celebrities to whom I gave a free pass back in the day when she came out on her sitcom, but it was the kind of free pass where I was like, "Okay, cool, go do whatever you want, I'm probably not going to pay attention." So I expected her to bring that same kind of daytime talk show, mom-friendly stuff she does, but nope! She said borderline mean things to the celebrities! It was surprising and made everything feel kind of electric! I don't know the last time I've seen Ellen just casually make fun of people without apology. If she were a male comedian these would be gentle ribbings, but something about it being a lady in a tuxedo telling people off was pretty great.
I liked when she singled out Lupita Nyong'o right off the bat—except look at that supervillain sitting behind her! Watch out, girl!
This is what June Squibb looked like when Ellen made a joke about her being super old.
And Barkhad Abdi looked straight-up confused when Ellen was making sommelier jokes in his direction.
Liza Minnelli looked like this for most of the night, to be honest. But especially here when Ellen called her a male Liza Minnelli impersonator.
Nicholas Hoult and his unidentified ladyfriend both looked great but especially Nicholas Hoult.
I also liked the part where Ellen called out the celebrities for not having gone to college. That made me laugh! And also when she made a joke that if 12 Years a Slave didn't win Best Picture then everybody in the room was a racist. Guys, I don't know what to tell you, but Ellen did a great job of knocking the wind out of people but also keeping things light and cheery. I know that is her trademark, but I still expected her jokes to be way more harmless. Credit where credit's due!
Anne Hathaway returned from exile to present Best Supporting Actor. I am a Hathaway defender, she seems nice and she's very talented and I think something about her taps into this weird mean-girl instinct that a lot of people have deep within them. But in this specific moment she was kind of annoying! I think it had to do with Ellen's casualness immediately before. Then Anne Hathaway came out like she was in a poise competition and seemed very robotic and wealthy (?) and ugh, I get it. I mean she's still a talented actress, but I guess I get it. Anyway, this guy won:
The speech was fine. I haven't seen Dallas Buyers Club because it looks like the last movie I ever need to see in my lifetime. But good for him? Jared Leto thanked all the important people including but not limited to "the dreamers in Ukraine and Venezuela." The biggest part though was when he thanked his mom:
Can you imagine how bittersweet this moment must've been for her? Proudly watching her son accept an Oscar with the full knowledge that he's also responsible for 30 Seconds to Mars? Gotta take the bad with the good sometimes.
Remember when the nation was absolutely nuts for the comedy stylings of Jim Carrey? Like, to the extent that it turned Batman Forever into a blockbuster hit? Jim Carrey and that rubber mug were instant gold. But now he's this weird sad spectacle who was met by the confused, glazed expressions of an uncomprehending audience. Better luck next time, Jim Carrey. Anyway, he introduced a montage of animated heroes because the theme of the night was superheroes and a lot of heroes are animated, I guess. This montage was very Pixar heavy, but it also included ParaNorman and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, so nobody's complaining there. But WHERE WAS THE IRON GIANT? I was so shocked from the omission I nearly collapsed.
Then Kerry Washington introduced Pharrell, finally. He sang a terrible song from Despicable Me 2, but on the upside he ran into the crowd and shimmied with Lupita Nyong'o!
And also this lady:
Amy Adams jumped up too, but it seemed a little too mom's-had-white-wine to be any kind of fun.
Then Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson came out to announce a couple of the art categories. The best part was hearing Naomi Watts' serious accent when she had to say "Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa."
Baz Luhrmann's wife won for doing costumes on The Great Gatsby. Seemed fair! A majority of Baz Luhrmann's movies are unwatchable and she's probably responsible for a lot of that, but still. Congrats, you two!
Any acceptance speech that ends with "and finally, to the victims of AIDS," is a GOOD acceptance speech. These ladies won an Oscar for making Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto look like they had AIDS.
Harrison Ford came out and started angrily growling about how our hedges are creeping over his fence or whatever. Just kidding, he introduced three of the Best Picture nominees and boy did he seem irritated about it.
Channing Tatum came out wearing clothes and introduced the night's ushers, who are usually statuesque lady models but not this night! No, tonight they are young filmmaker contest winners or something.
Honestly, I was hoping for more diversity. This tableau was very problematic to me.
Throughout the night Ellen did tons of crowd work and a lot of it was very charming. In this case she sort of startled Leonardo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock by popping up between them and throwing to commercial. Keepin' those A-listers on their toes!
In this part she offered Bradley Cooper some scratchers after he lost to Jared Leto. It was cute and made me laugh, deal w/it.
