March 3, 2014


This year’s Oscars was an out and out entertainment extravaganza, but not without heartwarming speeches and moving tributes. Here’s a look at the 86th edition of the biggest night in Hollywood

To See all the results of the 86th Oscars, click here.

Photo Courtesy: AMPAS 

ELLEN DEGENERES was the best thing that happened to the Oscars this year. Her bringing the show into the crowd was a simple, yet genius idea. From outrageously hilarious moments like ordering pizza (and then collecting cash for it, in Pharrell’s hat) to sitting in Zac Efron’s seat to say that he was the next presenter, Ellen knocked it out of the park this year. There were moments when we were laughing simply at the ridiculousness of what was going on, but it was inclusive, with so many of the big names in the front few rows participating in the mirth, so it didn’t matter. Not many can work a crowd like Ellen can. 

The selfie that Ellen made Bradley Cooper take, which has gone down as the most retweeted photo ever

Her selfie moment with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Channing Tatum, Lupita Nyong’o, Jared Leto, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita’s brother and the photographer Bradley Cooper was priceless. History was made, as Twitter was out of service for a bit after the photo was retweeted a record number of times (the current count is over 1.1 million retweets). Even Ellen’s jibes and ribbing were tasteful and innocent, but still received roars of laughter, even from us watching at home. I especially enjoyed how she made fun of Jennifer Lawrence having a fall again this year, following her trip while climbing up the stairs last year to accept her Oscar.JLaw took it very sportingly, and then the best part: Ellen tells Jennifer that if she wins the Oscar this year, they should bring it to her and not make her climb up to the stage. Priceless!

Presenters Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron
Bringing the entertainment and humor to the crowd was not just Ellen’s doing. Even Pharrell Williams’ performance of the Oscar-nominated song ‘Happy’, early in the show, brought Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams to their feet as they danced along. And that was not all. The organizers seem to have kept in mind that the Oscars have been losing viewers, because of how the Oscar-nominated movies don’t always appeal to the moviegoers. This is probably why the tributes this year were those made to movies that the moviegoers love, including animation films, superhero movies and other blockbuster types. PRESENTERS also kept things fresh and entertaining. With moments such as Jim Carrey’s animated tribute to animation and Jamie Foxx’s background score to Jessica Biel presenting the Oscar for Best Original Score, there was hardly a boring moment during the entire show. Among other FUNNY MOMENTS not orchestrated by Ellen was Kevin Spacey briefly getting into character as Frank Underwood from HOUSE OF CARDS. There were other unintentionally funny moments also, like John Travolta’s ridiculous mispronunciation of Idina Menzel’s name, calling her ‘Adele Dazim’, and Charlize Theron (who was best dressed, according to me) not realizing it was her turn to speak, when presenting with Chris Hemsworth.

Pharrell Williams performing 'Happy' from Despicable Me 2

I thought that even the PERFORMANCES added value to the show, especially those by Pharrell, Pink, Idina Menzel and Bette Midler. Nothing seemed to be overdone. The 'In Memoriam' segment didn’t draw out too long and even the presentations of the Best Picture nominees were done in sets of three, avoiding nine presentations and clips.

(Left-Right) Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto

Steve McQueen making his speech while 
accepting the Best Picture Oscar for 12 Years A Slave
The AWARDS were paced out well, with a good mix of less popular categories with the big film categories throughout the show. Most of the results weren’t all that hard to predict, with Gravity winning almost in all the expected categories. So much so, most people seemed to have been expecting it to win Best Picture also, but 12 Years A Slave took away the top prize, much to the delight of Brad Pitt and his entire 12 Years… team. The film won three Oscars, as did Dallas Buyers Club, the pride of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. All the acting results—McConaughey, Leto, Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)were predictable, but extremely deserving. It was good to see that The Great Gatsby won where it deserved to. Unfortunately American Hustle didn’t win anything, but the competition was pretty stiff. Frozen, Her and Blue Jasmine were the other big winners of the evening.

Jared Leto making his speech while accepting the 
Supporting Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club

Most of the ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES were quite endearing and funny. I loved Lupita Nyong’o’s, because of how she started, saying that it didn’t escape her how so much joy in her life was due to so much pain in someone else’s. Jared Leto talking about his mother, with such admiration for her story, and then dedicating his statuette to the people who lost the battle to AIDS and faced injustice for who they are and who they love, was pure gold. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s recital of their speech (on winning Best Original Song for Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’) was funny and touching, with the closing message to their daughters.

