Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars 2014 Recap: I Know My First Name's Idina...

Classy People. Classy Show. 

So Guys. The Oscars Happened. Oh, did they ever happen!

In a show that ran long and had virtually no upset wins ("Get a Horse" lost animated short, and... that was it.) the show still managed to spin out a little wild and be entertaining as some late evening craziness kept the internets ablaze with comments. Here are some highlights from the night.

1. Lupita WINS! Bobby EGOT'S! Cuaron makes history AND wins twice!

It was a night of eloquent speeches and lots of fun first time winners. Maybe it was a result of housing the orchestra in some building down the street again, but I don't remember anyone getting plaid off despite several people going on for a bit. Even when a team won, and one person was the main speaker, the second person was always given a few seconds to quickly shot hello to his or her mom or kids. Bobby Lopez completed his career EGOT, winning for "Let It Go" (over 2.5 hours into the ceremony - JESUS.), Cuaron won for editing and also became the first Latino winner for Best Directing. But in my opinion, the most lovely win went to Lupita Nyong'o. Here's her beautiful speech in total:

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, it’s been the joy of my life. [Tears, applause.] 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 Solomon, 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 [laughs] 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’re my best friend and then 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. Thank you.

Thank YOU, Lupita!

2. Twitter breaks.

Ellen broke the internet with this improved A-List selfie. She told everyone to retweet it, and retweet it they did until twitter could retweet no moew! You know, despite everyone's nerves about the night, the big nominees were all very game to play with Ellen whenever she called on them in the audience. You could tell they have a lot of trust with her to have a good time and enjoy making moments.

3. American Gets Hustled!

Bored Now. Poor American Hustle! It was probably my favorite movie this year, it had 10 nominations tonight and went home with zero wins. You will have your time, Amy Adams! You will! I swear it!

4. Jennifer Lawrence Falls Down Again!

Jennifer looked amazing and got the falling out of the way on the red carpet instead of during the actual ceremony. Unfortunately, it was still under the watchful eye of Ellen who called her out about it in the opening monologue. She'd have gotten extra points had she succeeded in taking down the young lady in front of her as well.

5. Introducing Adela Dazeem

Having already broken twitter once last night, John Travolta tried to make it happen for the Oscars a second time when he bizarrely introduced Idina Menzel as something close to Adela Dazeem. It was one if those truly special WTF moments. Many Frozen and Broadway fans had been anxiously awaiting Idina's live performance for weeks now. We had to wait until after 11pm for the show to finally give us what we wanted. And then John Travolta takes the stage. Upon initial viewing, I did not hear his flub because we were not interested in Travolta and were urging him to hurry up out of there. But then as the performance started things got weird on stage and online. The song felt rushed. Idina seemed nervous or flustered. They cut out the middle verse where the song builds vocally. The ear piece was malfunctioning. The band wasn't even in the same building! Through all this the presentation was still lovely. She cracked a bit on the top note, but girl was singing live and that note's in the stratosphere. It happens. She gave it her all. Did the whole performance fall short of our extremely high expectations? Yeah, a bit. We would've wanted it to go perfectly for Idina, because she deserves a perfect moment! The missed high note doesn't bother me. It was more that I thought Idina looked pressured throughout a song that's about release. I felt like the production never let her relax.

But even before the song ended, twitter and FB started ripping into Travolta. What name did he call her? Certainly not Idina. People couldn't figure it out. Eventually, we settled on either Adele or Adela Dazeem. Either way, it was so preposterous! Quite ironically, social media was NOT gonna let it go at all. As of this posting, @AdelaDazeem has over 14,000 twitter followers off of just four tweets.

Okay, obviously he had some kind of brain fart reading the prompter. But he doesn't know who Idina is? She starred in Rent. She starred in Wicked. They didn't meet backstage moments before he did the intro? It just seems insane. But it certainly woke everyone up as the show headed towards midnight. I laughed til I cried reading people's scathing comments. I missed two awards while trying to compose myself. Thanks for all the laughs at your expense, Jorn Tromolto.

6. Encyclopedia Ellen and The Mystery of The Red Rose Curtain

The sets on stage last night were certainly... interesting. There was the army of gummi bear Oscar statues. The array of blinding spotlights. The giant scrim that showed projections of the Wizard of Oz in front of P!nk while she sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. But the strangest one for me was this huge curtain of giant red roses. It was enormous! And I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "Why is that thing there??" Nobody acknowledged it, despite it taking up the whole stage. Was is hiding some big set piece or star entrance? Was there going to be a big reveal? No, it just hung there. Did it symbolize the red carpet? Was it an ode to the poppy fields of the Wizard of Oz? The world may never know...