Speaking of cute things that make me laugh, the legendary Kim Novak walked out alongside Matthew McConaughey and made NO sense. Quick question, is there a form of plastic surgery that can make the brain more youthful? Because here in L.A. there are tons of these ladies who have young-ish faces but also the addled brains of people who should be in assisted care facilities. Kim Novak is a living legend and she's an 81-year-old who looks decades younger, but she could not string together a coherent sentence to save her life. Sorry. In my opinion if there are any aging, millionaire starlets reading this, please don't become a plastic surgery ghoul. The brain just won't match.
Then these guys won for whatever.
Frozen is the poor man's Wicked and believe me Wicked was already very affordable to poor men. Frozen is a bad, predictable movie with a good message (I think?), so fine. The most flabbergasting thing about Frozen is that people think the music is good? The music is not good. It is not good. "Let It Go" is particularly terrible. It's all so bad that I'm straight-up curious about what's going on in the zeitgeist that brought us to this point. Mass hysteria? Thirst for singing, any kind of singing, in a movie? Oh god, and the terrible snowman comic relief? Or the vague, rule-free premise of how her magic worked? Or those ugly troll creatures who only exist to sell toys? Frozen is very, very bad. Why is the entire population making such a weird mistake here? Anyway, Frozen is definitely bad and it's a movie nobody will like even a year from now, it'll be a forgotten curio like The King's Speech, but fine, it seems like a lot of very nice people made it so that's the silver lining here. The makers of Frozen seem nice.
This was a funny bit Ellen did about not hitting her mark. I'm still mad about Frozen still, to be honest. Monsters U, which was not the greatest movie, was 1,000 percent better than Frozen. At least Monsters U didn't have Idina Menzel SCREAMING at us for minutes on end.
Sally Field introduced a montage of live action heroes. I mean, it's like some marketing department was like, "Let's make a Christmas movie but non-denominational, just use snowflakes and snowmen and stuff, that way it'll be an annual classic with tons of resale potential but it'll be more universal. We'll stuff in a ton of forgettable, interchangeable songs laced with meaningless platitudes and modern colloquialisms and we can even market certain matinees as singalong shows. More money." Ugh. Anyway, this montage was fine.
I only like one of these people and she does NOT speak in a phony accent.
In my opinion, with special effects like these The Hobbit 2 did not deserve to win.
The Gravity team won almost all the technical awards of the night. That seemed about right. Gravity was a technical marvel and it would've been nothing without these heroes. Good choice!
Then Zac Efron came out to introduce Karen O's musical performance and he looked utterly terrified. It was very charming! Okay, I will admit that Jonathan Groff was very charming in Frozen, I'll give him credit there.
Ugh, the shoes killed me. Ouch, my heart. This was 2.5 minutes of perfection. Karen O and Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend are in that weird niche where they're too successful for hipsters but too obscure for mainstream America, so I will go ahead and be the dumb middle-of-the-road viewer who points out what a BIG DEAL this was. The lead singer of the YEAH YEAH YEAHS dueting with EZRA FROM VAMPIRE WEEKEND on a song from a Spike Jonze movie? The Oscars didn't DESERVE this! Her was my favorite movie out of all the nominees, and "Moon Song" was not only the only nominated original song that's not completely dreadful, but actually a wonderful song on its own terms and this performance made my heart race it was so understated and lovely. The polar opposite of "Let It Go"'s screechy, empty theatrics. This was probably my highlight of the evening. Sincerely great. I mean it.
Jason Sudeikis seemed mad about something, doesn't matter.
These guys. Their short was about a Holocaust survivor, which feels like cheating.
John Stamos was LOL'ing right after the Brown Blazer dude was interrupted by the orchestra while trying pay tribute to the subject of his film who had just died. John Stamos don't care.
Bradley Cooper handed out the documentary prizes, and it should go without saying that in a year with difficult yet incredible documentaries like The Square and The Act of Killing, the voters went and handed it to the feel-good pick. Much like last year's exercise in horse-sh*t Searching for Sugar Man, 20 Feet from Stardom was the undeserving crowd-pleaser. But you know what? It's hard to be mad about this when it means Darlene Love will bum rush the mic and belt out an improvised a cappella jam!
It was legitimately wonderful because Darlene Love is legitimately wonderful. Don't believe me? Look who jumped up FIRST and started a standing ovation:
Kevin Spacey came out and did his character from House of Cards. That is his party trick now. He also did a Jack Lemmon impersonation? Kevin Spacey has two party tricks is what I'm trying to say.
