And the Oscar for Worst Award Show Goes To...

Sunday, March 02, 2014 - 09:35 PM

Somehow every year we have amnesia about last year's Oscars show, anticipating that we'll be surprised or at least entertained during the broadcast. The fact that the Golden Globes have recently become a delight to watch — thanks largely to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey — and that even the Grammys were amazingly good this year set the bar even higher.  Plus the quality and range of movies in 2013 were better than usual.

But we ended up again with wins that were all expected, except Best Picture — we were betting on Gravity, as it seemed to have all the perfect elements for the top Academy Award: beautiful visuals, action, emotion and uplift. How could it not? All that plus some deplorable musical performances ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sung schmaltzier than ever? Standing ovation for bland and boring U2? "Wind Beneath My Wings" in 2014??) made us wish we had watched a movie instead.

Kurt Andersen's Top 5 Oscar 2014 Takeaways:

  1. Biggest injustice: The Act of Killing not winning for Best Doc.
  2. Saddest thing outside the In Memoriam segment: Kim Novak's plastic surgery.
  3. Only surprise in terms of winners: Her, happily, for Best Original Screenplay.
  4. No surprises at all in terms of onstage spontaneity.
  5. In every sense one of the blandest, most forgettable Oscars ever.

Complete list of winners:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Directing: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty (Italy)

Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her

Animated Feature Film: Frozen

Production Design: The Great Gatsby

Cinematography: Gravity

Sound Mixing: Gravity

Sound Editing: Gravity

Original Score: Steven Price, Gravity

Original Song: "Let It Go" from Frozen

Costume: The Great Gatsby

Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club

Animated Short Film: Mr. Hublot

Documentary Feature: 20 Feet from Stardom

Documentary Short Subject: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Film Editing: Gravity

Live Action Short Film: Helium

Visual Effects: Gravity


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Comments [24]

Nancy Braman from port washington, NY

I'm a fan of Kurt Anderson, and therefore distressed about his comment about Kim Novak. We need an intelligent discussion about what leads these wonderfully talented women to risk disfigurement to maintain an always young appearance, not mean comments that are beneath all of our dignity. We don't have our own Maggie Smiths and Judi Dench's to cherish, and help us learn to accept our own aging beauty, but I would hope Kurt Anderson would help elevate the discussion, as he always has in the past.

Mar. 04 2014 09:22 AM
Deborah from NYC

Amen! Completely bland and predictable. We are never surprised by the Oscar winners anymore -- EVER! Love Ellen on her talk show. Not so much as host. What's up with ordering pizza, collecting tip money and taking selfies?! Just a complete waste of time. And the show ran over by a half hour.
But Gravity for best picture? No way. I was rooting for Wall Street.

Mar. 03 2014 03:43 PM
Theduke from Newark, NJ

Give Kim Novack a break. I think she looked fine for a woman her age. Now, what happened to Goldy Hawn?

Mar. 03 2014 11:45 AM
Charlie from CT

I was so upset that "The Act of Killing" didn't win, I couldn't focus on anything else! How could this happen?!

Mar. 03 2014 11:29 AM
Sue from Los Angeles

I'll tell you what's predictable -- the cynical, negative take on the Oscars every year ... here we are, armchair critics all, commenting on how boring and predictable it all is. Well, I disagree! Every year I look forward to and enjoy the Academy Awards because it's good entertainment! Give Kim Novack a break, and Ellen De Generis was her usual zany delightful self - unpretentious and a lotta fun. The gowns and actors/actresses were fabulously beautiful (Jennifer Lawrence! Anne Hathaway!) and Lupita's acceptance speech was amazing.

Mar. 03 2014 11:28 AM
Vaughn from New York City

Gravity? Best Picture? I don't think so. A cinematic and technical beauty, yes, but not the Best Picture of the Year. You want uplifting ending? Try finally getting back to your family after the brutalities of enslavement for 12 years. I loved the drama provided throughout Gravity, but Sandra Bullock miraculously landing uninjured in the whatever-named ocean, getting her legs under her, and walking off into the sunset was not uplifting -- it was pure Hollywood!

Mar. 03 2014 11:26 AM
Sara M. from New York

I loved the acceptance speeches of the Lopez team and Lupita Nyong'o, and enjoyed U2's performance. I found the Oscars this year to be a bit more dignified than most years, as well.

My favorite part was Nyong'o's last sentence regarding the validity of children's dreams, as opposed to them 'coming true'.

All in all, I would have rather watched this award show than a movie.

Mar. 03 2014 11:17 AM

Last year's Oscar broadcast was full of LIVE music, Adele, Norah Jones, Shirley Bassey, the Cast of Les Miz...McFarlane was funny even if crude.

This year was a little boring. Jamie Foxx was clearly on something...Travolta's "Adela Dizeem" moment has knocked scientology's 'clear thinking' commercials in the teeth...I missed the hour from 9-10 as it was more compelling to watch Matthew McConaughey act rather than see him win an award (but I saw both). I presume during that hour I missed was the portion with Kim Novak. Was there any mention of 'Gone with the Wind"? It was that film's 75th anniversary, too. And the fact that in 75 years we have gone from slaves as 'happy pickanninnies' - even though Oscar broke the color line and presented its first award to a Black performer in that year - and the reality of the brutal theft of labor, personhood and dignity that was American slavery.
All the parts where Ellen interacted with other celebs as if they were 'just folks' - The selfie, the pizza, paying for the pizza, the lip balm...Were all just a little boring for me.
And some of the acceptance speeches....Let's just say it showed that these folks are not writers.

