Wednesday, March 05, 2014


In case anyone's interested, a few thoughts about this year's Oscars awards ceremony televised on Sunday evening. We're longtime film fans, totally non-sporty, so such ceremonies have become our alternative to Superbowl and suchlike. We sat through the three and a half hours, muting the TV during ads, most of which were for Cadillacs which hardly anyone watching at home would be able to afford.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the event in her casual, straight-faced mildly sarky style, which went down fairly well. Ellen's idea to order pizza, bringin' the assembled multi-millionaires down to earth, fell kind of flat. It was an iffy thing to try really with everyone and their dogs on strict diets. I bet there were numerous pizza slices found under seats when the janitors did their thing later.

The only sour note, I felt, was Ellen's mean and ageist remark, and attitude - meant to be a joke - towards the 83 year old actress June Squibb who was nominated for her supporting role in Nebraska. If Ellen had done something similarly stereotypically non-funny to an African American or gay person she'd have been booed off the stage...but she assumes she's safe enough joking about age. I've noticed she's being criticised for a "joking" remark she made to Liza Minnelli, but about the "joke" at June Squibb's expense, not so much.

We haven't yet seen the movie which took the Best Picture award Twelve Years a Slave. One of the film's cast, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film is still in the top price range at our video rental store, so we shall wait a while until it slides over to the cheaper shelves. We haven't seen either Nebraska or Dallas Buyer's Club yet for the same reason. The latter movie's two leads won best supporting actor and best actor: Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey respectively. Jared Leto's speech was one of the best, I thought. He gave a shout out to those under stress in Ukraine and Venezuela, the only one who did, far as I recall. His colleague Matt McConaughey's speech was a rambling mess, but he meant well.

Amazingly this year, we had actually seen some of the nominated movies. We saw Gravity (wrote a paragraph about it here). It deserved the seven awards it received, including best visual effects, cinematography and original score. I was surprised not to see George Clooney in the audience, or presenting awards. His name wasn't mentioned in connection with Gravity until near the end of the ceremony when it was rapidly reeled off among a list of thank yous.

We saw Blue Jasmine (wrote about it here), and thank goodness the recent hoo-haa about Woody Allen, the film's director, did not impinge upon Cate Blanchett's being awarded the Best Actress Oscar for her stunning performance in the film. She did not shy away from thanking Woody Allen either, that was good to see.

We saw August: Osage County, some weeks ago. The film itself didn't seem like Oscar material to us, but leading characters received nominations: Julia Roberts for best supporting actress and Meryl Streep for best actress. The two ladies did give fine performances.

Just a sidelight - I noticed quite a few English accents from those collecting awards. That's nice, I thought, giving 'em a run for their money at their own game. (winks).


mike said...

The Oscars, Hollywood, and rich, pampered Neptune can anything get? I liked the comments regarding Sandra Bullock's $70+ million take for "Gravity", to which real astronauts earn about 0.2% that amount. I only view the movies that are shown on network TV, which are far and few, and I just saw "Up", which I enjoyed immensely (ABC was competing with NBC's Olympics coverage). We are in an era where movies tend to provide the primary source of social (eg, "Dallas Buyer's Club") and historical (eg, "12 Years a Slave") discourse, as book reading is in a severe decline.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - I've never been a fan of Ellen DeGeneres, but I doubt she cares...LOL...she's relatively innocuous, though...I've heard far more offensive "jokes" from other comedic hosts. I like Seth McFarlane, but he left a trail of peculiarities when MCing the Oscars.

Twilight said...

mike ~ (Your comments alerted me to the fact that I'd mis-spelled Ellen's surname - thanks!) :-)

Yes, movies (and TV) have taken over from books as a more likely topic for general conversation, and source for extending knowledge or perking interest. Even in the past, though, when book reading was more of a main pastime, it was less likely we'd come across someone who had read books we'd read ourselves, so's to chat about them. It's far more likely, now, to find some common knowledge and interests about films and shows.

I remember "Up" nice film - husband loved it.

I liked Ellen's earlier stuff, her stand-up routines; we have DVDs of some episodes of her sitcom "Ellen" from the 1990s, that was enjoyable too.
Of late, though, she seems to have become rather more hard-faced, not as likeable as she used to be. I've never watched her afternoon talk show - maybe that has brought about the change. We don't do daytime TV, unless it's to check on tornado warnings or other emergencies.

Oddly enough I wasn't offended by Seth McFarlane's jokes at the Oscars last year. His now infamous "we've seen your boobs" song seemed highly appropriate to me, given the ultra-low-cut gowns and everyday outfits most female celebs love to wear. He can be highly offensive in other situations though. I stopped watching his "Family Guy" long ago, and hated his film "Ted".
But, on the other hand, he's a good singer. I have his CD of American standards and it is one of my favourites. :-/

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

first let me say, I listen to McFarlane's "Boob Song" at least once a week and still laugh till I cry.
I saw Dallas Buyers club and it was ok.. wouldnt watch it again.
I really want to see "HER" thats a idea that entralls me.
I watch the award show every year and always enjoy it.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ LOL! Good for you!

I imagine "Dallas Buyers Club" will be a bit depressing, from the little I know about it - somebody's going to end up dead I think. :-( We shall see it though.

I'd forgotten about "Her", yes I'd like to see that - sounds like an oddball plot, one that Ray Kurzweil (mentioned in the post of 26 February) would appreciate. :-)

I'm not as keen to see "American Hustle", though it has received much praise, and it'd be interesting to discover how Jennifer Lawrence plays her part - big change from "Hunger Games".

LB said...

Twilight ~ I didn't watch The Oscars but I did think about all that food, especially those miniature chocolate awards Wolfgang Puck says people love to bring home to their children - I had to wonder if he used chocolate harvested by child-slaves. Which is ironic considering the popularity of "12 Years A Slave".

I was a little encouraged to find this article on The Huffington Post, "12 Years A Slave Got You Thinking? Now Boycott Chocolate Harvested By Child Slaves":, but not so encouraged by the lone comment left in response to it, especially when compared to the 248 comments left after another article about this same movie.

It's not just about chocolate - most likely a lot of the materials used to put together The Oscars came about through various forms of slavery. According to the article, there are 30 million enslaved people worldwide.

Celebrations like The Oscars seem hollow to me - another missed opportunity in a long string of missed opportunities to walk the talk. There are so many missed opportunities for celebrities to speak out about the specific ways we can make a difference.

Or maybe I'm wrong - *did* anyone talk about it at the awards?

Twilight said...

LB ~ The director of "12 Years a Slave", Steve McQueen said this as part of his acceptance speech:

"Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live," the British director McQueen said in accepting the best picture award at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. "This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery.",0,517369.story#ixzz2v9xkRKX6

He also, right at the end of his speech, if I recall correctly, said it is also to remember the
.....millions who are still enslaved around the world.

That was the only mention, I think.

The whole thing is spectacle, and pretty darn wasteful if you get right down to it - but it has become a tradition, and absent some national calamity it'll continue, I suppose, and we'll no doubt be watching, just because we can.