These were honorary Oscars handed out a few nights earlier. We didn't get to hear their full acceptance speeches but Steve Martin was nearly crying in his.
Angela Lansbury seemed great but that's probably because somebody backstage was murdered and also a tiny chipped cup was hopping around at her feet. Those are my Angela Lansbury jokes, did you like them?
I don't know who this lady was but she seemed nice.
Does anyone know if Jennifer Aniston is okay?
The award for Most Surprising Ponytail went to Ewan McGregor! I love a formal ponytail and especially when actors show up to awards shows with ponytails that you did NOT expect them to have. This was a real treat.
Tyler Perry introduced three more Best Picture nominees, including Nebraska, Her, and Gravity. I wonder if, when he was describing their plots, he finally realized what a good movie sounds like? Do you think he ran outside and sat in his Camry and furiously scribbled out a new idea with a coherent story that people might be interested in watching? Stay tuned.
Amy Adams checked her phone while Tyler Perry was talking. Maybe she fell in love with her OS? That is a Her reference. Did you see Her? You should see Her.
Brad Pitt still got it. Remember when he played Achilles? I loved those days. Anyway, he introduced U2.
This was an aggressively terrible song that Bono wrote for that Nelson Mandela movie nobody saw. Oh gosh, it pains me because Bono seems like a nice guy who does tons of good work for the world, but why did it have to be at the expense of his artistic integrity? Obviously early U2 is jam-packed with good stuff, but even as recently as Zooropa they were firing on all cylinders creatively. Now it's all phoned-in dad rock all the time. They are the new Rolling Stones I guess. I mean we've known this for a while, but this performance was a rude reminder.
Ellen went into the crowd with her dumb too-big phone and took selfies with celebrities. It was actually fun to watch! The energy was so awkward that it felt thrilling and it's always fun seeing these humanizing situations in my opinion. Liza Minnelli gave great duckface.
This massive group shot was a feast for the senses.You can't really see her, but Liza Minnelli is standing behind Channing Tatum too short to make it in the shot but she's resting a hand on his bicep like that's enough. Also it's weird seeing an unplanned smile from Angelina Jolie? Nice! But weird. Unsettling! But no complaints.
Look at these two. They did the technical awards a few days prior. Usually the Academy has hot young starlets do the hosting, but now it looks like they're going co-ed with it? So they found a hunk AND a babe to do it together this year and these were good choices! Michael B. Jordan and Kristen Bell are tops in my book. Just Grade-A lookers. And their resumés!
I don't remember what happened at this point because I took one look at these people, lost consciousness and astral projected into a volcano because at least in there it was LESS HOT than these two. Gosh almighty.
More Gravity winners. Seemed about right.
Now it was Supporting Actress time! And yep, you guessed it:
Lupita Nyong'o won and the room erupted into what could be described as abject catharsis. YES. We needed this. She is the best.
But imagine how weird this experience must have been for her. On the one hand, she had just won an Oscar. On the other, she was suddenly staring John Travolta square in the face.
And then she was getting nearly tackled by Liza Minnelli in the aisle.
But she made it to the stage and delivered the night's best speech. Heartfelt, off-the-cuff, articulate, emotional, necessary. It was so good, trust me. Or don't trust me and just Google it, see if I care. I will care, because it was that good.
Then Ellen ordered pizza and spent what felt like 20 minutes handing out paper plates and slices and not ONCE was I bored. Honestly this pizza party situation was one of the most riveting things I've ever seen, if only because of how funny Liza Minnelli was behaving in the background. But also yeah, seeing starving A-list actresses alternating between extreme lust and brutal rejection of that pizza was just a psycho-trauma soap opera for the ages. Brilliant.
The president lady came out and yammered about whatever. Then she started bragging that the Academy was building some new thing in Los Angeles to celebrate themselves and it looked TERRIBLE.
So let me get this straight, even when it's FINISHED and looking all polished in a best-case-scenario sketch drawing, this building will look like an under-construction piece of garbage? Forever? Keep that brokedown planetarium out of my city!
But THIS sketch was truly chilling:
Seems nice enough, right? But look who's lurking in the bottom corner!
It's George Clooney and he is MAD at somebody. Why is George Clooney up in that poor man's Epcot shouting? Who is he berating? A waiter? An Academy member? Vin Diesel? And why is Halle Berry hanging back all laughing about it?
Honestly, kill this project. Kill it before it brings too much drama to this town. We don't need that.
