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Oscar Night Crumbs, Mysteries and Endearments

Here we are, the final Oscar night review post. Except for the ones coming tomorrow so, um, no never mind. Can I take that intro again? The Final Oscar Night Review Post... Tonight! Tomorrow a few more tidbits. I'm still debating but I can probably keep at it longer than you can stand to read about it.

Is that a threat?"
- terrified reader.

A random collection of thoughts is the only way I'll get through this this year because my mind is more scrambled than in year's past when it comes to Oscar night. I seriously need a team like "you get this topic", "you take that one." "You! Everything Meryl, go!" (that hypohetical person wins the assignment sweepstakes obviously). Bear with me and continue the conversation in the comments. 

Ready? Here we go on the whirlwind review

Opening Monologue & Performance
Ellen was in fine form here, and pretty daring (for Ellen). I think what really elevated it was the reaction shots. Live performances are, in some ways, only as good as their audience and the stars really love Ellen. It's so humanizing to see these mythic figures act so much like any of us might when a comedian suddenly singles us out from the crowd (even a comedian as relatively benign as Ellen). Adams, Streep, Squibb, Dern everybody was just showing their embarrassment but also that they were good sports. Except for maybe Liza but more on her later. Even Jennifer Lawrence, queen of clutzes, seemed to be like "oh noooos" when Ellen went straight for her clutziness.

It was all a perfect lead in to Pharrell's "Happy" in which Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams all shimmied with the pop star. And here we pause for a moment to remember that Don Gummer is the luckiest man alive.

For, surely, Streep is the best companion possible to anything - always game and occasion-appropriate whether you're looking for serious tribute or goofy comedy. (If you taped the show you must replay and take note of how hard Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt are laughing because Meryl is, as ever, the life of all movie parties. 

Though I never share the opinion that the Oscars are too long. (I'd gladly take a four and a ½ hour show if that means I get my Honoraries back in there) I will readily admit that the first ½ hour was so strong that the show had trouble maintaining that much energy. And though the pizza bit brought us two photos we really can't live without, did it have to take up so much of the show? 

I ranked Jim Carrey very low (#37 !!!)  in my anticipation of presenters but he was one of the top performers, at total ease with solo banter and doing a hilarious and/or terrifying Bruce Dern impression.

WHO SURPRISED YOU?  My order of excitement for the presenters was like 37 kinds of wrong, people. Mea culpa.    

1. Are Australian bras used for storage of notes and tissues at the rate Catherine Martin would have us believe?
2. Why does the control room choose such weird cutaways like "Here's Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face during a June Squibb bit!"? 
3. Worse yet why does the control room think I want to be looking at Kate Hudson for LONGER than I'm looking at Judy Garland's children during the Judy Garland / Wizard of Oz tribute. I was in such a rage I thought I might pass out.  
4. What do you suppose Cate Blanchett had to say to Sally Hawkins after Pharrell wrapped up "Happy"?

5. And do you think they coordinated their beaded froufrou / delicate ladies outifts? 

Can We Talk About the Heroes Montages?
Sally Field came out looking lovely and talking about "quiet acts of heroism" It was basically a tribute to biopics and they covered: 42, Serpico, Milk, Gandhi, Norma Rae, Lincoln, Captain Phillips, Ali, All The President's Men, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Philadelphia, To Kill a Mockingbird, Norma Rae, Untouchables, Born on the 4th of July, Apollo 13, Silkwood, Ben Hur, The Butler, Dallas Buyers Club, The King's Speech, and Lawrence of Arabia 

Later Captain American himself, one of my three spirit guides for 2014, appeared to cover the superhero portion of the "Heroes" theme or at least that's what I thought it was but jesus that was one relentlessly random montage. The theme seamed to boil down to visual effects epics with protagonists, a few sword and sandal movies, Errol Flynn, Bruce Lee, FOOTLOOSE (um...), TOP GUN -- where are we going with this Oscar?... and then landing somewhere in the vicinity of Will Smith in The Wild Wild West and Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild which should obviously always be programmed together in the future. This grotesque frankenstein collage was like watching bleary-eyed editors in some dark dungeon in the recesses of AMPAS headquarters experience psychotic breaks as the producers kept contradicting each other and changing their minds. 

It was so confusing that the only takeaway I had was "not enough ladies" followed by a long forgotten fact Kevin Costner could once just get it. And you wouldn't even have to explain yourself afterwards. I remind you: Kevin Costner in The Untouchables. Dayum. 

