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Oscars 2014, The

Well, here we are again, falling to our knees in observance of the Oscars, that annual back-slap-athon where Hollywood’s mightiest (and occasionally humblest) come together to give their finest performances, particularly if they’re nominated but don’t win – the cameras are watching!  Here then are the winners (and losers), my views on the ceremony, Ellen DeGeneres as host, the jokes, the acceptance speeches, and who got those all-important statuettes… and whether they deserved them.  All this, and in a fraction of the time it takes to stage the whole show.  Winners in bold.

The show got off to a good start with Ellen DeGeneres wisecracking through a great opening monologue, taking the mickey out of Jennifer Lawrence’s trip from last year, June Squibb’s age, actors as college alumni (apparently Amy Adams didn’t go) and congratulating the guy impersonating Liza Minnelli.  The theme of the night was Movie Heroes and there were … montages shown throughout the show, as well as Bette Midler singing The Wind Beneath My Wings as a follow-on to the In Memoriam segment.  Ellen also set up a great running gag involving ordering in pizza (which for once, didn’t seem like it had been rehearsed).  But she also stumbled over her words a lot, and seemed distracted; a couple of times she wasn’t even ready to camera (let’s get the Bring Back Billy Crystal campaign going now!).

There was a tribute to The Wizard of Oz sung by Pink that was as effective as it was unexpected, the usual live performances of songs nominated for Best Original Song, and fortunately, no embarrassing moments where speeches too far over while someone thanked their auntie, their budgie and/or God (that was left to one of the winners).  Over all, it was an entertaining show but it still couldn’t avoid some of the usual pitfalls – the length, the awkwardness of certain presenters, wheeling out someone on their last legs (this year, Sidney Poitier), and clips that showed several actors shouting at each other as if that’s a sign of good acting.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

The right choice, but the longest, most excited speech of the night by Steve McQueen, and then he started jumping about!  Presented by Will Smith.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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

No problems here except for McConaughey’s rambling, though emotional speech.  Presented by Jennifer Lawrence.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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

A superb performance given its rightful due properly rewarded and with a pro-women stance in her speech from Blanchett.  Presented by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Leto made a really good speech thanking his mother in particular and made reference to the troubles in Ukraine and Venezuela; a good start to the evening, and a well-deserved award.  Presented by Anne Hathaway.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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

A standing ovation for Nyong’o tops an amazing year for the actress, and her emotional speech was a highlight.  Presented by Christoph Waltz.

Best Achievement in Directing

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

Absolutely the right result and confirmation (as if it was needed) of the effort and work Cuarón put into making Gravity.  Presented by Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poitier.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

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

A popular choice and a bit of a surprise, but it could have gone to any of the nominees.  Presented by Robert De Niro and Penelope Cruz.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope (Philomena), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Spot-on and an easy choice though, noticeably, no mention for Steve McQueen in Ridley’s acceptance speech.  Presented by Robert De Niro and Penelope Cruz.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Célestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Wow, another big surprise – not!  Still, a great result though it would have been nice to see Ernest & Célestine win the Oscar.  Notable for Disney’s first win in this category, and strangely, just when there wasn’t a Pixar movie in the running.  Presented by Kim Novak and Matthew McConaughey.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

A great win for a great movie, and one of the easiest awards of the evening to predict.  Presented by Ewan McGregor and Viola Davis.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Roger Deakins (Prisoners), Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis), Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster), Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity), Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

Predictable win but should have gone to Phedon Papamichael; the first big disappointment (for me) of the evening.  Presented by Amy Adams and Bill Murray.

Best Achievement in Editing

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

Let the Gravity backlash continue!  Captain Phillips was by far the better edited movie nominated and should have won hands down.  Presented by Anna Kendrick and Gabey Sidoureh.

Best Achievement in Production Design

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

Awarded after the award for Costume Design (see below) and a well-deserved double for Catherine Martin.  Presented by Jennifer Garner and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

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

Unsurprising win for Mrs Luhrmann. Presented by Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua Casny (The Lone Ranger), Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews (Dallas Buyers Club), Steve Prouty (Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa)

Again, an unsurprising win; it almost seemed as if the other two movies were there just so there could be a list.  Presented by Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

William Butler, Andy Koyama (Her), Alexandre Desplat (Philomena), Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks), Steven Price (Gravity), John Williams (The Book Thief)

A good result for a Brit, but not so sure that either Desplat or Newman shouldn’t have won instead.  Presented by Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez – Let It Go (Frozen), Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr, Brian Burton – Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Karen O – The Moon Song (Her), Pharrell Williams – Happy (Despicable Me 2)

Fun acceptance speech and one of the best of the night but it should have been given to The Moon Song – at this stage both Frozen and The Great Gatsby had won more awards than 12 Years a Slave.  Presented by Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

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

Again, not much of a surprise, but should really have gone to Captain Phillips.  Presented by Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns (All Is Lost), Brent Burge (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), Glenn Freemantle (Gravity), Wylie Stateman (Lone Survivor), Oliver Tarney (Captain Phillips)

See above.  Presented by Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.

Best Achievement in Special Effects

Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier (The Lone Ranger), Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossman, Burt Dalton (Star Trek: Into Darkness), Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Daniel Sudick (Iron Man 3), Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould (Gravity)

If Gravity hadn’t won then there should have been a steward’s enquiry; well-deserved and absolutely the one undeniable shoo-in of the ceremony.  Presented by Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Best Documentary, Feature

The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet from Stardom

First real surprise of the night given that everyone pretty much expected The Act of Killing to win, and a chance to hear the amazing Darlene Love in full voice.  Presented by Bradley Cooper.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Cavedigger, Facing Fear, Karama Has No Walls, The Lady in No 6, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

A moving piece and well-deserved, and a tribute to Alice Sommer-Herz who sadly died a week ago.  Presented by Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis.

Best Short Film, Animated

Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr Hublot, Possessions, Room on the Broom

A great win for this French movie, and much deserved, in what was a very close category.  Presented by Kim Novak and Matthew McConaughey.

Best Short Film, Live Action

Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, Helium, Just Before Losing Everything, That Wasn’t Me, The Voorman Problem

A great result and proof that the Academy gets it right pretty much every time in the “minor” short film categories.  Presented by Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis.