The 86th Annual Academy Awards were on Sunday night.
The show opened with comedy’s leading lady, Ellen DeGeneres, who was pitch perfect as host. She struck a brilliant balance of lightheartedness, reverence, and irreverence.
She did many of her shots from the floor of the theatre with the audience, delightfully humanizing giant stars like Meryl Streep and Brangelina. She did hilariously “low-brow” things like taking a star-studded selfie that crashed Twitter with well over 2 Million retweets. She even ordered pizza to share among those sitting front and center. Ellen’s warmth and charm bled through the screen and she was quite a delight to watch.
The big winners were:
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto
Leto thanked his mother in a touching speech about how she defied odds as a teenage single mother who dropped out of high school. He thanked her for embracing his creativity and encouraging him to dream.
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Documentary (Feature) - 20 Feet from Stardom
Prolific background singer Darlene Love belted a somewhat uncomfortable rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Though passionate, the vocal was a bit unfocused and seemed insincere. Love obviously wanted to be noticed…and remembered. She was.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o
Nyong’o was a vision in baby blue as she accepted her gold statue for her remarkable work in 12 Years a Slave.
She spoke from the heart in a moving speech thanking her collaborators, her family, and even Patsy herself:
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s; so I want to salute the spirit of Patsy for her guidance…”
She alluded to her Kenyan upbringing with the following poignant statement:
“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and everyone little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
P!nk sang a guttural “Somewhere over the Rainbow” in a memorable tribute to Judy Garland.
In Memoriam: introduced by Glenn Close, commemorated the work of a lengthy list of fallen stars, including (but not limited to):
James Gandolfini, Paul Walker, Annette Funicello, Shirley Temple Black, Juanita Moore, Julie Harris, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
No mention of Lee Thompson Young or James Avery, best known for TV work, but who both had modest film roles throughout their careers.
American treasure Bette Midler honored the fallen with a moving rendition of “You Are the Wind beneath My Wings,” the song that won her a Grammy in 1990.
Idina Menzel shakily sang “Let it Go” from Frozen. She seemed nervous but managed to get through the song- barely.
Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
Best Direction: Alfonso Curacao, Gravity
Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Dressed: Charlize Theron in a sultry Dior floor length black gown with sheer train.
Best Speech: Lupita Nyong’o
Best Moment: Pharrell performing an energetic and colorful “Happy” that featured the dance styling of Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams.
• Comedy icon Jim Carrey shined, literally, in a glimmering blue tuxedo jacket.
• Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented.
• Set Design was luxurious with giant life size Oscar statues, gold lighting, and one change in which the stage featured a tower of giant red roses.
• Living legend Sidney Poitier presented with Angelina Jolie.
Diversity seemed to be a quiet theme this year with Ellen leading the march. This year the American box office generated an estimated $11 Billion* with movies exploring a range of topics from slavery, immigration, and AIDS to space travel and computer love. It has been a landmark year for the film industry and the Academy truly presented a landmark show. The dry and forgettable performances (with the exception of P!nk and Pharrell) ensured that the nominees were the stars of the show and the speeches didn’t disappoint. Well done.
*According to the Holly Bureau of the NAACP