For the first time in quite a while I stayed up late in to the night (well early morning really) in the UK on Sunday and watched the Oscars. Arguably the biggest night in the film calendar, it’s always fun to see who looks great, who doesn’t, who gives a great speech (or not) and what the presenter has in store. At times the actual awards almost seem to be a secondary aspect of proceedings!
All in all we had a great night. Yes the ceremony was tamer than previous years but for me that was no bad thing. I tend to find Ellen DeGeneres quite funny and she didn’t fail to entertain us this year, bringing fun and humour to the show without too much uncomfortable digging at those present. As the night went on I loved the silly touches – the selfie was fun to watch unfold, especially seeing Peter Nyong’o take centre stage (getting a better position then even his sister)! I thought the pizza delivery was a great touch too, especially when you realised the delivery guy had no idea he was about to face a room of celebrities. Seeing Harrison Ford grab napkins from Ellen and Brad and Angelina tucking in to a quick snack was good fun and helped show that Hollywood shouldn’t take itself too seriously.
Photo by: Robert Gauthier
As for the speeches, they weren’t too bad. I did cringe slightly at the impromptu singing from the documentary film winner (which was the one result my friend was most annoyed at, after having recently attended a screening and Q&A for The Act of Killing) and I found Matthew McConaughey’s speech rather irritating (although I fully admit that the fact that I have never been a fan of his and was hoping Chiwetel Ejiofor would win may be factors working against him!). Lupita Nyong’o’s speech was rather lovely and spoken with such grace and pose, clearly making many members of the audience tear up. Then there was the horribly embarrassing farce that was John Travolta’s attempt to introduce Indina Menzel. At least she can be proud of her performance! Finally top marks to Kevin Spacey arriving on stage as his darker side – Frank Underwood from House of Cards! I did think the Heroes theme was rather unnecessary – the Oscars is about celebrating film and therefore I really don’t think it needs an added theme at all.
As for the winners there really weren’t any surprises this year and it was satisfying to look back on a year that saw some fantastic films released and acknowledged. As my review from October last year after I attended the London Film Festival screening made clear, I thought 12 Years A Slave was a truly superb film, with some of the finest performances I’ve ever seen on film and it was certainly my best picture. Therefore I was thrilled that John Ridley’s script and Lupita’s performance were recognised and that the film deservedly took the Best Picture award and seeing Steve McQueen leap for joy was lovely. I hope this encourages anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to go to their nearest cinema. Due to its rather late UK release I still need to see The Dallas Buyer’s Club, so at this point I remain disappointed that Chiwetel missed out on Best Actor (and feel slightly sorry for poor Leo) and I would still have awarded Steve McQueen with the director gong. I’m also in the minority (I think) of people who weren’t hugely fussed about Blue Jasmine and was far more impressed by Meryl Streep’s multi-layered performance in August: Osage County than Cate Blanchett.
It’s almost more interesting to look at those not nominated. I remain surprised that Tom Hanks wasn’t nominated for the wonderful Captain Phillips, which I thought showcased his brilliance as an actor and I remain incredibly surprised that the cinematography category left out both this film and 12 Years A Slave, not to mention Emma Thompson for Saving Mr Banks.
Photo by: Hubert Boesl
The red carpet also saw some other bizarre moments, including Julia Roberts being offered a glass of wine, only for it to be a full bottle in one glass with a straw and Pharrell Williams in his ridiculous shorts (no no no!). For me though, there was someone else who stood out – as a longstanding fan of Benedict Cumberbatch it was lovely to see him at his first Oscars a little in awe of the occasion whilst still showing his fun side, leaping up behind U2 during photo (which it has emerged may have been done to fulfil a request from a friend to get a photo with Bono!). After quickly going virile the hilarious photo has led to the equally funny #Cumberbomb hashtag on Twitter, in which you can see Mr Cumberbatch appearing in all manner of bonkers places! I certainly hope we see him on that stage collecting an award in the future!
Finally, as for the fashion (it wouldn’t be the same without the glamour would it?!) my favourite dresses had to be Lupita N’Yongo’s beautiful Prada dress, in which she could have walked out of the pages of a fairytale picture book, Sandra Bullock’s gorgeous midnight blue Alexander McQueen gown and Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive. I was actually surprised that there weren’t any hugely dreadful frocks this year (even Lady Gaga looked relatively normal), with Liza Minnellli probably winning the worst dressed list for 2014.
So now it’s all over for another year, we can start to speculate on the films to watch for the next Awards season – I for one have my fingers crossed for The Imitation Game (no guesses who is in that)!