Bill Murray was the best presenter of the night and Amy Adams did her best to stay on his level. He casually flirted with her and tossed off tiny one-liners, like referring to the Cinematography nominees as "Best Shooters." And then after reading the nominees he snuck in a mention for Harold Ramis, which was such an Animal House thing to do. Touching and hilarious and a major highlight. I don't want to keep talking about it because I don't like how emotions make me feel.
Remember when Gabourey Sidibe masturbated in front of a minotaur?
Gravity was still on a roll here. In this case Alfonso Cuaron actually won an Oscar because he co-edited. Or was it just because he used so many unbroken shots that the editor was grateful that Cuaron made his job easier and handed him half the credit? Either way.
Somebody named "Whoopi" came out and showed off her hooker shoes.
Oh, it was a tribute to The Wizard of Oz. I don't know why Pink got to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" instead of Liza Minnelli, but she did a great job. I am serious. There was no dumb rope climbs or whatever Pink does for a living now, it was just very good singing. Loud and imperfect and full of emotion, not just the mannered screaming that so many other divas do. I really, really liked this performance sincerely.
Follow-up joke. Except it happened after a commercial break and my brain was NOT about to move backward like that.
More awards were given out. These two helped with that.
More Great Gatsby stuff. Sure, why not?
Then Chris Evans introduced a montage of high-concept superheroes, which was multiple clips of Harry Potter and Superman (Henry Cavill ONLY because it's like I was in charge of this montage somehow? (I loved Man of Steel, full disclosure)) but then also the speech from Independence Day! Boy did I love this montage. Except I think the person who edited it hadn't actually seen Beasts of the Southern Wild? Because WHAT ON EARTH?
One of these things is not like the others. It's THIS MOVIE that is not like the others. It is very good and visually arresting, but a genre superhero movie? Not really. Oh well, not a complaint. Good montage. I love montages. Even dead people montages.
JEEZ, A LOT of heavy-hitters passed away this year. Unsurprisingly, this guy got the prestigious final slot:
Devastating. I feel like I am mad at him for doing this to us, but that is probably a normal reaction to death. Let's not talk about it.
Then Bette Midler came out and sang the most hilarious asshole ballad of all time. Seriously, have you ever really thought about the lyrics to "Wind Beneath My Wings"? This person is an asshole! It's still a very good song and Bette Midler did her best! I was very into it.
I appreciated this, Oscars. They knew that a certain level of film industry success was necessary to sit alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini in the main montage, but they also wanted to honor the incredible grassroots movement to celebrate the late Sarah Jones (and bring awareness to someone who was almost literally killed by the film industry). I feel like this separate-but-equal thing worked well enough, what did you think?
UHHHHH AND THEN THIS INSTANTLY FAMOUS THING HAPPENED:
Two things. The slip-up was indeed hilarious. He garbled every syllable of Idina Menzel's name and he did it with CONVICTION. But second of all THAT WIG. I didn't know you could get a wig version of a wedge haircut. Who on earth would request that? Holy jeez. That's a mid-'90s, Sam-the-neighbor-kid-from-Clarissa-style haircut! Anyway, all of this was perfect, just the whole scenario.
Oh boy. This performance was straight-up DREADFUL. "Let It Go" is obviously terrible, we all know this, we discussed it earlier. Its lyrics are meaningless platitudes and they make very little sense even in the context of the movie (is the moral that letting it go is good or bad, Frozen? Which is it? Is ice magic a metaphor for being gay or unusual or original? But it murders people? Just what the F*CK is Frozen even about?), and even the vowel sounds in the phrase 'let it go' are just not conducive to a soaring hook. It's all so badly conceived in every respect and there will come a day when fans of this song and movie will feel foolish. ON TOP OF THAT Idina Menzel EFFED THIS UP. You can see in her eyes she knew she was off-beat and missing melodies and her final, shrieked note was just a nightmare. Man, the standing ovation she received just made it all worse as she stood there visibly ashamed of herself. But that honestly summed up Frozen perfectly. A standing ovation for a bad situation. Sorry, everybody. Frozen is not good and this song and performance are like Exhibit A.
Then Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel did the music awards. I liked how weird Jamie Foxx got, specifically because we needed a palate cleanser after that Idina Menzel disaster. He sorta improvised and riffed out some music while Biel read the teleprompter. So uncomfortable, and exactly what I like about awards shows.
Gravity won for music. Which is notable in that Gravity barely has any music.
These people wrote the songs from Frozen. The husband half of this team worked on Avenue Q and Book of Mormon, so I guess that means Frozen is HER fault. Yeah, those cloying, cutesy, forgettable lyrics definitely seem like this lady's doing. I mean they seem nice, though. They scripted out their acceptance speech, which is annoying, but that is their right. I too hope that their children—who were given speaking roles in Frozen—will follow their dreams.
