The Oscars in Review: 5 Highs and 5 Lows

1. Lupita Nyong’o’s beautiful acceptance speech

In her very first film role, the newly minted Yale Drama School graduate snagged the role of Patsey, a slave who is regularly raped by a plantation owner. Nyong’o struck exactly the right tone when she said,”It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said. “And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”


Respect was one element that made her speech special; another was the evident excitement on the beaming 31-year-old Kenyan’s face. Nyongo’ was simply adorable, the big star of the evening.

2. Matthew McConaughey just keeps livin’

McConaughey was the overwhelming favorite to win Best Actor, mainly because in shooting Dallas Buyers Club he shed a lot of body weight, played an AIDS victim and his character stood for tolerance. Check, check, check. But McConaughey has had a career resurgence lately, with films like Bernie, Mud and Magic Mike and his outstanding work in HBO’s True Detective.

McConaughey didn’t miss a chance to make an impression, telling the world, “First off I want to thank God, because he’s the one I look up to, he’s graced my life with opportunities which I know are not of my hand or any other human kind. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late [actor] Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend and that friend is you.'” McConaughey went on,

To my father, I know he’s up there right now with a big pot of gumbo, he’s got a lemon meringue pie, he’s probably up there in his underwear, he’s got a cold can of Miller lite and he’s dancing right now.


3. Steve McQueen’s leap

The heavy-set British artist turned director has made three incredibly somber films — Hunger, Shame and now 12 Years a Slave, which won the top award this year — but after a brief, respectful speech he showed off a boyish side, leaping in the air with his Oscar.

“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” he said. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup” (whose life story was the basis of the film). “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

4. Pharrell Williams’ dance party.

Singing “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, in a ridiculous Smokey Bear hat, the hip-hop singer introduced a little liveliness into the otherwise leaden ceremony when he stepped down into the audience and got Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams to join him for a few quick dance moves.

Points must be subtracted from Streep for remaining seated while she danced, though.


5. The epic group selfie.

Okay, it wasn’t a particularly amusing moment when Bradley Cooper and some other stars participated in a group selfie, but at least the result knocked an Obama picture off its perch as the most-retweeted image ever.

Maybe more memorable were the broadcast’s many lowlights. Here are five that won’t soon be forgotten:


1. John Travolta’s brain freeze.

John, you had one job: correctly pronouncing the name of Frozen star Idina Menzel, who sang her now Oscar-winning number “Let It Go.” Instead, Travolta introduced someone called “Adele Dazi.” Nope, not even in the ballpark, Yorn Bravota.


2. Ellen DeGeneres ordering pizza.

Evidently thinking of turning the Oscars into oddball performance art like Andy Kaufman taking an audience out for milk and cookies, or else trying to humanize superstars, the host ordered three large pizzas, had them delivered onstage and then distributed a few slices around the baffled audience. Weeks seemed to go by and seasons changed while we waited for the point of all this to be made clear.It never was. Ellen just thought pizza = laughs.


3. Ellen’s Liza Minnelli joke.

In her opening monologue, DeGeneres had this to say about the surprisingly prominently seated Liza Minnelli:

And I have to say one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have seen in my entire life. Good job, Sir.

DeGeneres isn’t the one to be making jokes about women who lack femininity. Besides, this one was just mean. Save the barbs for people who really deserve to be taken down, like Alec Baldwin. And hey, let’s throw in Ellen’s pathetic attempt to get a laugh while dressing up like Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz.


4. The plastic surgeons.


There’s such a thing as aging with dignity, and then there’s Kim Novak. Unlike Sidney Poitier, who is old and frail and seemed to have earned his elder-statesman status, Novak just came across as a batty old crone who just couldn’t stop messing with her face.

Goldie Hawn, despite being 13 years younger, looked almost equally bad, her face a mass of lumpy modeling clay. 

5. Jamie Foxx’s moronic line reading.

Foxx seemed unaware that the last word in a line on the teleprompter is not necessarily the last word in a sentence. Standing beside Jessica Biel (his costar in Stealth!) while introducing the nominees for Best Original Score, he said, “”A great score will blow … your mind.” Hey Jamie, how about showing up for rehearsal next time?


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