Month: March 2014

2013 Oscars Recap

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The Oscars ceremony, in my humble opinion, was hilarious. And, at times, beautiful. There were a couple of upsets for me, but they were upsets I saw coming. It was a good year for me as well. I correctly predicted the winner of every category I felt qualified to make a prediction in. Next year I may be able to speak on the shorts, foreign language films, and documentaries.

As for the actual content, Ellen’s opening monologue absolutely killed me. Everything about it was perfect. I especially love how every year within the opening monologue the host always seem up to bring up the film they want to win. For example, in 2009 Hugh Jackman brought up The Dark knight along with the films that were actually nominated. The end of Ellen’s speech is what really killed me though – “Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility number two, you’re all racists.” I actually died. If you missed it, it’s already up on YouTube.

Now, without further ado, let’s get started.

Best Original SongBest Original ScoreCostume DesignProduction Design –  Visual EffectsFilm EditingCinematographyWritingAnimated FeatureOther WinnersDirectingActingBest Picture

Best Original Song

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2 – Pharrell Williams
“Let it Go” from Frozen – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from Her – Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from Mandella: Long Walk to freedom – U2

This was not at all a surprise. I love their acceptance speech. It was very Disney, and oddly entertaining. What I really want to talk about are the performances of the night. U2 went on stage and was U2, so that was enjoyable. When I first typed up my predictions, though, I didn’t connect that Pharrell Williams was nominated. His performance was very entertaining and a lot of fun. I particularly liked when he went out into the front row and danced with Lupita Nyong’o , Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams. The Moon Song was creepy. I totally dug it, and I enjoyed that they didn’t try a big gimmick and just sat down on the stage and sang the song. As always, Idina Menzel knocked it out of the park. I don’t think people really realize just how hard that song is. Nearly the whole thing is belted, which could do some damage to the vocal chords  (I saw an opportunity and I took it). Her voice cracked a bit when she hit the big note, but it was still lovely. A nice win for the night.

Best Original Score

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

While everyone saw this coming, I still reserve the right to be a little bit upset by it. I really did not like the score to Gravity. I respect and congratulate Mr. Steven Price on his victory, but upon closer inspect I really would have given it to Alexandre Desplat for Philomena. I really found that one to be special. I loved how during the ceremony iconic film scores were playing (mostly done by John Williams) and each presenter got their own little theme song (“I Dreamed a Dream” was playing with Anne Hathaway walked out). I think one of these years, they should play some of the scores nominated. Not enough people really pay attention to the music, especially what impact it has during the film. I think it’s just as important as hearing the nominees for best original song.

Costume Design

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

On reflection, I probably would have given this one to American Hustle. We always award a ‘period piece’, but the costumes for American Hustle had a bit more of a ‘wow’ factor for me. I think it’s more difficult to portray styles of recent history without getting blocked by stereotypes and the like. The costumes for Gatsby were beautiful, the costumes for all of these films were beautiful. This was a very strong category this year.

Production Design

American Hustle – Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration)
Gravity – Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration)
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration)
Her -K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)
12 Years a Slave – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration)

I would have given this award to Gatsby hands down. The sets were what you would expect from these ladies, and they were absolutely beautiful, totally filled with awe, and each and every scene pulled me right into the time and the situation and the scene. I extend congratulations to Catherine Martin and Beverly Dunn for their beautiful work.

Visual Effects

Gravity -Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton
Iron Man 3 – Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick

This is one of the very few awards of the night I would have given to Gravity hands down. The movie looked spectacular. As much as I disliked Gravity, as much as I liked Smaug and Star Trek (well, sort of liked), this was Gravity’s award to win.

Film Editing

American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
Dallas Buyers Club – John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
12 Years a Slave – Joe Walker

I wouldn’t have given it to Gravity, but I understand why it won. The film looked beautiful, and for most people, they way it was cut together really made them feel like they were trapped in space. I mean, the movie blatantly ignored things like physics and logic and basic storytelling, but I am not violently upset that it won.


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

I’m sorry, but most of the shots in Gravity were of Sandra Bullock’s butt. This should have gone to 12 Years or ever Her. Maybe another movie on the list of nominees really deserved it – I don’t know, I haven’t gotten to any of them yet. I understand why it won, I wouldn’t have picked it, but I understand. Again, not violently upset that it won. I’ve had months to prepare myself.

Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley
Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray
The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter
Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

And everyone told me Philomena would win. Take that! 12 Years deserved this award so much, especially with the snubs in just about every other category (more on that later). This film was actual poetry on the screen, and I was so proud and filled and joy with they called up John Ridley. This is truly and important win. He is only the second black person to win in the writing category, the first being Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious. He went on to give me all the feels. “All the praise goes to Solomon Northup. Those are his words. His life.” Beautiful speech for a beautiful film.