The pizza bit kept going! Here Ellen passed around Pharrell's hat and Harvey Weinstein managed to put in $200 for the pizza and STILL look like a jerk. Kevin Spacey personally tipped Ellen and then Lupita Nyong'o put in her lip balm. Again, all so awkward and unexpected. I loved it. I just felt like I was learning so much more about these celebrities than I ever knew before.
Then Penelope Cruz and her friend presented, as she pronounced it, "Bes Scrimply." And if you like SHADE, this was delicious:
The 12 Years a Slave screenwriter cut director Steve McQueen a dirty look and walked right on by, while McQueen didn't even turn to look at him. Ugh, so good.
And then after he finished his (intense) speech, here's how Steve McQueen clapped:
HAHAHAHAH. Oh man. Yes. More. So good.
Then my boyfriend Spike Jonze won Best Original Screenplay for Her. Sighhhhhhh.
Then Sidney Poitier and the White Sidney Poitier came out arm-in-arm, but it was unclear who was holding whom up. They presented the Oscar for Best Director.
Alfonso Cuaron won and immediately face-palmed his wife, so that was an interesting choice.
Guys, for real, Alfonso Cuaron is our generation's Hitchcock. His films will be studied and marveled at for decades after he's dead and gone and people will be astounded that one man made so many classics. We are truly lucky to be living in an age when Alfonso Cuaron is at his prime and releasing films in the present tense. Have I mentioned that Gravity is a great film? I definitely agreed with this decision.
Then Daniel Day-Lewis came out and did his civic duty!
Not going to lie, I am at death's doorstep right now I'm so tired; thinking about Frozen has worn me out. But Cate Blanchett was obviously amazing in Blue Jasmine so this was a no-brainer, and her speech was funny and articulate and lovely because she's an old pro at this now. She made a good point about female-centered cinema and also thanked her theater repertory group or something. It was great. Cate Blanchett is great. Oh and she thanked Woody Allen for writing the screenplay, a small but understandable obligation on her part.
I am no Joan Rivers, but I don't like this at all. Also is Jennifer Lawrence just trolling us now? Her everywoman schtick was great at first, but now it seems a little phoned-in. In this case she came out and pantomimed beef with someone in the audience but nobody knew what she was talking about and nobody laughed and it felt like the honeymoon is definitely over. Oh well. Let's talk about Nicholas Hoult again. Slower.
Matthew McConaughey won, which, fine, he is a national treasure. I love True Detective. I did not love his speech. Maybe he tricked you into loving his speech because he is charming and energetic, but the actual content of his speech was a lot of garbage, sorry. Junk about how he's his own hero and family and God and his dad is I guess a stereotype cartoon ghost? No mention of AIDS or anything like that, but he did quote himself from Magic Mike and also drop his catch-phrase which is also his production company name "Just Keep Livin." So yeah. He did it! I liked his white jacket, that was nice. Please don't overdo it like Jennifer Lawrence is doing, Matthew McConaughey. You worked hard to get back to the top, don't blow it.
I didn't know who this person was, but I loved his ascot.
Oh, 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture! The classic director-picture split! And honestly? SO APPROPRIATE. Cuaron deserved Best Director and 12 Years a Slave was the better movie, so BINGO. This felt so good and just and correct.
Did you laugh when they showed where Steve McQueen's mum was sitting?
Aw, poor lady.
McQueen was in the middle of a very long and rambling speech and my DVR straight-up quit in the middle of it. Because OH YEAH this thing ran MORE than 30 minutes long. So I'm not sure how his speech ended up or if Ellen came out and did any final jigs or whatever. Hopefully this will suffice:
BOOM. Timely Ellen joke. Did you like it?
Guys, I ended up complaining more than I thought but that is not the Oscars' fault, that is Frozen's fault. Jump in a dumpster, Frozen. More like Fraudzen. But in general this was my favorite Oscars perhaps of all time. I liked it. I liked the montages. I liked how long it was, I liked the design of it, I liked the movies, and I liked Ellen. What more do you need to know? Case closed. Gavel bang. Golf claps. We did it.
... Did you think Ellen did a great job or would you have preferred Wendy Williams as a host?
... What was your favorite scene in 12 Years a Slave?
... No seriously, has anybody heard from Jennifer Aniston?
... What's worse, Frozen or Wicked?
AIRED ON 2/28/2016
Season 88 : Episode 1