Oscar History

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The Winning Moment & The Loveable Losers

Oscar night is still rich with the thrill of victory but not, I'd argue, with the agony of defeat. At least not anymore. The Oscar race has never been as sports-analogous as some would like but the victory part in the modern awards season maybe. That requires true endurance... months of campaigning and appearance and interviews and people whisking you here and there. The agony of defeat is surely now lessened by way of expectations. There didn't use to be all these signposts along the way that you're never going to win which might account for how polite and calm the losers are in their little live-television grids. Nevertheless we still love to slow-mo the shit out of those moments.

We're doing three and a half categories (Supporting Actress, Director, Actress, and ?)  starting now...

So many people manhandled Lupita Nyong'o on her way to the stage - including inexplicably Liza Minnelli but we'll get to her later --  that I hope she had lots of purex handy. Don't you just adore her 'My God. Who Me?' face to Brad Pitt (speaking of that "Heroes" theme - he deserved that Oscar for getting this movie made) as she tries to process amongst all the grabby well wishers.

But let's skip back a moment to the envelope opening.

click to embiggen

Row 1. Julia and Sally are smart cookies and know it's not them. I like to think Julia is like "oooh c'mon on Lupita. Defeat that "america's sweetheart impostor!" Who knows what June Squibb is thinking. But Jennifer and Lupita are so frozen tense, but same thought bubble for sure "Let it be Lupita!"
Row 2.  June's all 'ah well, lotsa parties and guest star gigs!' No one is happier than Lupita. Except Jennifer Lawrence. "Thank God! Whooooooo"
Row 3. Everyone's calm down except Lupita whose name forever gets 8 extra syllables "Academy Award™ Winner Lupita Nyong'o" 

We'll skip BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR since everyone in that category was under no illusion that anyone but Jared Leto as Jesus as Rayon was going to win. A TV talking head last night who shall not be named even went so far as to tell us on the red carpet that...

Rayon is one of the all time great characters committed to film"

In related news: people should see more than 10 movies in their lifetime. All the nominees including Jared were emotion-free during the announcement.

This one isn't usually as exciting. Though it seemed like everyone knew Cuarón would win, the directors all seemed tense anyway. Was it how long it took Sidney Poitier to open the envelope?  Angelina Jolie to the rescue!

click to embiggen

Row 1. Alfonso Cuarón is the only one smiling. "I got this"... but it's a fake it till you make it moment because in Row 2 His eyebrows shoot up and in Row 3 they stay there. "I really did get this?!?!?! The Losers: Steve McQueen is a cool character just clapping; Marty processes and frowns (They're not all going to be The Departed good sir!); Alexander Payne closes his eyes and then nods, and Russell is tense lipped clapping. 

The drama of it all! But with Payne and Russell, who can blame them. At this point they must be wondering what they have to do to win the whole Best Director game. They recover quickly though. I imagine they're thinking "Next time" or...



We'll skip Best Actor because it makes me uncomfortable. I hate it when contestants thank God. Like for example, both McConaughey and Bruce Dern were pleading with the man Upstairs as Jennifer Lawrence opened the envelope.

But if He cast the deciding vote, he's kind of an asshole because Dern wanted and need it more, you know? McConaughey has no time to worship the golden idol -- too busy worshipping the McConaughey. 

But I'm skipping it mostly because the internet has amply covered Leonardo's loss with moist recollections of the McConaughey hug that was held a beat too long and with "Poor Leo" memes popping up making this tweet the truest thing ever. The internet is really invested in DiCaprio's career, isn't it? It's kinda great to watch from a detached perspective.

My absofav editorial commentary on Leo, though, comes from a cartoonist at The Guardian. Click on the photo to read the full pretty great comic. 

Despite Slate and Salon's best efforts to derail Blanchett (seriously what was up with the constant articles about her & what she should do about Woody?) the goddess prevailed and took her second, enormously deserved Oscar for a career-topping performance.  Still, despite being the frontrunner she seemed super nervous during the envelope opening and her hugs and kisses from her husband and Sally Hawkins were just so much genuine thrill. 

The rest I'll leave to you to parse...

What were Amy, Meryl, and Sandra thinking?
And do you think Judi Dench was even watching at home? Read their minds in the comments! 

And here's a review of Oscar night with a larger scope


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Reader Comments (43)

Yes, JLaw is the happiest loser ever.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Hawkins didn't really lose. Cate's tribute during her speech is as good as an award any day. And Lupita is one of the freshest and most sincere reactions I have seen in some time.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

June Squibb seems a bit wistful, but yes, Jennifer Lawrence was totally relieved. She'll be back anyway, for Serena or East of Eden or some other performance in the next year or two.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

HENRY -- so true. and how great did Sally look, so fresh and happy all night

March 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jennifer didn't want it (hence why she didn't do any press post nominations, missed BAFTA), and was smart enough to know that if she did win there would be a backlash against her.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

What was up with during the Supporting Actress clips... that right after Sally Hawkins' scene, it went to black and June Squibb was shown instead!!