Original Screenplay

Her – Spike Jonze
American Hustle – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club – Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Nebraska – Bob Nelson

And everyone said American Hustle was going to win. Boom, baby! Her was absolutely beautiful. The winners this year give me hope – they were poetry, masterful prose. Spike Jonze gave a lovely speech, as he is a truly adorable human being, and it was lovely. It was a great night for the writing category.

Animated Feature

The Croods – Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2 – Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Frozen – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki
Ernest & Celestine – Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner

A good win. I would have been unreasonably excited if The Wind Rises won, but this was really Frozen’s award to win this year. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the film because of the butchering of the culture that it borrowed from. What I have to say about that – nobody had even heard of these people before Frozen. You didn’t know about them or their struggles and unless Disney mentioned them you wouldn’t have known they were using an actual culture. You don’t have the right to complain that they didn’t do it well enough. I’m going to touch on that more later, but you have to accept little victories. This culture had no voice in mainstream media, and now it does. That’s more than a little victory, and we have to acknowledge that before we decide to condemn Disney because ‘they could have done better’.

Other Winners

These winners are by no means less important, these are just the guys I didn’t actually predict anything for in my previous post because I did not feel qualified or I didn’t feel like talking about Gravity.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger – Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

I did actually predict this one. I mean, come on. There was no way in heaven or hell the academy was about to give an Oscar to anything related to Jackass, and everyone hated the Lone Ranger. I don’t consider this to be a default win, though. I really think that American Hustle should have been nominated here, but I also really think that Dallas deserved this one. They had a $250 budget (which is nothing) and they did something beautiful.

Foreign Language Film

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

While they were cycling through the nominees, The Great Beauty immediately caught my eye. The one little bit of a scene they showed was beautiful. I haven’t seen any of the films in this category, so I am particularly interested to see what everyone else thinks about these. I was quite happy when this one won, and I was also very pleased to hear Martin Scorsese mentioned in their acceptance speech.

Documentary Feature

The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom – Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers 

I normally love documentary, so I was a bit disappointed in myself that I hadn’t seen any of these. I was immediately interested  in The Act of Killing. Let me know what you think about these. With that in mind, this was one of my favorite acceptance speeches of the night. Sister-girl got a standing ovation. After that my dad turned to me and said, “12 Years better win after that.”

Documentary Short Subject

Cave Digger – Jeffrey Karoff
Facing Fear – Jason Cohen
Karama Has No Walls – Sara Ishaq
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – Edgar Barens

This movie is important and I need to see it. That’s all I have to say about that.

Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips – Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
Inside Llewyn Davis – Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

I also called this one. Everyone called this one. I don’t know much about sound mixing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Gravity truly and completely deserved this one. I also heard great hings about Inside Llewyn Davis (I saw and opportunity and I took it). Regardless, Skip Lievsay would have won something.

Sound Editing

All is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney
Gravity – Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Brent Burge and Chris Ward
Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Again, I don’t know much about sound. I almost would have given it to Smaug, but mostly because I’m an ass and I need to spite Gravity. Sound people. Come out from the wood works and set me right, please.

Short Film

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) – Esteban Crespo
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) – Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
Helium – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) – Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
The Voorman Problem – Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

I just want to say that there were a lot of foreign films being honored this year, and I think that’s wonderful. I haven’t seen any of these even though I really should have. If you’ve seen any of these, please tell me what you think!

Short Animated Film

Feral – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
Get a Horse! – Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
Mr. Hublot – Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Possessions – Shuhei Morita
Room on the Broom – Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

I also should have seen these. If you’ve been on my blog as any point recently, you would know that I love animation. Like, a lot. I want to go into filmmaking, but I also secretly want to be an animator. Also not, because it might take some of the magic away. I haven’t decided yet. I was immediately intrigued by all of these films, and I will be watching them, but I mostly wanted to talk about the acceptance speech. It was wonderful. The guy who was talking was shaking so hard! I could tell just looking at him that this was a dream realized, and it just reaffirmed all of those crazy dreams I have.

Now we’re getting into the ‘big’ awards. They’re all big awards, but I really have something to say about a lot of these.


Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón
American Hustle – David O-Russell
Nebraska – Alexander Payne
12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen
The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese

I love Alfonso Cuaron and he deserves an award. This movie was hard to make, and I understand why he won. I would have given it to Steve McQueen in a heart beat, but you know. My problem with this category is the presenters. Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poitier. Image this: it’s the 2006 Oscars, and Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola are there presenting the best director Oscar. Martin Scorsese doesn’t win. He did win, but these were three of his closest friends there to present the award to him (finally), so image if they set that up and he didn’t win. This is essentially how I feel about this year’s award. Angelina Jolie is Brad Pitt’s wife – he was the producer for 12 Years a Slave. She was there with the cast, she knew them. Sidney Poitier was the first black man to win and Oscar and the second black person to win an Oscar. This year is the 50th anniversary of his historic victory. Steve McQueen would have been the first black person to win best director and he is only the third to be nominated. This was set up for 12 Years a Slave even though everyone knew Alfonso was going to win. And that’s just painful. I’m not saying we didn’t break barriers. Alfonso Cuaron is the first Hispanic (please correct me on my terminology if need be) to win best director, and that’s extremely important. We still broke barriers in this category, and even though it wasn’t the barrier I wanted, it was still important. Cue dramatic sigh.

Supporting Actress

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

I knew in my heart that she was going to win. I could feel it. But that did not stop the last second doubts from creeping in, that maddening nervousness that the academy was going to massively screw up and give it to Jennifer Lawrence. But they came through! Everyone was crying as Lupita went up to accept her award – she got a standing ovation. It took about two seconds for the screenshot of Benedict Cumberbatch crying to make it onto the magical land of tumblr. She sped on well past the 90 second mark, and (thankfully) nobody stopped her. “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.” Yes. Yes, yes, yes. This win was important. It was really, really important. And they played her off with “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was completely perfect and totally called for. “Because she’s chocolate,” my father remarked.

Supporting Actor

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

Again, it has been a fantastic year for actors. It was abundantly clear as we cycled through the clips of each and every one of them. I did cringe just a bit with Michael Fassbender’s intense performance being plopped right in between Bradley Copper and Jonah Hill. He really should have gotten a bit more recognition, I think. But, as we all expected, Jared Leto took home the prize and gave the first speech of the night. Which was completely touching and beautiful. People have called it a plug for his band, and I call those people rude. His band is something he loves, how the hell could he not mention it while winning his Oscar? I loved what he had to say about his mother, his brother, and the many victims of AIDS. This was also a very important movie and an important win. He gave a brilliant performance.


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

I know a lot of people wanted it to go to Amy Adams, but this simply was not her year. She’ll have her moment. I have yet to see Blue Jasmine, but the clip they showed completely blew me away (I saw an opportunity and I took it). This was her year and her award to win. This was actually a very strong category this year, but there was no question as to who was going to take home the gold.


Again, fantastic year for actors. You know it’s a great year when Tom Hanks doesn’t make the cut.

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

His speech, though. I wasn’t completely sure what he was talking about at one point, but he did bring it all together in the end. He really said something. I told myself that I wouldn’t be upset when he won, that he did a great job, but I failed in this mission. I was upset. Not violently so, but enough to become a bit forlorn for a few minutes. Chiwetel Eljiofor was head and shoulders above every actor in this category. You could tell just by the clip they played. He was like that the whole movie – subtle, most of the story being told on his face. As stated in previous entries, the “Roll Jordan, Roll” scene is one of my favorite scenes in cinematic history. Don’t get me wrong, McConaughey was brilliant, and this snub wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened in 1997 (Djimon Hounsou wasn’t even nominated – he should have won that year, damn it!) but he just wasn’t Chiwetel Eljiofor.

Best Picture

12-years-a-slave-posterAmerican Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon
12 Years a Slave – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas
The Wolf of Wall Street – Pending
Dallas Buyers Club – Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter
Nebraska – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman
Her – Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay
Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward
Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca

My reaction went something like this: YES! YES! KFNVJHNCSODCSLFVNASKFNCDKJNSLFVNSFVFNALJN! And then I rolled onto the floor and had a total spaz attack because yes! This is really important, guys! This is really, extremely important! The last movie to win best picture that had anything to do with American slavery was Gone With the Wind. In 1940. When the winner for Best Actress in a Supporting role couldn’t get into the theater because she was black and the security didn’t know who she was (don’t worry, she made it in eventually). In 1986, we all had to sit and watch as The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Oscars – and lost each and every one of them. We had to endure the 1997 Oscars as Amistad – arguably the best picture of that year, definitely one of the most important – wasn’t even nominated. Here is where we come back to the ideas I expressed under Best Animated Feature and Best Director – Yes, 12 Years a Slave was snubbed this year. Yes, it should have been nominated for and won more awards. But best supporting actress, best adapted screenplay, best freaking picture – those are victories! Those are hugely important, and we cannot ignore them simply because someone says there weren’t ‘enough’. This is something that should be shown in classrooms, this is a story people need to know. I second Steve McQueen’s impressive jump after his speech – we should all be jumping like that because this is a victory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What did you think of the Oscars this year? Let me know in the comments below, and have a very nice day.