The 86th Academy Awards: Best And Worst, Winners And Losers, Blah Blah Blah

Here in media-land, we tend to spend the Monday after the Oscars talking about the Oscars. The dresses, the speeches, the winners, the losers, who killed and who bombed. This phenomenon makes sense from an SEO standpoint, but after spending four or five hours of my life watching all the pageantry, spontaneity, and attempts at fake spontaneity, I’m mostly just glad it’s over. And thus confused that anyone wants to talk about it more. I suspect most Oscar recaps/reviews are written in a fog of malaise, with too-much coffee moving everyone’s lips like a puppeteer. With all that said, HERE ARE THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED. HERE ARE THE THOUGHTS ABOUT THOSE THINGS.

Ellen hosted, and did a perfectly adequate job. Her selfie and ordering pizza bits were predictably faux-folksy, but she had a solid monolog, and even got away with a joke about Liza Minelli being played by a male impersonator that probably no one else would have. Edgy Ellen, whaaa? The rest of the show was a bit of a mess, with actors butchering badly-written introductory speeches, and pointless montages that seemed to be dedicated to everything and nothing all at once. Fast and the Furious cut with Zorro and Jaws? Sure, why not. Those are movies. The whole thing seemed like it was missing that Vilanch touch. And for the love of God, next time someone writes an intro about the “triumph of the human spirit” please shoot them into the moon with a dildo cannon.

But hey, it’s the Oscars, it’s supposed to be bloated, confusing, and schmaltzy.

Best Moment: Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech. Every year, at least one person gives a speech that feels genuinely heartfelt, and because many of those people are actors, their emotions are so close to the surface (a physiological condition afflicting actors) we feel like we’re actually up there with them, winning this award and having our entire existence validated with a single statue. That’s what it was like watching Lupita Nyong’o’s speech. It’s possible I was just drunk by that point, but this one made me all tingly. She even thanked the editor of the movie! Talk about class. She went way long, and you could practically hear a producer somewhere telling an underling “touch that musical cue and you’ll be wearing your ass for a hat, Hoss.” It was the right decision.

Not the right decision? Playing her off with a chocolate factory song. Uh… guys? What the hell was that?

Neither here nor there, but did you know Lupita Nyong’o is 31? I would’ve guessed she was like 17.

Worst Moment: Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” following the In Memoriam montage. Couldn’t we at least have had her sing it during the montage and saved some time? Bette Midler looked great, and hey, she’s Bette Midler, but that is one of the all-time worst songs ever written, and they played it in its original form, complete with God-awful eighties synth keyboard and self-satisfied facial expressions. What a weird, old lady shawl of a song. “Wind Beneath My Wings” will be on a loop with “My Heart Will Go On” and “Candle In the Wind” in my own personal hell someday, so can we just try to forget it exists until then? This knocked Bono out of this spot, and I despise Bono. Bono could rescue my mother from a burning building and I’d still want to kick him in the stomach.

Memorable Acceptance Speeches:
Matthew McConaughey obviously won the FilmDrunk drinking game by 1. Thanking God (chug your drink) 2. Delivering the line “alright alright alright” (take your shirt off, then chug your drink) 3. All during a Jennifer Lawrence Lightning Round (aka the J-Law Li-Ro – which doubled the drinks and added pants to the shirt removal). It almost makes me wonder if he knew about our drinking game. Of course, it could just be that we have a deep understanding of Matthew McConaughey ’round these parts. By the way, everyone knows this award was just a bullshit make-up award for him getting snubbed for Supporting Actor and Best Original Song for Magic Mike, which we all know he won in spirit (stick it).

[Speech here, if the embed disappears]

That said, Matty McC managed to thank God, his family, and himself in his acceptance speech without saying anything about people with AIDs or the gay and transgender community the movie depicts. Much as I love me some McConaughey, that’s a completely valid criticism. But he was such a sweetheart when he was presenting with seemingly drunk and confused Kim Novak earlier in the evening that it’s hard for me to hold it against him. That he’s so insanely comfortable with himself seems to be McConaughey’s greatest strength, but can also make him seem like a bit of a blowhard every once in a while, like with the I-am-my-own-hero stuff. But Guy Fieri congratulated him afterwards, so he’s got that going for him.

