The 86th Oscars recap through tweets …

Welcome to the 86th Annual Academy Awards everyone! If you didn’t watch the festivities that occurred Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre you are probably a lot better off than most of us because it was a very lackluster affair. We all hoped Ellen DeGeneres would bring a fun, smart, witty return to her success with the 79th installment, but the reality ended up being one of the most dull and safe presentations in quite some time. I guess it wasn’t all bad, though, considering the Academy actually got most of the awards correct for once. So kudos to them for that.

I’ve done something a little different this year by adding some of the funny tweets I saw and shared while watching the ceremony because it makes more sense to highlight those out there who are actually funny. So, apologies to all I’ve quoted, but Twitter is a public forum and honestly one of the few things that make the Oscars entertaining every year. That and the yearly Buffalo Spree prediction sessions with Christopher Schobert and William Altreuter of which I was eight for eight this year. Yes, I’m bragging about something that’s not only meaningless, but also only being read by me.


I really was psyched about this year’s show. I enjoyed the promo commercial set to Fitz and the Tantrums; I remember enjoying her last stint hosting in a fuzzy, I don’t recall anything I hated kind of way; and it’s Ellen. She’s funny.

But instead of laugh-out-loud we got her saying Liza Minnelli looked like a man in drag, pretending June Squibb was too old to hear her, and taking a mean-spirited jab at the celebrities being angry about so much rain as though she was oblivious to how much of a miracle that precipitation was for the region. Add a stale joke about everyone in the Academy being racists if 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win and you get a paint-by-numbers monologue anyone could have delivered with the same level of failure.

That said, however, I did like her comments about Matthew McConaughey being “dirty pretty” as compared to Jared Leto. It was the type of good-natured ribbing I expected, but its appearances were few and far between. Most of the time it was gags like the one about Jennifer Lawrence always falling down—cute because she had tripped again getting out of her car on the red carpet, but unfunny because Ellen dragged it out for so long. I felt really bad for Nicholas Hoult pretending he was just some guy she brought to sit next to her silently rather than star of Warm Bodies and Jack the Giant Slayer.

Let’s just say that when Leto finally received his obligatory Oscar for Best Supporting Actor I was so happy because it meant the jokes would stop for at least a little while. It’s pretty bad when you actually start hoping a Billy Crystal montage would come and shake things up a bit, but that’s where my head was at until Jared’s eloquent acceptance speech began the trend of actors getting as much time as they wanted to talk while all crew winners were interrupted by music after a minute.

So here we are a half hour into the show and all that’s been given is one award. One. Award. Didn’t they used to worry about the show going so long that they had to remove Best Song performances to appease the network? Guess we live in a new bizarro world where people on the East coast have to suck it up and stay awake until midnight if they want to see who wins the big prize.

What filled the space, you ask? A “hero” themed montage about animation introduced by human cartoon Jim Carrey. He was awkward in his joke about never being nominated for a statue but somewhat entertaining doing a Bruce Dern impression—both of which had nothing to do with animation and probably were ad-libs because he had a camera in front of him.

That was followed by the return of Pharrell‘s fifty gallon hat as he performed “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 while trying to get Christian Bale to dance with him. Well, not really. He just happened to walk by an unimpressed Bale and Lawrence on his way to get Lupita Nyong’o and Amy Adams to get up and gyrate. Meryl Streep stayed seated but gave us a boob shake nonetheless.

More awards! So they didn’t completely lose focus of the show’s goal. Winning for Best Costume Design is The Great Gatsby‘s Catherine Martin in a much-deserved victory. I’m still not sure what was going on with her apologizing for taking out a piece of paper when she never actually looked at it, but whatever. Shorter acceptance speeches mean shorter program, so I was all for it when she left the microphone after thanking three people and her “Golden Girls”.

Next came Best Make-up and Hair and no, Jackass Presents: Bad Grampa did not take home gold. The winner was Dallas Buyers Club‘s Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews in a bit of a surprise considering its more natural aesthetic in comparison to Johnny Knoxville and The Lone Ranger. I guess that just goes to show you how effective they were at realism.

The show did give us one time-crunch method by this point with its grouping the Best Picture nomination montages into triplets. It’s a relevant decision to make due to having nine choices rather than ten and really does help speed things along by having only three presenters rather than nine. And there is always some thin connective tissue to BS in order to make the grouping work, so I was all for it.

This part of the show got a bit mean on Twitter and I’ll admit to joining in the fun at famous people’s expense. Channing Tatum was super nervous being on that stage in front of his peers and rushed through his monotone speech as though someone would shoot him if he didn’t finish on time. Dude, you only had to look down at bud Jonah Hill‘s goofy smile to calm down. Be cool, man. Be cool.

