The Oscars 2014

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Perhaps the best word to describe this year’s Academy Awards would be predictable. In every major category, and most of the smaller ones, the favourite won, which lead to a night of few surprises. That’s not to say that this year’s Oscars were lacking in enjoyment – there was plenty to discuss and plenty to retweet.

After last year’s controversial host, Seth MacFarlane, the Academy decided to invite chat show veteran Ellen DeGeneres back to run the proceedings after previously hosting back in 2007. She was considered a safe choice and that definitely showed. Of course safe doesn’t mean bad, Ellen is a well-loved TV personality because she has a genuine charm and likeability about her. Perhaps the only misstep for her was a running gag about ordering pizza that felt rather forced particularly when Ellen dragged a pizza delivery man on stage and handed out slices to crowd, though Leonardo DiCaprio’s face was hilarious when the pizza was offered to him.

The night opened with ‘Best Supporting Actor’, an award that was Jared Leto’s from the start for his remarkable performance in Dallas Buyers Club. After opening with one of the major awards of the night the show veered into the more technical awards; Gravity was far and away the winner here, winning best special effects, cinematography, sound mixing, editing and original score. The Great Gatsby also did surprisingly well in nabbing two awards,  American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street both went away emptied handed.

Fan favourite Frozen took ‘Best Animated Film’ with relative ease; there probably would have been a huge outcry if the award had gone to anything else. Throughout the night the four nominees for ‘Best Original Song’ were performed live. ‘Let it Go’ performed by Idian Menzel from Frozen was the favourite and eventual winner. What was strange was that Menzel gave probably the weakest performance of the night, though watching Bono gyrate on stage was equally unpleasant during U2’s performance of ‘Ordinary Love’ from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

During one of the all too frequent breaks from the awards, Ellen walked into the crowd, Samsung phone at the ready, and declared she was going to try and break the world record for the most retweeted photo. Originally the plan was to take a selfie with Meryl Streep but soon other stars got involved including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Brad Pitt, to take a rather star-studded picture. After the photo was posted it quickly broke the previous record (currently having over 3 million retweets). Sure, it felt like the Academy was desperately trying to cater towards the younger audience but it was all in good fun.

Record breaking tweets aside, perhaps the most notable occurrence of the night was the serious case of “foot in mouth” syndrome that seemed to be sweeping the Dolby Theatre, presenter after presenter flubbed there lines. These professional actors seemed to have real trouble reading a script, constantly stumbling over their lines and mispronouncing names. This all came to a head in what was easily the funniest moment of the night when John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel and butchered her name to a truly ridiculous degree. Even after hundreds of rewatches I still have no idea what he said.

As we reached the tail end of the night the bigger awards started to be handed out.  Lupita Nyong’o beat Jennifer Lawrence for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her incredible debut performance in 12 Years a Slave; she also gave a truly inspiring speech to boot. Cate Blanchett was a lock for ‘Best Actress’ for her leading role in Blue Jasmine. After winning so many technical awards ‘Best Director’ was only going to one man – Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity. Matthew McConaughey had been the favourite for ‘Best Actor’ all awards season, and despite pleading from the internet for Leonardo DiCaprio to finally get his Oscar this wasn’t his year. McConaughey took the award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club and gave a rather strange acceptance speech.

The ultimate winner of the night was 12 Years a Slave taking home ‘Best Picture’ and a place in the history books. There had been some rumblings that Gravity could pull off a major upset based on how it was sweeping the board early on but the favourite won it and the night was topped off but a sincere speech from British director Steven McQueen. Overall it was a solid but unremarkable Oscar evening, for a year that had so many quality films it was a shame that the outcome was so predictable.

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