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Winners and losers from the 86th Academy Awards

Winners and losers from the 86th Academy Awards

Winners and losers from the 86th Academy Awards
March 03
23:25 2014

Preston Barta // Film Critic

In one of the most competitive best picture races in late years, Steve McQueen’s unflinching true tale of the antebellum South, “12 Years a Slave,” won the top honor of the night at the 86th annual Academy Awards on Sunday.

Sure, while most believed it was preordained that McQueen would ascend to the stage at the end of the Oscar show taking the large trophy, that didn’t make the victory any less satisfying. “12 Years a Slave” proved that, occasionally, the Academy does get it right.

Its closest competitor, the lost-in-space odyssey “Gravity” got the biggest slice of the Oscar pie. It took home the expected director win for Alfonso Cuarón, along with a slew of technical awards, for a total of seven out of its 10 nominations.

More often than not, Oscar winners are smaller, independent films that few people see. But “Gravity” was one of the biggest hits of last year, bringing in seven times its $100 million budget at the box-office. Although, it didn’t win the coveted Best Picture prize, it was widely considered a tight race and still won big.

Making Oscar history

McQueen became the first black director to win Best Picture, as “12 Years a Slave” was one of several films last year that explored the often traumatic history of African-Americans.

Cuarón, of Mexico, also made history as the first Latino to win Best Director. His astounding work will be remembered and studied for many years to come.

But perhaps the biggest history making moment of last night came from host Ellen DeGeneres. While the night was light on the surprises, it was heavy on Twitter traffic due to the unpredictability of DeGeneres.

She palled around with celebrities, buying them pizza and gathered a bunch of nominees for a “selfie” that quickly became the most re-tweeted picture ever. It even caused the social media platform to crash. So it will come as no surprise if DeGeneres makes many repeat performances at future Oscar events.

rs_1024x759-130828140235-1024.dallas-buyers-club-mcconaughey.ls.82813_copyWinners in the lead actor categories

Matthew McConaughey has come a long way from the shirtless wonder that starred in many forgettable romantic comedies, such as 2008’s “Fool’s Gold” and the following year’s “Ghost of Girlfriend’s Past.” After a two-year break, he led the cast of “The Lincoln Lawyer” (2011) and suddenly became a dangerously gifted actor. Now, his talents will be forever recognized for playing the 1980s cowboy battling HIV and the health care system in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

In his acceptance speech, McConaughey thanked God and his kin, including his deceased father, who the actor said is “probably up in heaven in his underwear, carrying a can of Miller Lite.” He ended his address with the “Dazed and Confused” phrase that we all love to hear: “All right, all right, all right.”

Expect McConaughey’s current level of fame and respect to help draw in more viewers as he steps back on the screen this winter in this year’s highly anticipated Christopher Nolan film, “Interstellar.”

We also figured Cate Blanchett would win Best Actress for playing a socialite whose high-style life quickly unravels in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” The acclaimed actress rose above the resurrected Allen child molestation scandal and thanked him for his “extraordinary screenplay.”

But what really sealed the deal was when Blanchett uttered her familiarity with Twitter by randomly telling her fellow nominee, Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”), to quote: “hashtag: suck it.” Her acceptance speech managed to come off as elegant and goofy in equal measures.

Jared_Lupita copy 2Winners in the supporting actor categories

Rounding off the acting honors was Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o. Leto, who hadn’t made a film in almost six years – focusing on his band, 30 Seconds to Mars – came back roaring to dominate the awards season in the supporting actor category. He both charmed and disturbed audiences with his portrayal of a cross-dressing AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Nyong’o triumphed for her gut-wrenching performance in “12 Years a Slave.”

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s,” said Nyong’o, referring to the heavily brutalized slave she portrayed in the film.

The young actress proved that she could be the next Jennifer Lawrence with her natural style and GIF-worthy moments during the show, especially when she jumped up from her seat and danced with Pharrell as he performed his Oscar-nominated song “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2.”

Losers’ walk

Among the losers of the night were “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” David O. Russell’s groove-tastic “American Hustle” was nominated for the most awards along with “Gravity.” But unlike the Sandra Bullock space adventure, “American Hustle” ended the night empty handed.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” also walked off with zero awards, while less critically-received films such as “The Great Gatsby,” also starring DiCaprio, took home two awards in the costume and production department. It’s a shame that both films performed so well commercially and critically garnered “nada.”

Overall, like last year, the Oscars were pretty predictable. While DeGeneres kept things moving as quickly as an Oscars show can move, hopefully next year they will throw in a few surprises to shake things up and maybe poor DiCaprio will finally take home his much desired trophy.

Feature photo: Sandra Bullock stars in, “Gravity,” the most awarded film of 2013. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Center photo 1: Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won Oscars on Sunday for their performances. Photo courtesy of Focus Features and Sony Picture Classics.
Center photo 2: Jared Leo and Lupita Nyong’o won Oscars on Sunday for their performances. Photo courtesy of Focus Features and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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