Did anyone else notice that???

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Glad to know I'm not the only one who was massively turned off my McBongo's speech. While I thought he gave the best performance and I was initially pleased that he won, when he started going on about God, he began to lose me (I'll admit, it's one of my flaws that when somebody starts talking about their love for God, my estimation of them begins to sink); then, when he started going on about how wonderful Matthew McConaughey is -- gag, I wanted to throw something at the screen. To paraphrase an Oscar voter: "I wish somebody loved me as much as Matthew McConaughey loves Matthew McConaughey."

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Meryl looks sexy in her box with the off-the-shoulder look. Losing really is much easier when you already have an Oscar.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

@Joseph: I (and I'm sure multitudes of others) had the exact same reaction to MeGodaughey. Not one mention of HIV/AIDS. He deserved the award, but that speech was pure classlessness.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Sandy: "Another gold statue, still cant beat my 70 million pay-check"
Amy: "I gotta terminate my contract with David and sign a new one with Woody"

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

Meryl: "Where's the pizza at?"

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Also was it me, or did Cate also call out Julia on her category fraud

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

Is Cate the new Meryl,does any1 know what clips they showed for the nominees i am in uk and was up early so could not watch.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

I believe that Gravity was much more than a paycheck for Bullock. She has hinted a couple of times that as a work experience, this was transcendent for her, not just as a actor, but as a person so to have won for it would have been very meaningful. I also don't think Cate was dissing her in her speech but making a reference to how harrowing the part was.....it was meant to be a compliment, but came out awkwardly.

As for Streep--She is probably thinking that if she has to lose (again) at least this time she is losing to brilliance.

Adams--That face and her general attitude all night felt like she is fed up being nominated and never winning. Adams needs to stop taking projects in order to win awards and start taking them because she wants to do the part. Of all the acting nominees, she is the one who feels the most desperate to win, which never reads well. None of the others made their film with Oscar in mind, especially MM, Leto and Lupita or even Cate and I think it reads on screen. Once the cudos start coming in, it may turn to a different story but during filming, t was just the work.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Apparently Cate was nearly late for the Best Actress hand-out due to having drinks with Julia at the bar, hence the #suck-it line.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMonty

I really don't see how Amy was desperate to win, or that she took the role to win an award. In the moment, I'd agree that she needs a Woody Allen movie, but I'm not sure they have compatible styles--- plus Amy would work better as supporting in an Allen picture. She gives an excellent, very different performance in Hustle, much as she did in The Fighter. I think Russell brings out the best in her, frankly.

Nathaniel, THANK YOU for mentioning the stream of articles on Cate and the "Woody Problem" for her speech. Frankly, I think it was a manufactured issue, but insofar as they made it one, she handled her Woody thank you beautifully. He handed her the role and told her to go. If you get that opportunity as an actor, with a role and cast and crew able to hold you up, you run with it, but you know where you got the part from in the first place.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDanny Hall

Adams is happy for Blanchett.
Streep is thinking, ok, let's go back home as soon as possible.
Bullock seems surprised (but not pissed) Blanchett won. She must've been in a different world for the last few months.

If there's something good about loooong award seasons and the billions of award shows is that actors and actresses have time to hang out together and befriend each other, so it's going to be difficult to see sore loser reactions any more. I think Amy Adams, for instance is genuinely happy for the winner (she always looks happy, every year). I think that's the reason for the Julia Roberts reference in Blanchett's speech.

By the way, I loved Blanchett's speech, giving half her time to say something specific about every other nominee, even Julia Roberts! is not something everyone does (cough, McConaughey, cough) And somehow it was also kind of inadvertently acknowledging the category fraud (you too belong to this category, suck it). And poking fun (even if very mildly) at Bullock's performance was just priceless. I do think though that she felt forced to get over Woody Allen as fast as possible due to all the media thing, which is a shame, he's the one responsible for that role, no matter what.

Didn't like McConaughey's speech, when someone is so thankful to God I can't help thinking about Kirk Cameron. And the rest was just rambling, rambling, rambling.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Henry--disagree about Adams. She had a great awards season, article in the NYTimes, cover of mags. Did you see her teary eyes when Spike Jonze won? And she was fantastic in his movie! She knew she didn't have a shot against Cate this year. I think it's only the internet who sees Amy Adams as an also-ran, or as an actress who's desperate to win. She's not super great on panels or in interviews, but her colleagues and other industry execs like her. You don't take roles in super-hero movies thinking you're going to win awards. But you do sign up for The Master, The Fighter, American Hustle, and even Sunshine Cleaning, if you want to act, to create a real character.

Not sure how you're supposed to feel losing a big award like this. Although, Jennifer Lawrence was THRILLED because she's savvy enough to know the amount of venom she would have to deal with if she had won over Lupita.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Am I the only one who didn't see what was wrong with McConaughey's speech? He talked about how God and his family inspire him, and how his goal is to always be improving himself...is that wrong? What is he supposed to do, grovel on stage and say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive this little golden statue. Forgive this wretched soul!" ?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael G.

