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And the Academy Award goes to…

Some will have difficulty finding fault with Ellen DeGeneres’ hosting of the 86th Academy Awards Sunday night on ABC, especially since it was the highest rated telecast in 10 years. I thought she brought the right amount of humor the keep the ceremony lively and really set the tone of the evening where diversity was celebrated. The historical drama “12 Years a Slave” took home the Oscar for Best Picture. Actor Brad Pitt; one of the film’s producers led off the acceptance speech by thanking the Academy. Pitt said,

On Sunday March 2, 2014 Hollywood gathered for the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto pose with their Oscars.
On Sunday March 2, 2014 Hollywood gathered for the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto pose with their Oscars.
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Ellen hosted the highest rated Oscars telecast in 10 years on ABC Sunday night.
Andrew Eccles/ABC

Thank you for this incredible honor you bestowed on our film tonight. I know I speak for everyone standing behind me that it has been an absolute privilege to work on Solomon’s story. And we all get to stand up here tonight because of one man who brought us all together to tell that story. And that is the indomitable Mr. Steve McQueen.

Pitt introduced the film’s director Steve McQueen. His directing credits include the 2008 film “Hunger” and 2011’s “Shame” both starring Michael Fassbender. McQueen thanked Brad Pitt for his support saying “without him this film would just not have been made.” McQueen concluded his speech by saying,

Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.

“12 Years a Slave” also won for Best Supporting Actress with Kenyan born Lupita Nyong'o taking home the Oscar. In her emotional speech, Nyong’o thanked director Steve McQueen for her good fortune since making the film. She said,

Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. 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. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own. Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position. This has been the joy of my life. I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I…

When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from your dreams are valid.

Rounding out the diversity in the top categories is Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron who won Best Directing for “Gravity”. Cuaron’s most notable films include “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Children of Men”.

Matthew McConaughey’s dramatic transformation for the film “Dallas Buyers Club” earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The actor shared a long and loving kiss with his wife before heading up to the stage to accept his award. In a move that is often criticized in the press, the Texas native thanked God.

There’s a few things, about three things to my account that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase. Now, first off, I want to thank God. ‘Cause that’s who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late Charlie Laughton, who said, “When you’ve got God, you got a friend. And that friend is you.”

Also taking home the golden statuette; Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor in “Dallas Buyers Club”. Leto is best known for his role in the MTV drama “My So-Called Life” and as the vocal lead in the rock band Thirty Second to Mars.

Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the film “Blue Jasmine”. This is the second Oscar for the Australian actress. She won Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for “The Aviator”.

Of all the evenings acceptance speeches I think I liked Matthew McConaughey’s speech the best.

There’s a few things, about three things to my account that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase. Now, first off, I want to thank God. ‘Cause that’s who I look up to….

To my family, that who and what I look forward to…

And to my hero. That’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say “who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “not even close. No, no, no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.

So, to any of us, whatever those things are, whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to, and whoever it is we’re chasing, to that I say, “Amen.” To that I say, “Alright, alright, alright.” To that I say “just keep living.” Thank you.

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