The Oscars day after: Who won, who didn't and what it all meant

Mar 03, 2014

Movie critic Ann Hornaday took questions on the Academy Awards - whether the right movies won the right awards, how this year's ceremony fared, and which movies or actors deserved more recognition.

Good morning Oscar fans! If you're awake and caffeinated, let's gab about last night! I was gratified that '12 Years a Slave' won best picture, and loved seeing Cuaron get his due...Although I wish the love had been spread around a little more. Thoughts and feelings, chatters? 

I think Ellen should be Oscar host for life. I can't remember the last time I had that much fun watching the show.

She is undoubtedly a congenial, pleasant presence! I enjoyed her too -- but I think her laid-back persona, combined with the back-loaded structure of the show, made for a tedious experience during the saggy, baggy middle. As always, I'd call for fewer montage sequences. As always, the Academy will choose to ignore me. Sigh.

associated with a movie that wins Best Picture to go up on stage when the statue is given out? I thought that one was for the producers (which can be a big group just by itself).

Good question -- you're right, traditionally it's the producing team that goes up on stage for a best picture win, but lately we've seen the whole cast and creative team -- I can't imagine that these things aren't worked out beforehand ("If we win, we're all going up..."). I think it's fine, it really adds to the emotion of the moment.

Why didn't a movie so wonderful as Philomena not win anything? I am guessing you will say it is because there were so many great ones this year. I just thought the story in the movie was one that has never been told before. I heard a good interview with the real Philomena, and she is thrilled to give voice to all the women who had this horrific thing happen to them so long ago.

I agree with you, I would have loved to see 'Philomena' win something -- I would have given it the adapted screenplay award, just to spread the love around. You're correct that I think there were lots of great movies in 2013 -- but it would have been nice to have seen more of them recognized last night.

Sorry - - this patting themselves on the back is totally meaningless. Spectacle for the purpose of spectacle. And no, I didn't watch a moment of it, I did see some of the nominated films, and won't see or not see one because it was or wasn't nominated. Bah humbug. IMHO.

I agree with the "patting themselves on the back" part, but must beg to differ as to the meaning. In fact, the Oscars *have* come to possess meaning, especially as a chance for otherwise little-seen movies to gain in public awareness. Yes, films like 'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' were already doing well before the nominations, but for smaller nominated films like 'Her,' 'Philomena' and 'Nebraska,' awards season provides a valuable boost. Without awards season, studios might only be making special effects spectacles and sequels. Not the stuff of a healthy cinematic diet!

was, I guess, the big loser. I thought it would pull in at least a couple of Oscars. It doesn't make the movie worse, but I'm sure it's a disappointment for everyone involved with it.

Undoubtedly painful, especially since 'American Hustle' was up for ten Oscars, tying 'Gravity' for most nominations. Both 'Hustle' and 'Wolf of Wall Street' were completely shut out. Ouch. Like last year, director David O. Russell guided his actors to nominations in all four categories; for better or worse, it just wasn't his year this year.

He can be comforted by having a really big hit on his hands with 'Hustle' -- his best-performing film yet! That means a lot, and I know he'll be back swinging in no time. His career resurgence has been a thrill to observe, almost of McConaissance proportions! Good on him.

Which nominee would you have dropped to include Redford for Best Actor? Leo? I watched "All is Lost" instead of the Oscars last night. I imagine what he pulled off in that movie was much more difficult than he made it appear. Just wish the final scene had been a little less cheesy.

Man, that's a toughie -- someone was observing recently that we easily could have populated a whole additional five-man best actor race from last year, with Redford, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker and Joaquin Phoenix.

That said, I'd probably switch out Christian Bale. I'm not a huge fan of  'Wolf of Wall Street,' but I appreciate the total commitment of DiCaprio's performance. Bale has lots of great performances in his future, I'm not sure the one in 'Hustle' was one for the ages.

I'm glad you found as much to value in 'All is Lost' and Robert Redford's performance as I did. Breathtaking.

There's something wrong with the format when Inside Llewyn Davis is shut out of the Oscars and gets only two nominations I know the Coens are a niche audience, but quality is quality. And what was with the endless montages?

My poor, poor, forgotten 'Llewyn Davis.' God, I loved that movie. But you know what? For every person like you and me, I've met -- and even know and love! -- someone who absolutely *hates* the movie. I know it's difficult to believe, but a lot of people were put off by Llewyn's character, the Coens' absurdist, non-linear story and how many liberties they took with Greenwich Village in the 1960s. 

By my lights, the movie is perfect in every way, and I can't wait to see it again. And hear it again.


How did this year compare to others in terms of depth of quality movies? I feel as though there were six movies that would have been considered front-runners in other years. Strongest year since when?

