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Oscar Wrap-Up: The McQueen clap heard round the world

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Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

The Oscars were last night and here are some of my thoughts:

The Host: OK, so she crashed Twitter by posting a selfie…big woop. No dancing and not that funny, Ellen DeGeneres earns a solid C+ as she brought her casual daytime television sensibility to this black tie event. Basically doing the same song and dance (again, she didn’t dance) that she does during her own talk show, that is, give a chuckle inducing opening monologue (which included a lazily constructed Liza Minnelli joke) walk through the aisles and chat it up with the audience and take tons of selfies (which I don’t think she does on her show, but was annoying just the same). Throw in a few pantsuit changes and you pretty much have her full contribution for the night. Which leaves me to ask the question: She was given months to prepare for the biggest night in Hollywood and this is all we get?! That is not to say DeGeneres wasn’t at all funny. Between a few quippy one-liners and a bit where she ordered pizza for everyone in the front row, I would say that she was almost to the level of a female Billy Crystal; just without the sketches and composure.

The Winners and Losers: There were no real surprises last night (even though I only was able to go 17 for 24 on my predictions). From the blowhard Jared Leto winning for best Supporting Actor (because he wore a dress) to the end of the show when “12 Years a Slave” was presented the Oscar for Best Picture by the man who picked up a Razzie for worst supporting actor, Will Smith, everyone pretty much won who was supposed to win #LeoWasRobbed. Gravity picked up nearly every secondary award (including Visual Effects, Original Score, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing) and Best Director, Bad Grandpa and Leonardo DiCaprio both went home empty handed, the Disney movie won and Jennifer Lawrence fell again (this time before the show). Predictable? Very. If there was any kind of real upset, it was Spike Jonze taking home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Her”; even though every hipster you ask will say that “Her” was the favorite going in.

The live performances: There was a bunch of heavy hitters that took the stage this year. And nearly all of them were underwhelming. Those who performed included U2 singing “Ordinary Love” from the movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, Pharrell performing “Happy” for the umpteenth time and the woman from “Wicked” singing “Let it Go” right after John Travolta obliterated her name when introducing her. The night of performances was capped off with Bette Midler reminding us all how savagely outdated both her and “Wind Beneath My Wings” truly are, as she belted it out during the “in memoriam” portion of the show (an “in memoriam” which proved that the Academy doesn’t give a damn about camera assistants). But one performance did rise above, as Pink performed “Over the Rainbow” during a tribute to Judy Garland and the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz”.

Overall, the most entertaining highlights would include Matthew McConaughey giving the motivational speech of the night after winning for Best Lead Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club”, the whole Ellen pizza thing and the multiple camera angles of Sidney Poitier looking disappointed at the world around him. But clearly the more interesting storyline of the night was the briefly captured, but tension filled open feud between director Steve McQueen and writer John Ridley. An extremely interesting article about it can be read here: http://www.thewrap.com/oscars-rift-fight-john-ridley-steve-mcqueen-12-ye...

Final Thought: All in all it was a serviceable if not rather predictable Oscars, with some memorable acceptances and some “isn’t that nice” moments. I give the entire night a passing grade, which translates to: I never had the urge to turn the channel, but don’t think I would sit through it again.

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus

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