4 Surprises from the Academy Awards

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As long as I can remember, I've been a sucker for the big awards shows: the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. Even when I haven't seen the movies or shows or listened to the albums and songs receiving awards, I still find myself fascinated by the peculiar celebratory atmosphere of awards night. While I've lamented in the past that the awards shows -- particularly the Grammys -- lack the dignity they once possessed, I can usually count on the Oscars to capture the glamor of old Hollywood. I have to admit: I don't care about what people are wearing or about who wins -- I just enjoy the competition and the tradition that has carried on for 86 years.

Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony was no exception. The film industry turned out in all its finery to honor the best of 2013. The show provided moments both wacky and touching, and the telecast included plenty of high and low points. From host Ellen DeGeneres' celebrity pizza order (complete with $1,000 tip), to John Travolta's mangling of Idina Menzel's name, to Pink's powerful rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," the Oscars didn't disappoint (unless you're a fan of Saving Mr. Banks, in which case the nominations disappointed). I walked away from the 86th annual Academy Awards with a few surprising observations. Allow me to share them with you.

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4. Political statements didn't take to the forefront like they have in past years.

It seems like, year in and year out, one left-leaning cause or another gets shoved down our throats at the Oscars. This year, we didn't see quite as many political moments, which was particularly surprising considering the subject matter of many of the nominated films.

Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto did make mention of the crises in Ukraine and Venezuela in his speech, while both he and fellow Dallas Buyers Club winners Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, who won for hair and makeup, spoke of the AIDS crisis, as though it were 1985 all over again.

But those moments were few and far between. Even host DeGeneres chose to steer clear of terribly topical jokes, even in light of the growing debate over same-sex marriage. This year's only cause ribbons (pictured above) honored the petition to include camera assistant Sarah Jones in the In Memoriam segment. The largely apolitical nature of the ceremony made for a refreshing change to some years' heavy political bent.

Kim Novak

3. There is such a thing as too much cosmetic surgery.

I sometimes get a little sad seeing actors and actresses ruin their looks trying to appear younger. But that doesn't stop me from marveling at their bizarre new faces and bodies. This year, 81-year-old Kim Novak, who used to be one of the most glamorous women in film, revealed the results of too many cosmetic procedures. When Novak presented Best Animated Feature with Matthew McConaughey, she resembled a Muppet (I'm thinking Janice from Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem). Some of the more merciless folks on Twitter snickered at the fact that she presented an award to Frozen.

John Travolta took a ribbing as well for his appearance -- one Twitter user asked if "his new face was created by a team of animators." Goldie Hawn also looked as though she had gone under the knife one too many times herself.

Here's your PJ Lifestyle public service announcement for the day: kids, stay away from elective cosmetic surgery.

2. God received praise in some unexpected places.

Not long ago I read that only three Oscar winners in recent years thanked God for their wins -- Denzel Washington, Jennifer Hudson, and Forrest Whitaker. This year, two winners tried to make up for the praise gap in unique ways.

Singer Darlene Love (think "He's A Rebel" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"), one of the subjects of the winning documentary feature 20 Feet From Stardom, ascended the podium with the filmmakers. After they made their speeches, she said, "Lord God, I praise You. And I am so happy to be here representing the ladies of 20 Feet From Stardom." After she spoke, Love belted out a few lines of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," and the audience rewarded her with a standing ovation.

Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey waxed surprisingly serious in his speech (well, for the most part). The Dallas Buyers Club star didn't go on about AIDS sufferers - rather, he made a divine acknowledgment:

Now, first off, I want to thank God. ‘Cause that’s who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.

In his inimitable style, McConaughey ended his speech with "all right, all right, all right" and an exhortation to "just keep livin'," but it was truly refreshing to see an actor of his stature expressing his faith in a supreme being that doesn't live in the White House.

1. This year featured the BEST SPEECH EVER!

This year's Oscars included some great speeches. From Matthew McConaughey's heartfelt words, to Darlene Love's roof-raising gospel, to the inspiring thank yous from Lupita Nyong'o (the new Audrey Hepburn in my opinion), Sunday's ceremony didn't lack for memorable moments from winners.

But the best speech of all came from the married couple behind Best Song winner "Let It Go" (from Frozen). Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez clearly had the time of their lives as they rhymed and sung their way through a list of names. Anderson-Lopez closed the speech by dedicating the song to their daughters. The couple created a unique, whimsical, and heartfelt moment that will go down in history as the best Oscar speech of all time.

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If you haven't figured it out by now, I love the Academy Awards. Though I skip the red-carpet rigmarole, I revel in the meat and potatoes of the ceremony -- laughing at some points, finding myself inspired by others, and enjoying the competition in general. For me, it's a fun, long night full of surprises.

On the other hand, I refuse to abide the smug attitude from some of my fellow conservatives who look down their noses at the celebrities and refuse to look past the politics and simply take it all in. If we look on events like the Oscars with total disdain, we can't expect anyone in the entertainment industry to take seriously any attempts by the right to make inroads into show business. After all, how can we expect to enact positive change in a culture where we refuse to engage?