By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Oscar Night has with it the trimmings of acting prestige when its Hollywood royalty steps out onto the red carpet in anticipation of the best worn dress and the highly coveted award for best (and worst) fashion; the news of who’s on whose arm, be it mother, sister, father, brother, wife, or “modelesque,” rental girlfriend ; what the host will do and what the show will actually look like; and last, but not least, who will take home the golden statue.
The Oscars have so erupted that ordinary folk, as in “non-Hollywood” types, have gone so far as to throw their own Oscar Parties, which include formal gowns, high stilettos, glittery jewellery, pretty appetizers, and flutes of champagne—and perhaps some betting odds.
But, the odds were certainly in the Oscars’ favour last night, what with the explosion of social media and its opportunity for viewers to share their thoughts and pictures through a connecting and universal hashtag: #Oscars.
Thankfully, it was Ellen DeGeneres who hosted the show, her likeability proven to be well-earned with her perfect comedic balance between making fun of the stars without actually hurting their feelings (well, except maybe for Liza Minnelli) and comedic timing—which must run according to plan since the accrual of wayward speeches tend to always take the show beyond its airing time slot—and the viewers’ patience.
With quips to Los Angeles’ need for prayer because of rain (while the rest of North America seems to be onslaught with snow squalls and frigid temperatures) to a referral to Jennifer Lawrence’s safety since her “fall” to the Oscar podium last year was not able to protect her from another tumble on the red carpet this year, to chiding with Jonah Hill about “seeing something [she] hasn’t seen in a long time,” Ellen DeGeneres made it clear, she is truly the host to beat.
Highlights of the show included an affectionate jab at Jared Leto for being the “prettiest” person on the red carpet, an indirect reference to his complex, transgender role as Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club, for which he later won the well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
And yes, Pharrell Williams wore what has now become his trademark, the Vivienne Westwood Mountain Hat, dancing to his perky song for the movie, Despicable Me 2, Happy. And happy we were, as viewers who got a chance to see a few of Hollywood’s elite do a little jig of their own at the coercion of Pharrell during his performance.
Lupita Nyong’o stood up from her seat, a wonderfully bright, blue twirl, as cute as the headband she wore as her key accessory. Amy Adams showcased her sexy moves with a two-second dance tease. And even the epitome of Oscar-nominated talent such as Meryl Streep strutted her stuff when faced with Pharrell Williams and his Happy song.
The audience was key to the night’s success. Ellen DeGeneres was so interactive with them that she was often pictured right there behind, in front, or in the seats themselves. And kudos to Ellen for being down-to-earth enough to suggest she order pizza for a few of those willing to eat during the show, the first ever order-in experience at the prestigious gala.
Perhaps some were uncomfortably surprised at the offer of pizza, but for those who were probably honest with their own hunger, they were also brave enough to pick a few slices to munch on in public. I mean, c’mon, pizza is good, but it’s messy.
I especially loved to see Brad Pitt take the initiative in passing around paper plates to his peers who opted for the pizza menu. Good for him! He’s humble enough and down-to-earth enough to not only be practical, but thoughtful, and generous of himself, too, which only make viewers like myself love him even more. Mr. Pitt, you are as kind as you are talented and good-looking. You see? There is more than just a “pretty face,” when it comes to Angelina Jolie’s beau.
Too bad for Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed over a slice of veggies. Perhaps it was bad karma? Because Oscar passed over him, too, when it came to awarding the Best Actor in a Leading Role category. While I believe Leonardo DiCaprio has been robbed of Oscars before, perhaps it’s in his best interest to take a slice of pizza from Ellen DeGeneres when offered one. Better luck next time, Leo! (I loved him in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, by the way.)
While the In Memoriam segment honoured those who were actively part of the Hollywood community and have recently passed away, it was especially sad and nostalgic to see such recognizable and influential faces on the screen such as:
- Karen Black
- Jim Kelly, Enter the Dragon
- Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin
- Paul Walker, The Fast and Furious series
- Elmore Leonard, Writer
- Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia
- Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter series
- Roger Ebert,Critic
- Shirley Temple Black
- Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Aside from Bette Midler’s low-key performance of Wind Beneath My Wings, it was a pleasant surprise to not see Pink fly from the ceiling, but belch out a beautiful and strong rendition of Over the Rainbow in honour of The Wizard of Oz. And I absolutely loved her red, ruby, glittering dress in connection to Dorothy’s famous ruby slippers.
