Oscar Entertains Despite Few Surprises
March 3, 2014

It was a nice run, but I snapped a streak. For the last five years, I had seen the movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture before it was presented with a statuette. I think in all five of those years, I saw the movie the night before, or at least the weekend of, the Oscars. I blew it this year. 12 Years A Slave was in theaters during the week, but it was gone on Friday. I did go see American Hustle Saturday, but with no Oscar wins, I was shut out this year. I didn't even see Frozen.

I did, of course, watch the 86th Academy Awards last night on ABC, hosted by Ellen Degeneres. It was only her second time as host, but a good choice. She had a knack for getting the person she is picking on, to also enjoy the joke. In her monologue, Degeneres told Jennifer Lawrence that she wouldn't talk about the little stumble Lawrence took when she won last year, then proceeded to talk about it. She also offered to have the Oscar hand-delivered to Lawrence if she won again this year. Degeneres was also spot on when she said that there were so many possibilities that could unfold. “Possibility number one, 12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two, you're all racists.”

Unlike Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes, we saw a lot of Ellen. She tweeted a selfie of her and Meryl Streep and several other celebrities, ordered pizza and passed Pharrell Williams' trademark hat around to have the celebrity millionaires pay for it, and was dressed in a Glenda the Good Witch gown after a tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

Awards wise, there were few surprises. Gravity took home six Oscars, including Best Director. Having seen American Hustle, I thought Amy Adams was amazing, but it wasn't considered an upset that Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. I was stunned, though, that Let It Go from Frozen beat out U2's Ordinary Love for Best Song. I did not see that coming. The rhyming speech by husband-and-wife Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez was pretty cool, though—one of the best of the night.

No big honoree this year, but the salute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz was a highlight. Whoopi Goldberg narrated, Judy Garland's kids were in attendance (Liza Minelli's sister looks a lot like her, don't you think?), and Pink sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. In case you are wondering, Gone With the Wind won Best Picture in 1939, but no 75th anniversary tribute there.

Other highlights of the night...

Best speech: Lupita Nyong'o by far for Supporting Actress in 12 Years A Slave. The first-time nominee hit every emotional note. To Director Steve McQueen, she said, “thank you so much for putting me in this position. (crying) This has been the joy of my life.” More poignantly at the beginning she recognized, “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.” Honorable mention to the Lopez' for Best Song. Jared Leto won the first award for Best Supporting Actor, and made the first political reference, recognizing people in Ukraine and Venezuela. He also went a little long, though.

Worst speech: I only counted two occasions where the orchestra interrupted a speech to get the winner to wrap up. It should have happened to Blanchett, who rambled on and on and seemed to thank every one she ever met. Runner up to McQueen. The poor guy was having a great moment, winning Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave, but he was so nervous, and you couldn't understand a word that he said. You still had to feel happy for him, though.

Amen y'all: First, you wanted Matthew McConaughey to shut up, then you were laughing, then you wanted him to shut up again. Still, a unique and interesting, although rather long speech for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club. Somehow, with God and his own ego in there, he still spun a good yarn.

Presenting Pairings: Couldn't figure out how they decided to pair up the presenters, other than a hot babe with an old dude on several occasions (or maybe I should say a talented starlet with a venerable actor). You had Robert DeNiro and Penelope Cruz, Sidney Portier (who is 87 by the way) and Angelina Jolie, and Bill Murray and Amy Adams. They turned the tables with McConaughey and Kim Novak. Speaking of Murray, a nice moment when he mentioned his friend Harold Ramis, who just passed away. Ramis starred with Murray in Ghostbusters, appeared with him in Caddyshack, and directed him in Groundhog Day.

Miscellany: Why Glenn Close for the death montage (more politely, the 'In Memoriam' segment)? I'm not a huge fan of Bette Midler, either, but her performance, and the song, was a nice touch...The show was just over three-and-a-half hours long, but if you think about it, that's shorter than a typical Yankees-Red Sox game, so no need to complain...With the possible exception of Billy Crystal, you really don't need to have the same host every year, but I hope it's less than seven years before Degeneres gets to host again.

On a weird and personal note: Sunday was a strange day for me. I did enjoy the Oscars, and earlier in the day listened to a Dodgers spring training game, but I was haunted by the calendar. I actually didn't think this day would come, and there were many times where I did not want it to. I'm still not excited about it, but here it is. I have outlived my father. As of March 2 (yesterday), I am now older than my father was when he died. My father was a much better man than I am, and I don't deserve to be on this Earth longer than he was.

More weirdness: Again, maybe too much information here. I wouldn't call them dreams exactly, but I commonly used to have thoughts or visions, of my dad being back with me. Kind of like he was coming home from work like it was a normal day, even though he had been gone for years. I still have those thoughts from time to time, but they were pretty common when I was younger. Yesterday, because of what I just described in the paragraph above, it really freaked me out when, during the Oscars, ABC ran those promos for their new show Resurrection.

Mom update: It sounds like she is ready to come home, but some improvements need to be made at the house. A new bed, and a grab bar in the shower, and some part time in-home care. Shouldn't be too much longer now.

View All Commentaries