7. Ellen was Mean. Liza was Displeased.

She's not quite as Super Nice as Jimmy Fallon, but Ellen is not known for throwing sharp jabs either. Still, there were some delightfully prickly moments in the opening monologue I appreciated. Liza Minelli might have felt differently at the time. Ellen shouted out the real life Captain Phillips and Philomena who were in the audience that night and then mentioned the real Liza as “One of the best Liza Minnelli impersonators that I have seen in my entire life… Good job, sir!” Liza was like "Did she call me a MAN??" The audience wasn't totally with her (Liza was there to celebrate mom Judy Garland and the 75th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz.) Not ready to make nice just yet, Ellen closed out the monologue by offering up two possibilities, “Possibility number one: Twelve Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists. And now welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway!”

If that drag queen read wasn't enough, she got shut out of Ellen's Group Selfie for being too short! Look at her stretching! Won't someone notice poor Liza??!

8. The Happy Shimmy

Thank you, Pharrel for giving the world the Happy Shimmy. Streep came ready to play last night, folks.

9. The World is Round, People!

Jared Leto gave a nice long speech with shout outs to his Mom, Ukraine, Venezuela, AIDS victims and 30 Seconds to Mars. Matthew McConaughey thanked the Holy Trinity of Me Myself and I. But my favorite of the actors' acceptance speeches outside of Lupita was the lovely Cate Blanchett who said. "To those of us in the industry who are perhaps foolishly clinging to the idea that female films -- with women at the center -- are niche experiences, they are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money!" Thunderous appplause and then, "The world is round, people!" She is divine. And the first Australian ever to win multiple Oscars!

10. Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Ellen made a joke about ordering the starving nominees pizzas. And then later the pizzas arrived. And then Ellen handed out the pizzas. And then the nominees actually ate the pizzas while sitting in the their seats in the theater. And then Ellen went around with Pharrell's hat collecting money for the pizza. It sounds simple.But it was a fun way of engaging with the audience and keeping them involved as more and more of their categories were settled. Again, it speaks well of Ellen that so many people continued to play along with whatever she asked them to do. It turns out they did not map out these interactions in rehearsal. Ellen just let them know she'd be doing something and they waited to see what it was. I thought these bits worked really well. And made me hungry for pizza!

So overall, it was a nice night with some lovely wins, funny jokes and head and baffling errors. I guessed 20 of the 24 winners which I score as "not too shabby." 12 Years a Slave is a worthy best picture win. Hopefully next year Amy Adams takes hope the gold trophy and John Travolta will be on hand to call her Armani Slumndal.  That'd be a win for everybody. Our dreams are valid.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Oscar Predictions: Academy Hustle

(Let's all head straight to the after-party, since we're not likely to win anyway.)

The 2014 Oscars are upon us! Before I live tweet this bitch later tonight, I figured I'd break my long blogging hiatus (all my writing time this year has gone to playwriting and FB statuses! Sorry, blog!) by going on record about my pics to win this year. All the early results from this awards season indicate it will be a "spread the wealth" sort of year with no one movie sweeping all the technical or the performance categories. Conventional wisdom would also indicate that 12 Years A Slave will win Best Picture, but it's not a total lock. It's a very powerful film and expertly made, but I found it so painful to watch. It's not a movie that if I would just sit down and watch flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon while folding my laundry. Same thing could be said for Schindler's List, though. Shakespeare in Love, however...

I DO like to be entertained by films, so in that sense if I was voting this year, I would pick American Hustle or Gravity as my top choice. But I certainly wouldn't begrudge 12 Years a well deserved win. We'll see what happens. What we'll all remember about this anyway is After Earth's Best Picture snub. It is unconscionable.

All the categories have their front runners, but Academy Voters don't always stick to the Awards Season script. There could be some delicious upsets. As long as "Let It Go" wins Best Song whatever else happens is fine with me. Should it somehow lose... just wait for my tweets.

Here's hoping Ellen brings back the Swan Dress!! And without further ado... my predictions (in BOLD)!

Best Picture:

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Best Animated Feature:

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

Best Cinematography:

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

Best Costume Design:

American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)
The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)
The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
The Invisible Woman (Michael O'Connor)
12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)

Best Directing:

American Hustle (David O. Russell)
Gravity (Alfonso CuarĂ³n)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Best Documentary Feature:

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Best Documentary Short:

Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal

Best Film Editing:

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

Best Foreign Language Film:

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Best Original Score:

The Book Thief (John Williams)
Gravity (Steven Price)
Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)
Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

Best Original Song:

Happy (Despicable Me 2)
Let It Go (Frozen)
The Moon Song (Her)
Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Production Design:

American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave

Best Animated Short Film:

Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom

Best Live Action Short Film:

That Wasn't Me
Just Before Losing Everything
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
The Voorman Problem

Best Sound Editing:

All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing:

Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Best Visual Effects:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Original Screenplay:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club