The 2014 Academy Awards shone Sunday night celebrated another year of exceptional filmmaking.
The torrential downpour that plagued Los Angeles on Saturday wasn’t able to dampen the mood when it came time for thousands of filmmakers and celebrities to attend the 86th annual Academy Awards. Held at the Dolby Theatre, the ceremony was absolutely wonderful; everything from the presenters to the musical guests, the production design of the stage to the promos that played during commercial breaks proved why this ceremony really is “Hollywood’s biggest night.”
“12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture, which wasn’t exactly a shock. It was amusing to see director Steve McQueen jump around in excitement after his speech before barreling into a huge group hug with his other producers and cast members. Matthew McConaughey won Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for “Dallas Buyers Club,” which, however well-deserved, disappointed all who had been hoping to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Oscar for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Several of the best speeches came from Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto and Actress Lupita Nyong’o. Leto, who won for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” gave a heartfelt speech thanking his mom for teaching him how to dream before saying, “To all the dreamers around the world watching this tonight in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say: We are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, I want to say we are thinking of you tonight.” And first-time nominee Nyong’o, who won for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” gave an eloquent speech, saying, “When I look down on this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
“Gravity” took home a whopping seven statues, sweeping the technical awards with wins in Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects, to name a few. Disney’s “Frozen” also came out strong, winning both Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “Let It Go.” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the pair who wrote the hit song, gave a wonderfully amusing speech that rhymed up until the very end, when they dedicated the song and the award to their two daughters.
Arguably the most entertaining part of the entire ceremony was its host, the one and only Ellen DeGeneres. Whether she was ordering pizza for everyone in the front rows of the audience and having Brad Bitt pass out paper plates, walking out on stage in a pink Glinda dress from “The Wizard of Oz,” or organizing what was perhaps the most amazing selfie ever taken with 10 other celebrities and breaking the Twitter record for most retweets, DeGeneres was fantastic as host. I can only hope that she’ll be back to do the whole thing again soon – and maybe temporarily disable Twitter for a second time while she’s at it.
But the glitz and glamour of the ceremony is second in comparison to the true nature of the awards: a celebration of all the amazing movies made in the past year. For me at least, in the end, the Academy Awards aren’t about who wins and who loses, or even who’s nominated and who’s not. The Oscars have always been, and should always be a wonderful celebration of all that was achieved in film and the incredible stories that were told through those films over the past year.