Alfonso Cuarón making his speech while accepting the Best Direction Oscar for Gravity

With moments to remember from all aspects of the show, and hardly any boring moments that I can point out, I would say that the Oscars were quite a success this year. The largely satisfactory results also made it good for me.

What are your thoughts on how things went down at the Oscars this year? Did the show live up to expectations?

March 2, 2014


A quick look at the Oscar nominees this year, and what I think will happen with them Oscar night…

Picture: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street
Direction: David O Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity; Alexander Payne, Nebraska;
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

These last few years, it seems like there’s always a movie that’s a technical marvel, among the Oscar nominated films. Last year, it was Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, the year before that, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, and this year, it’s Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. However, while the latter two were acknowledged to quite a large extent for their brilliance, with Ang Lee also winning Best Direction last year, this year, I feel that Gravity is going to get much more than that. It’s safe to say that Cuarón will walk away with an Oscar for direction, but I also feel that Gravity will be named Best Picture this year. The closest frontrunner, 12 Years A Slave was a really moving film, but while it was well made and had some stellar performances, it wasn’t something we haven’t seen before. If it does win, it’ll probably be because of the Academy’s love for biopics and dramatic retellings of true stories. The other frontrunner, American Hustle has lost momentum in the race for the Oscars, since its Best Picture, Comedy at the Golden Globes in January. All said and done, this year, the frontrunners can’t compare with last year’s films, especially Argo, Lincoln and Les Misérables, so the result will not be as satisfactory in any case. I personally think that the smaller films, like Dallas Buyers Club are more deserving of the top prize, but we all know that that’s not going to happen. I think it will be Gravity this year.

Leading Actor: 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
Leading Actress: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Supporting Actor: 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
Supporting Actress: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska

Last year, the race for Leading Actress was quite uncertain, with Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence vying for the prize as frontrunners. This year, it seems quite obvious that it will be Cate Blanchett. Her performance in Blue Jasmine may have been too subtle in parts, but she nailed the messed up character in a way that even in Jasmine’s seemingly normal moments, you still know the underlying insecurities and anxiety that caused her nervous breakdown.
In the race for lead actor, again, the result is quite predictable. While they’re almost all worthy performances, especially Leonardo DiCaprio’s, the one that stands out the most is Matthew McConaughey’s. He’s winning this one for sure. His costar would be another extremely deserving winner. Jared Leto nailed the part of Rayon. What initially didn’t seem like a jaw-dropping portrayal of a transvestite turned into so much more, as the character’s layers were stripped and we saw Rayon coming to life.
Supporting Actress is the only acting category that isn’t predictable this year. While the strongest contender is Lupita Nyong’o—who I think will win, even if it’s just for her blood-curdling screams in 12 Years A Slave—we could just as well see Jennifer Lawrence taking home the gold for a second consecutive year. Lawrence was excellent in American Hustle, but then so was Julia Roberts, who I personally believe should be a frontrunner. However, I really think it should and will be Nyong’o.

Original: Before Midnight, Captain Philips, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street
Adapted: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

At least one of the writing categories often ends up being a consolation prize to a film that’s a frontrunner, but won’t quite make Best Picture. This year, if Gravity does end up winning the big prize, there will be two consolation prizes. 12 Years A Slave will win Original Screenplay. While I think Blue Jasmine deserves the second award, it’s most likely going to be Her winning Adapted Screenplay.

If Gravity doesn’t win Best Picture, it will at least sweep up a slew of other technical awards. Sound Editing and Mixing just being two of them.

Gravity will in Cinematography, Visual Effects, and possibly even Film Editing. However, in the latter, it could just as easily be 12 Years A Slave or even American Hustle.

I would give Costume Design to The Great Gatsby, but I think American Hustle will win. I believe Production Design should also go to The Great Gatsby, but Gravity will win. Dallas Buyers Club will win for Make-up and Hairstyling.

Who are your picks for this year’s Oscar winners? Do you think Gravity will in fact win Best Picture, or will it be 12 Years A Slave?