But that was nothing compared to Kim Novak. Whoa. Matthew McConaughey is a saint for dealing with that situation with grace and patience because she was completely zoned out/in awe/high/losing oxygen because her face was too taut or something equally unfortunate. Thankfully they carried the good news of an upset over Disney in Best Animated Short because it jokes were too much to stop reading. Many congrats Mr. Hublot (my personal favorite of the bunch).

The Mouse House did unsurprisingly take home Best Animated Feature for Frozen, though. I’m not too upset there because it was a highlight inside this very mediocre year for the medium. I haven’t seen The Wind Rises yet, but figure my vote would have gone its way.

Another hero montage equals another complete waste of time. If you aren’t going to dress the stage with fun motifs to fit your “theme”, why have a theme at all? This show could have ended on time if the producers didn’t pretend a couple montages and a musical number constituted tribute let alone any kind of tribute we wanted. Lazy is the only word I can think to conjure as a reason.

Back to the awards: Best Visual Effects goes to the only film it ever could have. If any category was more automatic than Leto’s it was Gravity‘s Timothy Weber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, and Nail Corbould winning for effects. The film was groundbreaking and its look and manufactured verisimilitude were why. The only surprise was that presenter Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn’t have a camera filming the audience and the experience for “HitRECord on TV“. A missed opportunity for sure (unless his logo button had one hidden inside it).

The Karen O / Ezra Koenig acoustic combo in spotlit darkness was a nice change of pace to Pharrell’s raucous affair earlier and I really do like the song. Ellen coming back onstage afterwards with a guitar in hand as some sort of nod to it was completely random, though. At least strum a couple chords or make a joke or something—as it was it simply fell flat if at all.

Most people quickly forgot about it considering Kate Hudson‘s plunging neckline/bare chested dress straight out of Adams’ American Hustle wardrobe coming into focus. I’ve never been a fan of her acting or her looks, but she definitely turned my head this night. And no one remembered Jason Sudeikis was even on stage …

The duo presented the last of the short subject categories with Best Live Action Short (Helium) and Best Documentary Short (The Lady in Number 6). Both to me were cop-out votes going for sentimentality over impact. Helium was cute, but also cliched and Lady contained a weirdly presented message of a Holocaust survivor grateful for her concentration camp experience—a somewhat slap-in-the-face to all those who died that weren’t lucky enough to have had a talent allowing their captivity to be at the one prison Hitler used to pretend he wasn’t killing anyone. She did sadly pass away last week, though, so I can’t be too mean about it. But Facing Fear and Karama Has No Walls were much more deserving.

I never thought she’d drag this pizza thing out as far as she did. It was humorous when she made the joke and celebs raised their hands that they wanted some, but she actually gets her fave pizza haunt to deliver? Are the gimmicks not exuding a “you’re trying too hard” mentality? I’d have been onboard if Oprah Winfrey was nominated for The Butler and Ellen had everyone reach under their seats for a Snickers bar or something, but not this filler of a running joke.

It didn’t help my mood that it was followed by a huge surprise in my eyes with 20 Feet From Stardom beating both The Act of Killing and The Square for Best Documentary. I get that Academy members probably don’t want to choose politically when they go out of their ways to make their lives political, but why pick the “happiest” entry? Give it to Cutie and the Boxer at least if you’re moving away from dark tragedy. (Not that I can say anything since 20 Feet was the one nominee I didn’t see in the category).

And then the Honorary Oscars came. So they still aren’t important enough to handout live, but we’ll devote time to talking about it? At least when James Earl Jones won he was in the audience with his fellow off-camera winners. The best we got this year was Steve Martin tweeting a photo of his on a book shelf while he watched from home.

There was no surprise in The Great Beauty winning Italy an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. I like the choice because the film is not a straight linear saga with purpose. It meanders, gets philosophically abstract, and could easily turn people off. But who thought it would lose? Everyone knew as soon as Blue is the Warmest Color and The Past didn’t get nominated.

Another Ellen mic glitch coming out from backstage later (Were these intentional because we actually hear part of her convo with the pizza dude later on?) and we’ve hit the 10:00pm halftime (which proves inaccurate once the show goes beyond its 11:30pm end time as usual).

I liked the selfie. It was probably the most fun moment of the whole night with all these celebs breaking free of their professional/black-tie personas to don a smile and mug for the world. Jared Leto ran down from the opposite aisle, Lupita’s brother was excited enough to block out Angelina Jolie despite his sis being relegated to the background, and an aerial view photo going around the day after shows how Liza desperately tried to get in to no avail.