Strongest year in a loooong time. Although I must say, in recent years I have not struggled to come up with a top ten list. Considering most people only see about six movies a year, that's a pretty healthy eco-system to roam around in.

It seems to me that the trick now is for the studios to find a way to distribute their best films throughout the year, rather than just the fall/winter awards season. As much as I appreciate awards for that earned marketing they provide, they have created a huge bottleneck at the end of the year, when no one with anything resembling a life can possibly see all the good stuff out there.

The question is, do films like 'Nebraska' and 'Her' leave money on the table by arriving in a scrum of bigger, noisier movies? Or does Oscar attention give them the best shot they could have had? Without a truly controlled study, it's difficult if not impossible to say. 

How would you rate the host? We were embarrassed for her.

Oh I wasn't embarassed. I find her very likable and easy-going. I like her vibe! I just wish the pacing of the show was more even, with a few high-profile awards sprinkled throughout rather than at the end. (Like the movie year itself, the Oscar show is back-loaded!) 

Are there any Oscar categories that don't exist but you think should?

Well, the HBO documentary I saw recently called "Casting By" convinced me that casting directors probably deserve an Oscar all their own, and I've never understood why stunt men and women don't get their due on the big night -- they put life and limb at risk for the art form! 

I'm of two minds on comedy. On the one hand, having a comedy category like the Golden Globes might help bring visiblity to an oft-dismissed genre...But that kind of stigmatizes it as well. So I'll abstain on that for the moment.

Does diCaprio just not have a lot of friends and allies in Hollywood? He should have won for "The Aviator," not for "The Wolf of Wall Street," but still, he's a stellar actor, one of the best of his generation, and you would have thought that he'd have won an Oscar by now.

He does seem to be a perennial also-ran, doesn't he? But the fact that he's been nominated so many times indicates he *does* enjoy the respect of his peers. It's probably just a function of the particular year and his competition at the time.

I was not as taken with 'The Aviator' as you were -- I found the movie kind of leaden and inert, and I never quite bought him as Hughes...But I agree with you that he's a superb actor. I really liked him in 'The Great Gatsby' last year! The perfect melding of star persona and character!

Did Lupita win by a mile or was it closer than people think, thats J Law could of won?

Unless you someone else here has an in with all 6,000 members of the Academy, we'll never know. It's a very opaque group, and their voting can be maddeningly arbitrary (although they made the right call on Lupita).

For a sobering glimpse inside the Academy, check out the 'Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots' that the Hollywood Reporter compiled this year. Amazingly candid and kind of depressing!


I thought she was playing to the room rather than the audience at home. I enjoyed her, though, but do think she went with the whole narcissistic theme of Hollywood. I never have seen the audience at the Oscars more excited than they all were to get into that selfie.

Yes, the selfie was quite the convenient metaphor wasn't it? Then again, this *is* a very elite, insular group of movie professionals talking to each other, and only obliquely to the rest of us. The show is really designed as a huge infomercial for Hollywood and its industrial products -- disguised as a celebration of the art form.

Both things co-exist, however uneasily. Last night's celebration of 'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' was a perfect example of how art and commerce can come together and make great entertainment that actually advances the medium. 

Liked that they didn't play the winners off as quickly as they had in the past few years, but the show could omit some of the patter and montages.

Agreed, agreed. And Jared Leto set the bar for Oscar speeches -- not just for last night but for all time. Then Lupita gave a flawless response, in such a similar spirit. For a couple of first-timers, they nailed it -- and, like you, I'm glad the orchestra let them have their due.

I didn't have strong negative opinions about Ellen, but I didn't get the comedy. What was the deal with the pizza? The Twitter selfies? The scratch-offs? I didn't loathe these gags; I just found them random and pointless. Am I missing something?

Well, they weren't 'gags,' per se -- it wasn't a set-up-punch-line, joke-y kind of comedy. It was more observational and experiential. I didn't mind it (although I did miss the big Billy Crystal intro montage). As one of the chatters observed, it might have played better with the live audience than out in TV land. 

thought it ironic that the Academy honored the Wizard of Oz turning 75 when it lost the best picture Oscar to Gone with the Wind back in the day. Acknowledgement that being labelled best of the year doesn't mean history will view it the same way.

Well said!

Unfunny, surprisingly mean (the crack about Liza being a male impersonator), running boring bits into the ground (the "pizza" thing should have been axed after the first try), and just uninspiring. There were a lot of fails last night, but chief among them was her hosting performance. My friends and I were screaming at the teevee for her to pick up the pace and get the show moving (i.e., back to the awards and off the silly audience interactions). Tina & Amy have shown how to do it - open with a great monologue and then take a back seat to keep things moving.

