86th Oscars Make History, Mark Push for Justice

Tonight’s awards for excellence in film has gone by several different names over the years, and its famed golden statuettes have transformed with them, as well. But no matter the movies that were recognized or just how “subjective and random” they are, like Best Leading Actress winner Cate Blanchett said, the 86th Academy Awards ceremony was an experience to watch.

First, please join me in thanking God for creating Ellen DeGeneres, the hostess of this year’s awards. She roasted Hollywood’s favorites, handed out lotto tickets to Bradley Cooper, and took this year’s most important selfie to commemorate Meryl Streep’s 18th Oscar nomination with a few other stars (which forced Twitter to crash). Her comic genius and satirical pitchfork brought laughter to everyone in the Dolby Theatre and to millions of viewers watching from home. The hostess also ordered pizza and served it on paper plates. Making everyone feel at home?

The most important selfie of the year. Courtesy: Ellen.
The most important selfie of the year. Courtesy: Ellen.

While there were few, if any, shockers of the night, the biggest surprise was perhaps the social justice push by the night’s winners. Jared Leto, who won Best Supporting Actor for his (somewhat problematic) role in Dallas Buyers Club, gave a shout-out to Venezuela and Ukraine, and the Makeup and Hairstyling Designers from the same movie spoke out about AIDS in ‘85. Ellen also played her part when she slipped in a small swipe at the Oscars during her opener: “Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two, you’re all racists.” Give Ellen a bit of credit for toeing the line of social justice warrior with panache and class. (Spoiler: it won Best Picture).

Tonight’s biggest and most deserved win went to Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave for Best Supporting Actress, making her the seventh black woman to win an Oscar in its history. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Kenyan actress’s full-bodied, courageous, and tear-evoking performance as Patsey would win. On the awards trail, Lupita stole critics’ and audiences’ hearts alike with her iconic block print style and sincerity. Her acceptance speech, both modest and inspirational, reminds us that there are actually good people in Hollywood. With her outcry of “Yes!” the star received a most well deserved standing ovation.

Like a true winner, Lupita said that her Oscar should, “…remind me and every little child, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Gravity, the night’s big winner starring Sandra Bullock, took home 7 Oscars including Best Direction for Alfonso Cuarón, who became the first Latino director to win the award in the Oscars’ 86-year history.

Frozen, the Disney movie that swept the nation, was a favorite to win Best Animated Feature and Best Song for “Let It Go” as performed by the illustrious Idina Menzel. While the Broadway star disappointed with her performance (whether the fault was her nerves, the song’s arrangement, or John Travolta’s horrendous introduction is unclear), the Disney film took home both, and made an EGOT winner out of composer, Robert Lopez.

As some predicted, Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar Best Leading Actor for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club over favorites Leonardo DiCaprio for Wolf of Wall Street and Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. The star rambled on for a few moments about God, and finished by saying “Alright, alright,” without giving any ado to those who died, suffered, and are suffering from HIV/AIDS, the subject matter of the film he starred in. Very classy finish, Mr. McConaughey.

The show overall was handled with class and grace. The highly under-appreciated Her won for Best Original Screenplay, and the pairing of Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both cherries on top of a historic night for film. And the 75th Anniversary Tribute to The Wizard of Oz was elegant, tasteful, and beautifully sung by P!nk.

But please, Academy, don’t go an hour over next year. Some of us have class on Mondays.