Mar. 03 2014 11:12 AM
Cindy from New York

No one will ever beat Billy Crystal as Oscar host.

Last year's big error was naming Argo best picture
(pure Hollywood) and overlooking Zero Dark Thirty which took
a few liberties but was a fundamentally accurate and important
story that all Americans deserve to hear.

Mar. 03 2014 11:11 AM
Michele from nyc

Justin Timberlake should host! Funny,s ings, dances, acts, crossesgenerations.

Mar. 03 2014 10:14 AM
Giovanni from Gramercy Park

What mystified men was all the boring musical performances (did they think this the Grammys) and none of the great musical song and dance numbers we get when Billy Crystal or Neil Patrick Harris host. I guess Ellen doesn't have that kind of range but it was a very tedious production.

Another mystery is why these actors have such a hard time reading teleprompters, which I assume provide them with all the words in large type and in English; you would think they were reading Braille. John Travolta's flubbing of Idina Menzel's name was pricelesss.

I think it was actually good this time that there were no big surprises in the awards department given the mistakes the votes have made in past years. Ellen summed it up when she said there were basically only two outcomes possible for the night: either 12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture or else the Academy is racist. Give that 93% of Academy voters are white and only one of the major award Black nominees was even born in America, she got that one right, and so did the voters.

After overlooking Lincoln last year for the very forgettable and historically innacurate Argo (my family is friends with a couple of the diplomats who were portrayed and even they said it was mostly Hollywood hogwash) the Academy did the right thing by picking a serious and historic movie over the popcorn films. I just year they put more effort into the entertainment portion and less on taking selfies and passing out pizza to the audience, although the mystified/horrified look on Martin Scorceses wife's face as he took a slice of pizza was at least a bit more entertaining than his more recent films.

Mar. 03 2014 09:55 AM

Ditto on the strange and obvious tension between the director and screenwriter for 12 Years a Slave, the predictability of almost all the picks, the songs, plastic surgery sadness but I have to say that I appreciated Ellen's lack of pomposity and her humanizing of the larger than life icons... I loved the pizza (they had to have left home over five hours ago to sit there in the tight gowns and make-up and suits through dinner and a lot of stress) and the selfie tweets and even her costume gag. She reminds us that in the midst of all of this self-importance, it's just people... people who make a lifetime of pretending with enormous SKILL at it, but still pretending. And sometimes it's enlightening and thought-provoking but mostly it's about entertainment, escape and making money. i wanted more of her...

Mar. 03 2014 09:53 AM
J from NJ

We didn't get to watch the Oscars 'cause we tried to "stream it live online!" We spent an hour searching and signing up for services (including ABC), none of which worked. I wonder if other computer users had similar experiences... We went through the same thing last year too. Even a delayed feed would have been fine. All we got was blank screens and spinning icons that said "please wait". We've been waiting a long time. The world has changed. WHY is my computer not a television yet?

Mar. 03 2014 09:40 AM
p. claire from end of the road

i think it is rather tacky to call out a seasoned actress on her plastic surgery like that. she is in her 80's, has been out of the main spotlight and she is made fun of, in a pointing and laughing, style. i am not saying you are going to be getting the surgery in your 80's, but let's see how well you are put together at that age and if you still feel the same way, and see how the younger set is pointing and laughing at you. i will challenge your dignity level then.

Mar. 03 2014 09:36 AM
Sheila Abrams from Snowless North Jersey

How come John Travolta did not know Idina Menzell's name? Wasn't it right in front of him? Or was he drunk or stoned? I'm glad Ellen DeGeneres said her name twice, clearly, afterward. Otherwise it was all predictable.

Mar. 03 2014 09:25 AM

Only 2 standout moments...Darlene Love letting it fly and Bill Murray's brief aside about Harold Ramis

Mar. 03 2014 09:16 AM
Leonore from Stuytown

What about how tacky it was to be taking all those selfies with the big Samsung advertiser device?

Mar. 03 2014 09:12 AM
AdelaDazeem from Manhattan

Then there was John Travolta's mash up of Idina Menzel's name as he introduced her performance of "Let It Go."

Mar. 03 2014 09:03 AM
jack from martha's vineyard

is it my imagination but did the writer of 12 years a slave thank everyone but the director and then when they all got up to accept for best picture, he was not on stage? at least not prominent. I tried to see him but didn't. when they cut away to the director's face after the writer accepted and walked off stage he did not look pleased. Is this my imagination? First time I've seen the oscars since I was a kid. Although I find ellen de generes pleasant enough in other circumstances, i thought she was way out of her league last night. except for the selfie. that was quite an inventive move.

Mar. 03 2014 09:03 AM

I agree with Linda. I enjoyed the Oscars. I thought Ellen was funny, but low key. The Grammys have turned into one long televised concert (which I enjoy, but, really, were any awards at all given that night, I forget). The Oscars are at least still an awards ceremony--and if you want entertainment, there really isn't anything keeping you from just going to a movie--lots of good ones this year!

Mar. 03 2014 09:01 AM
Geo from KEY WEST

Are serious: Gravity? Great effects and those awards well-deserved. But lame story and not much acting range. Minus points for the Hollywood ending.

Mar. 03 2014 08:59 AM
Warren from Morristown

I enjoyed missing the oscars last night. I haven't seen the show in over 20 years and never miss it. Can't stand the nonsense. I find out about the winners in the car going to work the next day.

Mar. 03 2014 08:52 AM

ditto with the first comment!

Mar. 03 2014 08:28 AM

I enjoyed the Oscars last night. I don't need to be shocked to be entertained.
If by bland you mean classy, then I'm all for bland every year!

Mar. 03 2014 08:16 AM

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