What did you miss during the Broadcast?
When I watch the Broadcast back the next day -- that's right whiners, I watch it TWICE within 24 hours so quit complaining that it's too long at 3 and a 1/2 hours. It's 7 hours chez moi!  -- I ALWAYS see something I hadn't seen before. Was I grabbing a drink? Talking to friends? Peeing? All three? 

Three things I hadn't noticed before... 

  1. How late Christoph Waltz was entering so he had to practically jog to the podium with jaunty music egging him on. 
  2. Kristen Bell's name being pronounced "Kristen B. Ell" for a joke since she was presenting with Michael B Jordan. (That wasn't unmissable but my point is: Kristen Bell!
  3. And that delightful cut to commercial above where Ellen says "more Oscar surprises coming up" and completely catches Sandra Bullock and Leonardo DiCaprio by surprises. How she did that with all the cameras following her I'll never know. Perhaps cameras are like flies to Sandy & Leo and they barely notice them after 20 years of fame.  

Worst Moments

  1. John Travolta's "the one and only Adela Dazeem!" (tweets about that here)
  2. Matthew McConaughey's Acceptance Speech
  3. The choice of the Supporting Actor clips -- Really weird choices. Bradley just screaming? "I'm the captain now" again? etcetera (P.S. I've included which clips they've used on the Oscar charts
  4. Jennifer Lawrence's ornery weird aside "why are you laughing" as she entered to present

Best Moments

  1. Lupita Nyong'o's win - such a lovely perfect "your dreams are valid" moment and that intro to her speech, acknowledging Patsey but not in the cheap way winners often acknowledge the real life characters they played, was perfection.
  2. Meryl Streep "I've never tweeted before!" - breaking twitter with most all time RTs on her first try.
  3. Cate Blanchett's awesome call to arms "The World is Round" -- but more on that speech tomorrow
  4. Meryl Streep shimmying
  5. Ellen DeGeneres Overall
  6. Brad Pitt passing out paper plates
  7. P¡nk's "Over the Rainbow" - sorry, I loved it!
  8. The intense happiness of the non-famous who win Oscars. (Note: this is always part of the "Best Moments" list)
  9. Sung Acceptance Speeches (these are also always part of "Best Moments" list)
  10. Angelina Jolie & Sidney Poitier
  11. and of course... watching the winning / losing moments over and over again


One Last Selfie Bit
Finally, let's conclude with one last note on that selfie bit. I am already certain it's going to be what the 86th ceremony will be remembered for. What would Greer Garson, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Norma Shearer, Brando, and George C Scott have possibly made of it? I have only just now realized that Jared Leto was not invited to this sudden group portrait and, based on where he was seated, must have RUN across the entire auditorium to be in this shot. And Ellen DeGeneres accused Brad Pitt of being a camera hog!


Good night. xo!

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Reader Comments (54)

Weirdest moment: American Hustle, completely shut out.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

When are you going to analyze LIZA? I remain confused on her moments on
The telecast.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

But can we talk about Kim Novak? I think Matthew McConaughey had a come-to-Jesus with her in between presenting awards. And Bette Midler who, God love her, needed some wind beneath those notes. I adore Pink, but her weird breathing between syllables of words made the singer in me die a little inside.

I'm glad that most everyone seemed to have a fabulous time. I've never seen Angelina smile so much.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Liza undoubtedly threw shade at Ellen during her opening monologue.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

My gosh, Amy Adams knows how to dance. Even if it was only for those few seconds, I can't imagine the confidence she must've had to muster to do something like that and not look like an idiot. Get it, girl. Someone please put her on Broadway.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Jared Leto was on Ellen's show today and gave a hilarious account of how he just had to be in that picture. Ellen said she could hear him running over.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

I agree with your worst moment list but I do think Kate Hudson looked stunning (as oppose to her mother who really needs to learn to age gracefully)

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Thank you for admitting you were wrong for ranking Jim Carrey so low; the man was born to present at awards shows. Here's hoping he has an Oscar in his future!

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

And I'd also like to add how much I enjoyed Ellen hosting this year. She was very funny and affable, and her obvious rapport with a large number of big stars made the show feel a lot more relaxed and tension-free; I wouldn't be surprised to see her back again next year.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

was lupita's brother invited to the photo?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I love love loved all the acting clip choices this year particular the laughter june Squibbs got:)

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdave

Sorry, one more addendum. My favourite moment of the telecast was Karen O taking her shoes off and placing them right next to her during her performance of 'Moon Song.' It added a little wrinkle that really enhanced the low-key nature of her performance.

