Worth Staying Up For: Ellen and the Endless Oscars

 

The McMahon family has a long-standing tradition of duking it out for Oscar-predictions supremacy, with a tradition nearly as long of yours truly taking home the grand prize (small amounts of food or money). I will try not to gloat too much, but let it be known that this year marked one of the widest margins of victory in recent memory. To be fair, I did mess up a couple. If you look back at my picks, you will see if I had stuck with my “Who Should Win” thoughts, I would have been perfect. Alas, my overthinking got the best of me.

Moving to the show itself, this morning has brought an interesting mix of adoration for Ellen’s antics and complaints of the show’s long (LONG), plodding nature. Personally, I loved the show and felt there were many moments to remember. From the outset, Ellen showed she would not back down from anyone, bouncing from Jared Leto to Meryl Streep to Jennifer Lawrence without missing a beat (here’s the full monologue). Joking about everything from The Hunger Games to Jonah Hill strutting his stuff in The Wolf of Wall Street — “you showed me something I haven’t seen in a very long time” — Ellen quickly let it be known that these beautiful people would be treated as human beings. And they were. And it was AWESOME.

 

Nicholas Hoult (right); National Treasure (left)

I won’t gush about too many aspects of the show, but let’s start with the songs. I thought U2 was solid, and “The Moon Song” does have a quirky beauty, but Pharrell and Idina Menzel knocked it out of the park. It’s not every year that Best Song nominees enter the mainstream so well, but “Happy” and “Let It Go” have both achieved substantial levels of ubiquity. Continuing Ellen’s theme of humanizing the pretty people, Pharrell got budding superstar Lupita Nyong’o dancing and then got Meryl Streep to SHAKE IT. I’ll forgive him for stealing that Sorting Hat again, as his performance kept the good vibes flowing early in the night. As the last performance and presumptive winner, “Let It Go” was anxiously awaited by my viewing party. Suffice to say, Idina KILLED IT. If there were any voters who didn’t pick the Frozen hit, I’m pretty sure they rushed backstage and changed their ballots. I can’t pretend to have any expertise in the art of singing, but if anyone else sang as hard as Menzel did in the last 40 seconds of that performance, their head or throat would most likely explode.

Another nomination had Meryl in the mood for dance.

I know at this point pretty much everyone has seen “The Selfie,” so I won’t go on and on, but how great was that moment?! Everyone has their favorites and least favorites in Hollywood, but this picture had something for anyone who even pretends to like movies. With varying degrees of shock and joy on their faces, the actors have 10 acting Oscars between them, and 11 overall if we count Pitt’s Best Picture victory for 12 Years a Slave later in the night. You might hate Julia Roberts, but you love Jennifer Lawrence. You’re over Brad Pitt, but Bradley Cooper is growing on you. Meryl Streep is getting tiresome, but Kevin Spacey is suddenly the coolest man in Hollywood. That last part might actually be true, by the way. I was honestly confused and scared when Frank Underwood started talking like Kevin Spacey. No matter what your feelings about certain celebrities, the record-breaking selfie had something for you.

Quietly, ruthlessly cementing his place among the coolest people in Hollywood.

Beside all the debauchery Ellen encouraged, there were some beautiful onstage moments, with some of the night’s favorites clearly prepared for the moment in the spotlight. Jared Leto started the night off with a heavy but heartfelt speech, and worried the audience around me that Ukraine and Venezuela would play prominently into winners’ speeches (Maybe they should have…who knows? You’re asking the wrong blog.). Later, Lupita Nyong’o spoke passionately, filled with emotion, remarking that “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.” She was overjoyed and humbled and incredibly well-spoken, hoping that her story and triumph would remind all children that their “dreams are valid.” She has impressed just about everyone during her awards circuit romp, and last night showed the rest of us why. Finally, Matthew McConaughey entered the night as a big Best Actor favorite, and his speech reflected his preparation, his long wait for an honor like this. Say what you will about his “My hero is me in ten years” bit (I loved it); nevertheless, McConaughey gave a perfect blend of modesty, reverance, and “Awright, Awright, Awright.” These three favorites did not give us the intolerable Meryl Streep disbelief, instead balancing their joy with well-crafted, evocative words.

He waited a long time for his moment, and spoke accordingly.

There were not many surprises throughout the night, with many of the races essentially conceded beforehand, but Ellen and her willing famous friends provided an air of fun within the stuffy theatre, and the winners reflected a fascinating balance of newcomers and comeback stories, and there was even an EGOT! The show ran forever and ever, but I didn’t mind. The Heroes of Hollywood pieces were wonderful, and Ellen’s antics augmented the otherwise predictable agenda. She reminded us early on that movies provide us with an escape as the world crashes down around us, and she let her show do the same.

The show ran long, but happiness stayed up all night.

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About Author: gwwadmin

Why so serious?

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