But the real intriguing aspect to come out of the pic was poor Nicholas Hoult sitting silently in his seat. Ellen called a bunch of people out by name to get in the shot, yelling at J-Law while also ignoring her date in the process. I like that Hoult is shy enough to not want to ruin this “thing” he wasn’t expressly invited to partake in. Or maybe he simply wants nothing to do with any of these crazies. I might like him even more for that one.

Welcome to the aftermath of the tweet that broke Twitter. I thought my iPhone app was having trouble, than maybe it was Time Warner. By the time I turned off wifi and stuck to Verizon LTE all the hiccups were done. Before that, though, I worried I hit the daily quota of tweets in a certain period of hours like last year because nothing I posted would publish. Then it kept telling me I already said it even though I didn’t—chaos.

There wasn’t much to snark about anyway, so whatever. Gravity won a couple more technical awards (Best Sound Mixing to Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro and Best Sound Editing to Glenn Freemantle) and Lupita Nyong’o won her much deserved Best Supporting Actress. I really dreaded that Lawrence would scoop it up from under her due to sheer star power wattage, but the headband-wearing beauty would not be denied. And was it just me or did she talk even longer than Leto without anyone prompting her to speed it up?

The pizza is back. Leonardo DiCaprio wants nothing to do with it as he politely smiles until Ellen moves on to Harrison Ford, a guy who truly couldn’t give a crap. Martin Scorsese almost accidentally yanks a second piece onto his lap and the query is posed out loud about whether Harvey Weinstein can tip the delivery man.

Talk about derailing any sense of order with a parlor trick maybe half in attendance were willing to tolerate. It’s one thing to see famous people squirm as Ricky Gervais lambasts them with the scathing truth. It’s something completely different when they simply look puzzled because they aren’t sure if they’re being mocked or getting roped into some random act of humor with no meaning other than passing the time.

It takes Bill Murray (I thought he hated coming to these things as a nominee let alone a presenter) to finally inject a little life into the show by upstaging the five nominees for Best Cinematography with the improvised addition of the late Harold Ramis as a sixth selection (and no, he did not lens those films).

He politely apologizes to the prospective winners before helping to announce Emmanuel Lubezki‘s name for shooting Gravity. It’s yet another victory for the increasing digital landscape of Hollywood and does beg the question whether it’s worth the categories into two mediums. But don’t you think it would be harder to shoot a scene without everything present? I don’t think anything these guys are doing should get belittled as post-production opportunists by any means.

Gravity isn’t finished by a long shot either as it soon takes Best Editing. Mark Sanger heads to the microphone to give his thanks before partner Alfonso Cuarón attempts to add his own as the music begins to play. Only able to utter a “Bye!”, we all know there’s a 99% chance he’ll be coming back onstage shortly.

More Ellen tedium ensues, an unnecessarily long tribute to Judy Garland by Pink is had (Was that part of the hero theme too?), and The Great Gatsby gets its second win of the night for Best Production Design. If Martin winning Best Costume Design was a bit of a surprise, there was no question she and Beverley Dunn would take home Production. It’s absolutely impeccable—the one aspect even haters of the film have to agree was awe-inspiring. And kudos to Mrs. Baz Luhrmann for bringing her Oscar total to four all-time.

Now things are just getting lazy. More heroes stuff a la action hero guy’s guys. Sure Katniss Everdeen and Ripley get some face time, but that’s about it on the gender equality front.

Why not invite a bunch of these actors to reprise their roles together in some elaborate, comic bit? Why not have some fun rather than pressing play in order to see clips we can watch on infinite YouTube loops? Arghhhh!!!!

The only montage of archival footage any Oscars presentation should possess is the In Memoriam piece. This years was very nice and delicately somber with way too many recognizable names and faces put onscreen. Bookended by James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman as you’d expect, it’s a shame Dennis Farina and last minute addition Alain Resnais couldn’t squeeze in. Honestly, though, what could you have cut to find the time?

A bone is thrown Sarah Jones‘ way by means of a digital banner that flashed in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion, so I guess all the absences exist somewhere in the annals of oscar.go.com.

It’s now 11:00pm. A half hour left in its scheduled runtime and we haven’t even received the video clips for the final trio of Best Picture noms. There’s still another Best Song performance, at least eight more awards, and God knows what else.

Enter John Travolta to give us the best fodder for ridicule of the night as he introduces Adele Dazim to sing her song “Let It Go” from Frozen. Wait. What? Why wouldn’t they have Idina Menzel sing it since she sings it in the movie? I thought I saw her on the red carpet. That looks like her on stage. What’s happening?

Leave it to Ellen and this night of “safe” to clap Menzel off the stage by knowingly saying her name twice. How amazing would Gervais have been letting Travolta have it? Not even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could ignore the rolodex of barbs flashing through their minds after something like that. The Golden Globes definitely have something unique with their alcohol infused awards show and the Academy needs to loosen up and follow suit one of these days.