Henry -- What a stupid thing to say. How the hell do you know why Adams chooses her parts? Could it be that she likes working with great directors and actors? Because she is consistently good, and sometimes great, they want to work with her. And she's also late-30's, which means she's fast approaching the expiration date in Hollywood for any woman not named Meryl.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

With regards to McConaughey's speech, it wasn't completely terrible. It was just odd and reeked of unseemly chest-thumping. As a comment I read earlier today said, I wish someone loved me the way Matthew McConaughey loves himself.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Meryl - Losing is so much easier when you hace 3 Oscars...

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I think it's Adams' heavy campaigning season after season that makes people think she really wants to win. And, honestly, who doesn't want to win an Oscar?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

Raul- Ha! That unseemly chest-thumping totally reminded me of his scene in Wolf of Wall Street, with the crazy chant.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Michael G. - totally agree with you.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Folks, the God McConaughey was talking about was Uber-Matt, the apotheosis of Matthew McConaugheys, a pure spiritual force of all right all rightness beyond the reckoning of our feeble sensory perceptions. He is a benign, nondenominational deity, and He is accepting tributes, so stop putting yourselves all in a tizzy and GET TO WORSHIPIN'.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

@Dave -- I noticed that as well; just another flub on a night full of them.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I was re-watching Cate's speech and as much as I reckon she has her sense of humour and quirkiness, I feel her 'tribute' to her other nominees was just perfunctory except in the case of Judi Dench where she glowed and effused. Don't get me wrong I love Cate...I just wish she'd been different from many other past winners who merely mentioned their other nominees in lip service mode. I'm still trying to fathom her Sandra mention and also her Meryl part was kind of awkward. Anyway maybe I'm just over-analysing...Cate's performance is so well feted. Bravo!

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I think Amy, while obviously disappointed to not win yet again, has to have known that this performance of Cate's was one we'll be talking about for a loooong time. It just sucks for her that it came out the same year as her best chance to actually win. Oh well.

The McConaughey speech was weird because... like, huh? I've seen people say "if he wants to thank god, then let him thank god", but are we meant to be under the illusion that he is suddenly a big Jesus freak now? The pot-smoking guy who made romcom after romcom about wanting or having sex outside of marriage and then making a movie about AIDS? Where did this come from? So strange.

Cate Blanchett said in the press room that the Julia Roberts comment was an in joke from earlier in the night, hence the gails of laughter from Julia.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Precursors killled the drama. Why were the faces so small on screen?!!!

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

mark -- i included what clip they played in the individual Oscar charts right here

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Lupita's moment was everything.

Cate's was more a sigh of relief. If she somehow hadn't won for this piece of acting brilliance...

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First
March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

Well... that link didn't work. Ah well! OSCARS!

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

Cate called out Julia cos of some twitter thing. Hash tag something something.

Obviously a joke between the two and nothing to do with the category fraud.

I think she has a very good chance of getting 10 or more nominations in her lifetime. But noone will beat Meryl's staggering 18 noms.

And who knows Meryl might get a 19th nom for 'Into the woods'.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Cory -- i fixed it for you. super cute.

March 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"Adams--That face and her general attitude all night felt like she is fed up being nominated and never winning. Adams needs to stop taking projects in order to win awards and start taking them because she wants to do the part. Of all the acting nominees, she is the one who feels the most desperate to win, which never reads well. None of the others made their film with Oscar in mind, especially MM, Leto and Lupita or even Cate and I think it reads on screen. Once the cudos start coming in, it may turn to a different story but during filming, t was just the work."

Wow that's the hackiest bit of psychoanalysis I've ever read. TMZ needs to hire this person.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I have to say that I am quite astonished by this sudden out-of-this-world love you are feeling towards Blanchett.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Amy Adams is the new Kate Winslet. She'll probably win her award for an underwhelming performance too. More like a career achievement prize?

So who wins an Oscar first... Amy, Leo, Julianne Moore or Annette Bening?

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMel

In Nathaniel's defence - I am one of the world's biggest Blanchett agnostics (after what she did to Hepburn, she was dead to me for several years). But even I was floored by her performance and was ecstatic at her win (since Delpy/Gerwig/Binoche/Exarchopoulos weren't about to get it).

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Thank you for clarifying Cate's remark to Julia and the context in which it was made, it just makes me all the more envious of the people watching Oscars inside the Kodak. Wanna be best friends with these goddesses.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

Mel: Bening will not win. Moore might. DiCaprio probably might. Adams will.

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Since Elizabeth came out in 1998 and Blanchett dazzled me with her performance, I have been a hardcore fan of hers. So no, I'm not the last minute fanboy type

The same with Tilda Swinton. She gave me movieorgazm during Orlando way back in 1992 or was it 1993? So yeah huge and an old fan of hers as well

March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

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