The best musical number of the evening IMO.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Some (breath) where o (breath) ver the rainbow

What the hell was that breathing?
I also think she failed to capture the meaning of the song, the reason to why she was saying those words. very disappointing, since she has delivered good performances in the past, both vocally and emotionally.

Still, she was at least 5 times better then Adele Dazeem.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Goodbar

i love how peter nyong'o is going to have people asking "who....?" for years to come

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Nathaniel - If you could have a retroactive Oscar group selfie from any ceremony, which would it be and who would be in it?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

the note/tissue in the bra thing is very australian, but surely it's not only us?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Loved Streep last night! After 18 nominations and 3 wins- she was the queen in that room. Did not matter that she lost at all.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

par I can only speak for myself but as an American I frequently store small things in my bra when I have no pockets or bag to carry them in. It's just handy.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

Jared Leto's acceptance speech didn't make your best moments list? That was my top moment. Otherwise, I agree with everything you said.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Worst Moments
1. Asking Amy Adams if she went to college (some people just make different choices; Amy has mentioned in interviews that she is embarrassed by that choice.)
2. The Liza joke(s)--ew, kind of disgraceful
3. "Wind Beneath my Wings" after memorial montage. I love Bette, but the song choice and her unfortunate rendition just didn't work
4. Jim Carrey. I value his talent but lately he tries too hard with old schtick. Great during Streep's AFI thing, but that was 10 years ago, and now he just seems ready for the Poconos (a la Billy Crystal)

Best Moments
1. One of my three wishes (almost) fulfilled: Twenty Feet from Stardom winning and a Gospel-ly bit from Darlene Love. Yay! Too bad the good moment was cut short and abrupt with Kevin Spacey as Francis, which would have been really funny a few segments later, once we came down from the standing "o" for Love.
2. Selfie--no question! Streep really tried hard to fill in for awards-circuit queen, Emma Thompson, and she did an admirable job. Also love Spacey's and Nyong'o brother's faces in that pic. Also love the Streep pizza photo that's been circulating, with her husband looking like "what the heck am I supposed to do with this?".
3. Spike Jonze winning for Her, my #2 movie of the year.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

So glad you mentioned Lawrence's random "What are you laughing at?/What's so funny?/I got my eye on you" spiel. It's like girl, you're presenting, not winning, keep your weirdness in check for the 60 seconds it takes to say what you're supposed to say.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Jennifer Lawrence stole the night again and her "What are you laughing at" was hilarious and real. Part of the reason why the selfie broke records is because she was in it - she is the queen of the internet.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoJo

Best Moments:
-Everything Pharell: THAT'S how you bring a younger audience to these things. Not Zac Efron.
-Karen O's shoes, performance, moon, all of it. I missed the movie in that moment, even though I didn't love it.
-Pink: she can saaang.
-Amy Adams' pure joy and eye-sparkle at Spike Jonze's win.
-Ladies' acceptance speeches. #suckit; you know what I mean?
-The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life. Yay Montreal!
-Bill Murray's tribute: I teared up.
-Brangelina. Hollywood royalty at its most glamorous.

Weirdest Moments:
-Goldie Hawn's intro music was from... As Good As It Gets?? Anyone care to explain the relationship there?
-Idina Menzel, disappointing again with a live TV performance. See also: Streisand tribute.
-Matthew McConaughey's speech.
-Bette MIdler thinking the standing ovation was hers after the In Memoriam section.

Worst Moments:
-The fact that some people thought Matthew McConaughey gave the best speech.
-Bette MIdler's atrocious rendition.
-Pizza schtick: sorry, filler humour, not my cup of tea.
-Lack of opening montage. That oughta be a tradition.
-That hero's montage. No but seriously.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterG.ShaQ

I found the choice of Will Smith presenting Best Picture quite disappointing. Based on some of the legendary actors were given this honor in the past, it was downright stupid. DeNiro, Streep, Poitier all are far better choices for that honor.

And where were Minnelli's undergarments?

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

While Menzel may not have been technically great as many have pointed out, I loved watching her perform. The song felt personal. And when her voice cracked and she carried on with "the cold never bothered me anyway" I was really moved.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterQueermyntcritic

@Jordan ITA on Amy Adams dancing skills! I've been praying for a David'O Russell-Amy Adams-Bradley Cooper dance movie ever since I saw American Hustle.

Here's her clip from the Oscars!