You're right about Fey and Poehler. They're the new gold standard, and I wonder how long it will take for the Academy to poach them from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. All is fair in love and media cross-promotion!

have gotten stale. Can't imagine Meryl is too fond of them either. Hosts have gone to the well many times more than is humorouse, time to retire them permanently.

Perhaps in proof of your point -- I don't even remember the Meryl Streep jokes! Are they about her being nominated so many times? Yeah, that idea is probably ready for the shelf.

Speaking of which -- upon reflection, I really wished she and Julia R. hadn't been nominated for 'August: Osage County,' a film I heartily disliked. I wish Brie Larson could have had Meryl's slot for her astonishing performance in 'Short Term 12,' and maybe Shailene Woodley or Scarlett Johansson get supporting nods for their work in 'The Spectacular Now' and 'Her.'

Can someone please explain to DiCaprio fanatics that a guy who is not even forty, with five Oscar nominations and no wins yet, doesn't have a lot to complain about? Please see the careers of Peter O'Toole (an honorary award doesn't make up for going 0-8), Richard Burton (0-7) and Glenn Close (0-6) for comparisons.

Nothing to add to that! 

As a devotee of Alfred Hitchcock films, I'm going to try to erase Kim's appearance and performance last night from my memory and try to remember her from her films. Why was she there? I understand that she appreciated being asked, but why ask her, and didn't anybody bother to talk to her before hand? She seemed overwhelmed by the occasion, and -- sad to say -- most of the audience didn't seem to know who she was.

I still haven't figured out just why she was there...Although it's always a nice gesture to recognize the greats of Hollywood history at these events. Between her, Sidney Poitier and John Travolta, I wonder if the problem wasn't with the teleprompters? Something was clearly amiss.

Do you think this movie would have received a more positive response from the Academy if it had delved more into the mechanics of Jordan Belfort's illegality? That really seemed to separate this movie from past similar Scorcese films like Goodfellas and Casino.

I'm not sure more mechanics would have helped; personally, I thought it was just too repetitive, and frankly lacked a strong point of view. I don't mean that I needed Scorsese to moralize -- I can make up my own mind. But I do think he was just showing, showing, showing without ever really reflecting on what Belfort's story meant -- to Scorsese himself, to the audience, to the country.

I was never as invested in Belfort's journey, however sordid, as I had been in Henry Hill's. The filmmakers just didn't succeed in making me care one way or another. 

How did this movie not get a best picture nod?

I so wish the Academy had seen fit to give 'Fruitvale Station' that tenth best picture nomination. I totally agree that it was worthy. And what a great way to give filmmaker Ryan Coogler the encouragement he so richly deserves.

Anecdotally, I have heard that he really wowed the industry when he was on the smaller awards circuit last fall. So he did get recognition, it just would have been nice to see the film honored in a bigger way.

I absolutely love her (Enchanted is one of my very favorite movies), and I feel bad that she has been nominated five times and has yet to win. What does she need to do to get an Oscar besides have a great film in a year Cate Blanchett doesn't?

I loved 'Enchanted' too, and thought it deserved a nomination back when it came out! Don't worry about Amy Adams -- she's in it for the long haul, and has deep respect in the industry. She just needs that perfect script, perfectly-timed release and a clear field! I'm sure it'll happen.

Loved her as a host! But I didn't understand why she would introduce, say John Travolta, only to have him introduce the band. That happened several times and seemed weird. Was it merely an opportunity for Travolta (and others) to have a moment of face time?

In a word: Yes.

I hate the montages - a montage to heroes?! - they just break the momentum of the show. As did Bette Midler singing for the tribute to dead people. It just felt loooooong, and not a show worthy of a really good movie year.

One of the enduring questions from last night is why, in the name of all that's holy, the producers didn't ask the Divine Miss M. to sing *during* the montage, instead of after it. Absolutely bizarre.

Were you as moved as some of us by the respect that Angelina Jolie demonstrated for Sidney Poitier?

YES! Fair warning: I'm a huge Angelina fan. I think she's amazing and serious and deeply gifted and just...great! And her moment with Mr. Poitier only reinforced that. Grace personified. Love her.

I think he is often better than the movies he is in, and that hurts him during award season.

Good point.

Was Angelina Jolie presenting with Sidney Poirtier. She's stunning and thoughtful, and he's well, he's Sidney Poirtier!

Do the presenters actually rehearse? Talk about stepping all over someone's big moment. I loved Ellen as host, her BFF, Meryl Givin Pharrell a great shimmy, Bill Murray's Harold Ramis shout-out, Lupita ' s speech, Theron ' dress and Pink.

Would have been awkward to honor GWTW on a night when 12 Years a Slave (which presented a far different side of the Unpleasantness between the States) was receiving accolades.

Would it have been improper for a special tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman? I had sort of expected one.