Actually, no they don’t. It’s the Oscars: the default prestigious affair of the cinema year regardless. And that’s its biggest problem.

On to the two music categories for two non-surprises. Picking Steven Price for Best Score with Gravity was an easy guess because the music is so glaringly overpowering and manipulative throughout. Sometimes bad equals good because people remember it.

Which score was your favorite John and Jane Doe? “Did those other ones have music? I know Gravity did because it made me feel so much. That must mean it was the best.”

Best Song might have been a little trickier to select with the inclusion of U2 to the mix, but you heard Menzel belt Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez‘s lyrics. How do you not vote for that voice alone? And let’s not forget the fact that a win would make Robert the youngest EGOTer in history. (Thank you “30 Rock“.)

Wait a second. Did the pizza gag just make me laugh. Yep. Yep it did.

I was in the middle of rolling my eyes when it happened as Ellen casually passed around Pharrell’s hat to collect pizza money despite time winding down and so much left to do. Weinstein and more dropped in cash (Lupita added her lip gloss) with Kevin Spacey doing something the rest didn’t. He told Ellen the 40 bucks he threw in was hers. That twist wasn’t what earned the laugh, though. No, it was her deadpan “thank you” as she reached in the hat, took out the pair of twenties, and shoved them in her pocket. That was the Ellen I hoped would have been on fire all night.

From there came Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave) and Best Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze for Her), two categories I guessed correctly even though I am the worst judge of a good script. I couldn’t read a script with any sort of inflection or life if I had a gun to my head. I can’t even read Shakespeare without someone there to tell me how those archaic words should be spoken. But I knew 12 Years had to get a Big 4 Crew statuette and Her was too uniquely wonderful to go home empty-handed.

I don’t think anyone expected the frostiness between Ridley and Steve McQueen, though. The controversy of the night was eventually revealed to have been months in the making and an unfortunate blight on an otherwise pristine film. (Read about it here.)

Poor Sidney Poitier. The guy just turned 87 last month and they have him coming out with Jolie to present Best Director. He struggled so hard to get his words out that it reminded me of Dick Clark‘s time-delayed countdown the last couple years he remained on TV for New Year’s.

Amidst the standing ovation given while he fought with his words, however, the much-deserved announcement of Alfonso Cuarón’s name was made. The best part of 2013’s most daringly entertaining work, he won his second of the night with the potential for one more. Best Director has a long legacy of predicting what film takes home Best Picture honors and his victory—albeit favored—had to make you wonder whether Gravity would sneak in at the end after all.

And that leaves three more awards. Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture.

As Daniel Day-Lewis came onstage you had to believe Cate Blanchett would be the name called whether everyone on Earth hates Woody Allen or not. Her performance in Blue Jasmine was an eye-opening treat of psychological unrest both comedically and dramatically—memorable enough to finally give her that elusive Lead distinction after two Elizabeth films could not.

I was glad to read A.O. Scott‘s tweet above because I wasn’t quite sure if her use of “exacerbate” was correct, but I had to believe it wasn’t. Four minutes and change after her name was announced she finally stopped talking so we could move on.

It was Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey’s turn to take the stage and accept a well-deserved win for his rebirth as an actor of note culminating with the emaciated visage we saw in Dallas Buyers Club. His trademarked “Alright, alright, alright” was uttered, his Southern flavor came out when he became the only person of the night to thank God, and he admitted his drive to succeed came from the fact that he always has a future self to live up to and make proud.

His was one more actor speech to complete the quartet of memorable eloquence that touched upon a single mother, a hard-working if not unlikely path from a Kenya-raised childhood, how women-led films should not be considered niche, and the importance of family. All four definitely got it right.

I still kind of wish DiCaprio got the statue, though.

The moment of truth.

Would it be Gravity en route to eight Oscars? American Hustle which had thus far been shut-out? Or the critical darling and Oscar favorite 12 Years a Slave with two already under its belt?

Will Smith—or Lu as he’s known now to the handful of people who saw Winter’s Tale—tore open the envelope and said: 12 Years a Slave.

It survived a rocky up and down roller coaster since TIFF to remain at the top like it had all through awards season despite losing in almost every other category. A powerful, emotive, harrowing film where even the smallest part was played by a recognizable face (and often past Oscar nominee) to portray one of America’s most despicable horrors in all its uncensored infamy.

Brad Pitt spoke first as more of an introduction to his director McQueen than over-arching “thank you”, letting Steve’s rapidly blinking eyes and fumbling words spew forth in all his awkward, genius glory.

Dare I say the Academy finally got one close to perfect? It’s just a shame the show itself couldn’t have succeeded in tandem with the impeccable voting results.

Yes, these three now have Oscars.

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