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A Brief Overview of the 86th Academy Awards

Posted by Kenneth Shinozuka on March 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM


Here is a brief overview of the 86th Academy Awards that I wrote a few weeks ago. Sorry that I'm uploading it rather late! Also, I'd like to note/brag that I predicted 20 of the winners correctly out of a total of 21 categories.

After Seth MacFarlane’s hosting last year drew criticism for its racy musical numbers and innuendo-filled comedy, the producers of the Academy Awards decided to play it much safer this year.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted a ceremony that lagged significantly in pacing after her humorous but rather unexciting opening monologue. At the beginning of the show, the daytime talk show host employed her comedic talents to make witty jokes at the expense of some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, telling Liza Minelli she looked like a man and jabbing at celebrities for their lack of college education. But DeGeneres’ humor grew flat as the night went on. An overly long sequence in which she ordered delivery pizza for the nominees was a humorless and unentertaining attempt to spice the show up in between the presentations of the awards.

The awards primarily went to those who were expected to win. Gravity swept the technical categories of the ceremony (beating Captain Phillips in a close race for Best Film Editing) and in total won seven awards, more than any other nominated film. Nonetheless, it failed to win Best Picture, losing out to 12 Years a Slave in one of the most competitive races in recent Oscar history. Both films deserved to win in the category, but the historical significance of 12 Years a Slave’s message about the horrors of slavery gave it a slight advantage. (Lupita Nyong’o also won for her harrowing performance as a slave exposed to the worst horrors of the institution to which she is chained.) The eye-popping exterior of Gravity may have led some voters to perceive it solely as a visual achievement, thus causing them to ignore the film’s substantive themes about the indomitable perseverance of man. Nonetheless, Gravity’s ability to conjure the nuanced realities and frightening emptiness of outer space, a place that does not really exist outside of our imagination, was rewarded in the Best Director category.

After gaining significant momentum in the pre-Oscars award season, Dallas Buyers Club emerged with three Oscars. Matthew McConaughey won a Best Actor Oscar for his confident portrayal of a cowboy who discards his homophobic views and strengthens his own will to live after being diagnosed with AIDS. The film was awarded again for Jared Leto’s supporting performance as a transsexual coping with both AIDS and the social stigmas associated with the disease and his sexuality.

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