Even U2’s performance of Ordinary Love in honour of Nelson Mandela crooned itself in genuine honesty with no more than Bono and his long time band, free of a lot of bravado and lights.
Karen O also crooned out an extremely understated rendition of The Moon Song on behalf of the movie, Her. Her red dress was glorious in front of a large full moon as her raspy voice filled the theatre.
But, to the context of the Oscars, the awards were sent out steadily throughout the night without much controversy like the Jacqueline Bissett incident during the Golden Globes.
And while Gravity won a total of seven Oscars for the night including: Best Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron), the movie itself did not have enough pull to snag the big prize: Best Picture.
And though Dallas Buyers Club won one other Oscar prize for Achievement in Makeup & Styling, it was highly regarded for its actors with the win of Jared Leto for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Their physical transformations were prize-worthy enough since they both had to lose between 30 to 40 pounds each to transform themselves into Rayon and Ron Woodruff, consecutively, for the film.
But, the absolute joy and excitement of the night was Lupita Nyong’o’s win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the film, 12 Years a Slave, when caught in her jubilant surprise, her infectious smile told the world that, yes, as humble as she is a newcomer to the screen and to the Oscars, she had indeed arrived. Not only was her baby blue chiffon dress and white headband a hit on the red carpet, she thoroughly impressed me with how articulate and genuine she was in her acceptance speech:
Yes! 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.
Chiwetel, thank you for your fearlessness and how deeply you went into telling Solomon’s story. Michael Fassbender, thank you so much. You were my rock. Alfre and Sarah, it was a thrill to work with you. Joe Walker, the invisible performer in the editing room, thank you. Sean Bobbitt, Kalaadevi, Adruitha, Patty Norris, thank you, thank you, thank you, I could not be here without your work.
I want to thank my family for your training and the Yale School of Drama as well for your training. My friends, the Wilsons, this one’s for you. My brother, Junior, sitting by my side. Thank you so much. You are my best friend. And Ben, my other best friend, my chosen family.
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.
But, she wasn’t the only successful woman of tinsel town that night. I was overjoyed in hearing the news of Cate Blanchett’s win of Best Actress in a Leading Role for her central role in Blue Jasmine. The sample clip that was provided during the Oscars before the announcement was made, was compelling enough to showcase Blanchett’s ability, complexity, and depth to perform. She is obviously a gifted actress. Of course, I am also wonderfully biased since I think she was absolutely robbed of this title win for her nomination in the movie, Elizabeth, in which she portrayed the Queen of England—one of my all-time favourite films.
If Cate Blanchett was not named Best Actress in a Leading Role this year, the close second would have had to gone to the living legend, Meryl Streep with her 18th Oscar nomination and her audacious portrayal of Violet Weston in Osage County.
Though Her did not see the limelight at the Oscars this year, the film did snag a well-deserved prize for Original Screenplay by Spike Jonze.
And of course, the biggest win of the night, the last, but not least category of the evening, was the announcement of the Best Picture of the Year. And as predicted, while it didn’t total a high number of wins in other categories, Lupita Nyong’o shined her light in its corner for her win as Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and its win for Best Adapted Screenplay. Not bad for a book adapted into film! Not bad for a true story.
While I didn’t dress up to the nines for the evening (I conveniently stayed in my pj’s and fuzzy, leopard slippers), nor did I drink champagne from any fancy flutes, I was mesmerized and glued to the television like most viewers—awestruck by the shining lights of Hollywood’s elite acting community.
To the Oscar winners, I send my warmest congratulations. And to those who Oscar shunned this year—remember—the show must go on.
What was your favourite moment of the 86th Oscars?
Were any of your winning predictions true?
Which Oscar winners did you disagree with?
Whose acceptance speech did you enjoy the most?