Jared Leto had both the best and worst acceptance speech of the night. The best, when he was telling the story of his single mother who, against all odds, managed to raise a future Oscar winner (mostly thanks to incredible bone structure). And the worst, when he started in with “this one’s for all the dreamers out there,” and managed to name check his band, Ukraine, and Venezuela in the same speech. Hey, as long as a cis-gendered hetero male is being recognized for telling the story of a trans person, he might as well try to become a representative for all oppressed people everywhere, right? If not this super handsome model/rockstar representing you, who?? I’m actually thankful for this portion of Jared Leto’s speech, because for a minute there, I was worried I was going to have to start liking Jared Leto. “Oscar winner Jared Leto.” I recognize that he did a decent job in that movie, but that sentence still feels like gargling thumb tacks. I’m glad he got cut out of the selfie, he wasn’t invited in the first place.

Catherine Martin, who won best costume design (and later production design) started out by saying “I’ve got some words in me brawr” which I found delightfully Australian. “Me brawr’s where Oy noamally keep tissues. Oy’ve also got a knoife in me gahtah belt in case a snaike troys ta suproyze me on the dunny. Anyway, cheahs, ya cunts.”

Strangest Acceptance Speech:
It was probably residual anger from Act of Killing not winning best documentary, despite being probably the most important movie of the last ten years, but 20 Feet From Stardom‘s Darlene Love belting out “I sing because I’m happy” just made me think how being a great singer means you can act totally crazy and people will just smile and clap. “Haha, what’s she singing about??!” “I dunno, Jesus or something? Isn’t she great?”

Best Presenters:
Jim Carrey. Hey, remember when Jim Carrey was one of the best impressionists that ever lived and not a guy who stars in movies with CGI penguins? I remembered it last night, when Carrey was riffing with Bruce Dern. He crushed it.

Jamie Foxx. I don’t think he told Jessica Biel that he was going to ad-lib that much, but anything even remotely off-the-cuff is always appreciated.

Bill Murray – speaking of off-the-cuff, I’m legally required to mention Bill Murray’s Harold Ramis tribute here. Maybe not as wacky as you’d expect from Bill Murray, but typically well-timed and likable.

Worst Presenters:
John Travolta. It’s possible we may some day find out that his epic mispronunciation of Idina Menzel as “Adele Dazeem” was the result of some Ray Finkel-esque teleprompter sabotage, but until then, feel free to focus on what a screw up this was. COME ON, MAN! YOU HAD ONE JOB!

Of course, John Travolta reportedly suffers from dyslexia, so expect to read lots of articles about why you’re an asshole for laughing at him in the coming days. I just consider it yet another affliction that Scientology has failed to cure.

Harrison Ford. They played Harrison Ford onstage with the Indiana Jones theme and I think that pissed him off, because he spent the next few minutes reading his prescribed intro with all the enthusiasm of an Al Qaeda hostage. Nothing I say will beat this Tweet on the subject:

Anne Hathaway. There were other presenters later in the night who suffered from this problem, but Anne Hathaway was the first presenter to regrettably overcommit to her hokey awards intro. Everyone knows these intros are schmaltzy horseshit written entirely in CD jacket-copy-ese, so you don’t want to sell them. Read it with a wink and a wry smile, like Bill Murray, so we know that you know that it’s bullshit. Otherwise we wonder if you actually believe that supporting actors are “unsung heroes” or some such.

Honorable Mention:
Kim Novak. I don’t know if she was drunk or confused or what, but there was never a dull moment watching her up there. Matthew McConaughey was so sweet to her that you wanted to give him a hug (no matter how stinky and sweaty he probably is), and Novak was so charmingly unpredictable that I’d watch her riff with Hoda and Kathy Lee any morning. Kim Novak for next year’s Oscar host! 

Anyway, until next year, folks. Thank God.