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterysh87

Don't apologise for loving Pink singing Over the Rainbow - I loved it too!!!!

Worst moment: McConaughey's speech, followed very, very closely by Travolta getting Idina Menzel's name wrong. A huge, exciting, nerve-wracking moment for a singer and the douche who introduces you gets your name wrong. Maybe it was just a bit of, "I don't know who she is, I'm totally not gay!"

Best moment: A Lupita and Cate tie, followed by Ellen's "J-Law is a clutz" bit (if we can't have Fey/Poehler, let's just stick with the fabulous Ellen for a while), the selfie and the Lupita, Meryl, Amy dance bit.

Also, agree with Patryk that Will Smith was a bad choice for best picture. Maybe one day, but not yet. Why not Glenn Close for that? She has four more nominations than him.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErko

I agree with your high points, Ellen was a great slumber party host. she needed the audience with her, and fortunately they were. I absolutely loved the fabulous trio for dancing along to "Happy"-will someone please get Amy Adams into a Broadway musical, please!! Failing that put her into a movie musical, or a TV show.
The down side was on the production side, a totally pathetic montage devoted to heros in movies.
A vague theme which was not visually stunning or moving in any real way.
I am a long time Bette Midler fan, and even I found her gestures were too much.
Midler is at her best when cracking jokes, and singing up tempo. I truly wish she had been used for a tribute to bkgrd singers, make up artists, or costume design.
I think Ellen will be back, and the producers need to borrow from The Tony Awards, and use more of the on screen talent to bring the fun.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I didn't think Bette thought the standing O was hers it seemed all performers had to stay on stage until the commercial break which sometimes took forever to cut to. I blame the producers for those weird moments . I loved the Happy dancing , Ellen's monologue including the Liza joke. I mean surely Liza wouldn't take offence at something like that, and why should she , she loves the gays and vice versa. Loved Jolie/Pitt all night long in general they seemed so much more relaxed and fun than at previous awards.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

If I may suggest a theme for next years ceremony can it be about the VILLAINS, it would be the perfect use of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes and Kathy Bates

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

Good write-up! The whole Steve McQueen/John Ridley feud was probably the most fascinating part of the broadcast for me - neither worst nor best, but at least it added something unexpected and real to the evening.

Best moments - The elegant and supremely talented DDL hands the Oscar to the elegant and supremely talented Cate (having the prior year's present is ONE tradition they haven't gotten rid of... yet); Darlene Love and her standing O (though almost everyone got a standing O - poor Cuaron, none for him!); Bill Murray and his Harold Ramis tribute; Pharrell and Karen O.

Worst - Those dumb montages and their narrow definition of hero (I have about 20 movies I think should have been included there, in a minimum; for starters where was my movie hero Marge Gunderson?); Sally Field is relegated to presenting a dumb montage while Will Smith presents Best Picture; McConaughey, McConaughey, McConaughey (I don't even care about the win, but the speech...); that strange J Law bit.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

i think bette knew very well that the standing o is both for her performance and the memoriam montage, and i can felt the energy that she's singing to the people in the montage

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

Although this was the first time I was able to watch the ceremony, I still love your posts about it so much, I see it as a promise and not a threat that there will be more.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

So glad you mentioned Lawrence's random "What are you laughing at?/What's so funny?/I got my eye on you" spiel. It's like girl, you're presenting, not winning, keep your weirdness in check for the 60 seconds it takes to say what you're supposed to say.

She probably shouldn't have reacted, but with Ellen pretending to trip offstage in the hopes of getting another stumble causing people near her to laugh laughing according to Matthew McConaughey, can you really blame her for getting distracted?

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCC

Best Moments
American Hustle shut out. Sorry to those who loved the movie but I thought the script just asked the audience to accept and overlook too many unrealistic elements. (Like how after being arrested and held for days early in the film, the FBI somehow had no idea Lady Edith was a false identity, the laughably lame fake lawyer scam at the end, etc)

Chris Hemsworth. He should should stand there and announce all the nominees and winners next year. The deep voice, the accent all wrapped in that gorgeous package.

Ellen as Glinda. Don't even know why I found that so funny but I laughed when she walked out in that outfit.

Worst Moments

Jan Trooloovoo - Oh wait I mean John Travolta. No excuse for that. I think it even played a part in her poor rendition of the song.

I'll echo others - Nothing against Will Smith but he certainly has not reached the point in his career where he should present Best Picture (And the film he had out this year was the flop After Earth, another reason he should not have presented). That should be an elder statesman, a true legend.

Philomena, Captain Philips, Her, Nebraska and Wolf of Wall Street combined won fewer Oscars than the The Great Gatsby. Interesting trivia though, in 1974 The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford won two Oscars and in 2014 The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio won two Oscars.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

Eddie Murphy presented Best Picture back in the 1980s. Elizabeth Taylor presented it solo when she was in her thirties (she's admittedly an exceptional case in terms of having the Hollywood history/gravitas at such a relatively young age). People complain that it's always Jack/Harrison Ford/Michael Douglas types presenting BP, but when they get someone younger, that's a problem, too. I think AMPAS should turn to more female stars for it, but Will Smith had years as an enormous box office draw and he's been nominated for multiple Oscars. It's not like they got Adam Sandler out there.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Meryl and Lupita stole Amy Adams' dance thunder. Her shimmy while going don back to her seat with Pharrell was my fave bit of the whole ceremony. She was loose and sexy as hell.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada


Rupert G sang 'Let it go' on Letterman last night. It was probably the best rendition that I've heard so far.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

I think people are under the impression that no one applauded during the In Memoriam segment. But there's been criticism in the past that the applause turned the segment into a popularity contest, which was tacky. So it seemed to my group watching that they cut the audio in the theater so viewers couldn't hear any applause - this would explain why they had Midler sing AFTER the segment, not during (they wouldn't be able to cut out the applause but keep in Midler's voice at the same time). So sure, part of the standing o might have been in honor of those who passed this year, but this was a VERY standing o-friendly crowd and they seemed to genuinely appreciate Midler's emotionally moving (if technically underwhelming) performance.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Yes I agree about Will Smith at least it was an unusual choice and not another white male star, who has done it a thousand times before, hopefully next year we can get a female star to present it

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

uh, Costner is mine, Nathaniel, MINE!!!

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Eddie--In addition, both years that a Great Gatsby production was eligible, it won Best Costume. Score for 74, Production design for 13 were the other two.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

So many off-key moments.

Ellen is famous for her energy and her dancing and she fell totally flat. No Bill Crystal-style singing tribute? I liked Deadspin's description: "This year's Oscars will be hosted by milquetoast elf puppet Ellen DeGeneres. When you want joke-like objects but don't want ACTUAL humor that might make anyone in the audience uncomfortable, Ellen's your woman." Makes you pine for Amy and Tina.

Matthew McC's speech... absolutely awful and shameful not to mention AIDS victims. I hope his career renaissance ends as swiftly as it began.

Will Smith of After Earth presenting Best Pic... And remind me about the point of the "heroes" theme...

There were some good acceptance speeches, but if a celebrity selfie is the highlight of the show... do better next year.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

I am still seething about the 1974 Oscar for costumes going to Gatsby over Murder On the Orient Express! I mean, did they SEE the MOVIE!!!! BLECH.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I for one LOVED Pink, Idina Menzel and Bette Midler's performances.

And there were only four cringeworthy moments;-

1.John Travolta mangling Idina Menzel's name
2. Will Smith presenting Best Picture. Surely that was Sidney Poitier's role?
3. Mathew McConaughey's weird speech. I groaned when he started prattling on about God.

4. Those hero montages. There was no need for these. Although it was nice to see the delig
htful Sally Field, these montages were not necessary.

Overall I enjoyed the telecast and wouldn't have a problem if Ellen came back next year.

My rating - 8 our of 10.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

I really disliked Jennifer Lawrece's aside to the laughing audience member when she came out to present Best Actor. I know the world is in love with her and all, but she strikes me as very rude and hungry for attention.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

Here is more about the Pizza Guy and the Samsung deal: http://consumerlawmagazine.com/the-truth-about-oscars-pizza-guy-and-ellen/ :-)

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristinaForbes


Didn't know that was happening offstage, but even still, there's getting distracted and there's losing your composure. I just think that one ought to be a bit more professional while presenting, and it's weird she had to strike up a random convo with someone right off the bat, and then begin presenting duties before suddenly calling out that person again. I'm all for quirky weirdness but surely she could have kept it together in the brief time it takes to walk out and say what's on the teleprompter.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I was puzzled by Will Smith presenting Best Picture till I realised the Academy were covering their bases:

12 YEARS wins - we need a black presenter! Will Smith!

GRAVITY wins - it's a space blockbuster! Will Smith!

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

McConaughey's acceptance speech was the best of the night. NEXT!

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFreddy

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