That's tricky, because then where do you draw the line? It's interesting you should bring up Hoffman, because his death elicited such a deep response from readers. People really loved and were moved by him. I only wish he could have known. 

I was surprised that Tom Hanks and George Clooney did not show up, even though both were in Best Picture nominees. I guess that I felt bad that Barkhad Abdi (sp?) was the only one from Captain Phillips there. I'm assuming they would have been invited, right? Also, I thought it was tacky to have Bette Midler sing after, but not during, the In Memoriam segment. The attention seemed to be more focused on her and not those who passed away. (although she had a great performance!)

I too was puzzled, especially by Clooney's absence as a producer of 'Gravity.' Very strange -- as was the apparent tension between '12 Years a Slave' screenwriter John Ridley and director Steve McQueen. Apparently they had a disagreement over writing credits that they have yet to heal from. I say, when each of you has an Oscar safely under his belt, it's time to get over it!

What about Kevin Spacey as a host, since he is used to performing on stage and has some singing chops (albeit as Bobby Darin)?

Hmmm...I still vote for Amy and Tina. With Spacey as wingman!

I read those - seriously, you didn't have time to watch the SHORTS? They're short!! The most intriguing comment to me was the person who doesn't vote for documentaries on principle because they are an "incestuous bunch" (I think that was the quote). Do you know what that is about? I liked "20 Feet from Stardom."

How about the one whose wife "really liked 'Willamena'"?! Oy...It makes you cringe, and very grateful that deserving films get recognized at all!

Based on their speeches, I think it would be more fun to work with Cuaron than McQueen. (definitely if you were collaborating on the script)

I will saw, I've interviewed both and, as much respect as I have for McQueen as an artist, I completlely fell for Cuaron. Not only brilliant, but an incredibly warm, deep-feeling man. The film I talked to him about was 'Children of Men,' which by my lights should have taken best picture in 2007. But they keep forgetting to ask me!

I'm mixed. Hearing everyone blurt a list of names is weird. But I'm not sure that using the space for politics, which is really what Jared did, is appropriate. I think Matt Mcconaughey's speech made sense. Emit thank yous in a few broad strokes and then tell us what keeps you ticking, if you want to share that.

I didn't interpret Leto's speech as political, as much as sensitive to what was going on in the wider world, and expressing sympathy for people struggling for peace and prosperity, wherever they are. Less polemical than humanistic. I liked it.

Should have gone to Julie Delpy for "Before Midnight."

was when she came out as Glinda after the Wizard of Oz tribute. She's at her best when poking fun at herself.

Chatters, I need to wrap up right on the dot today in order to allow for storm delays in my trip home. I will publish your thoughts without comment -- but please know how grateful I am for your time and contributions! Can't wait to do it again!

While watching the show last night, I realized that Jack Nicholson wasn't in attendance. Isn't he usually front row at the Oscars? My wife also noticed a conspicuous absence from George Clooney, given that he starred in one of the biggest winners of the night (Gravity). Were their invitations lost in the mail? Or were they out settling the pizza bill?

I'm kind of glad The Wolf of Wall Street didn't win anything--getting very tired of these movies that glamorize bad boy behavior. And I'm thrilled for Alfonso! Ellen is a wonderful palate cleanser after last year's sleazy Seth McFarlane--she is so charming and fun.

liked the silence during it, seemed more solemn that way. Didn't like the examples of their work that was put next to the name and their job type, some were okay, but for others I was like why mention that but not X?

I have to respectfully disagree. I was glad they went back to using a movie score to accompany the montage rather than having a live performance, which truthfully distracted from the names and faces being honored (because the camera direction constantly forces the focus on the singer instead of the screen behind them). Having said that, do one or the other, but definitely don't pad the show by having both.

She did an on-stage interview with Robert Osbourne last year, which was later televised on TCM. It was her first public appearance of that sort in many, many years, and I found it heartbreaking and quite moving. If you'd seen that, you might understand a bit more about the PTSD-type baggage she seems to have after her Hollywood years. I suspect the reaction to that prompted someone to consider her for the Oscar thing. I felt so awful for her. Be kind.

He has had amazing performances in The Hollow Crown and Coriolanus, but none of them were released as movies but on television. He was also amazing as Loki in Thor: the Dark World. I'd love to see him get an award. Benedict who?

It's silly to say that history now thinks the Academy got it wrong and The Wizard of Oz is better than Gone with the Wind. 1939 was a seminal year in the industry--there was an insanely high number of future classics that came out that year, including Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Ninotchka. Adjusted for inflation GTWT is still the highest grossing film ever, and one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. WofOz is pure movie magic. They're both amazing films.

Very sorry he didn't win, because at his age, you have to figure there aren't many chances left.

That's all the time we have. Thanks everyone for a great and lively chat!

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