Oscar winners keep me fascinated on the small screen, too

Ellen DeGeneres knows how to set the right tone with the biggest stars. (From ABC/Oscars)

Ellen DeGeneres knows how to set the right tone with the biggest stars. (From ABC/Oscars)

I can’t quibble with the picks.

“12 Years a Slave” was a big winner. With the local connection to upstate New York, bravo to the inspiring tale of a free man wrongly kept against his will, from the words of Solomon Northup. The pure joy and celebration of the cast on stage and the show-closing dance of joy by director Steve McQueen as they accepted the biggie, the best picture award, was even more uplifting than Pharrell’s team-dance number for his song “Happy” from “Frozen.” Bravo.

“Gravity” was a big winner. Surely this space spectacular was a lesson in teamwork, with so many of the folks who put together the big hit rewarded with an Oscar. They all heaped much credit on actress Sandra Bullock. To the best of my counting abilities, George Clooney was mentioned once, and absent from the theater. Then, when the announcement for best actress came after the others, Bullock was left cheering with everybody else as Cate Blanchett accepted the Oscar.

“Dallas Buyer’s Club” was a big winner. The quirky indie tale of an individual battle against AIDS swept the top two male categories, with Jared Leto winning for best supporting actor and Matthew McConaughey taking the statue for best actor. Those two gave two of the most interesting acceptance speeches, too. Leto opened the show with a warm and heartfelt speech thanking the right people and pushing very deserving causes. McConaughey also thanked a bunch of people, but came back to his own perseverance. Call it interesting and odd.

Ellen DeGeneres won without taking home any awards. The host was warm, brash, irreverent and seriously funny. Her bits of getting a gaggle of stars to pose for a selfie to Tweet, and ordering in takeout pizza and passing the hat among the stars to pay the delivery guy were both fantastic. She’s just the right tone to her relationship with the biggest name over the years to bring out their human side for all to see.

Great year.

And yet my favorite moment of the night was Robert DeNiro’s speech before the awarding of the best screenplay awards. The actor spoke in front of a background of a hundred or so historic manual typewriters.

DeNiro said: “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

Indeed. But the folks who wrote the great movies in the class of 2013 got through it. In a big way.

You can find a list of the winners here, thanks to npr.org.

Did you watch? What did you think of the Oscars broadcast Sunday night?

31 thoughts on “Oscar winners keep me fascinated on the small screen, too

  1. I didn’t watch, I decided to fall asleep in the middle of “The Walking Dead” instead. The news shows this morning seem to be doing a good job of showing the speeches and highlights.

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  2. Great synopsis of the awards, Mark. De Niro was great, and the typewriters were a very cool touch. Instead of having all the typewriters the same, it would have been unique if all of them were different.

    I can’t complain about the winners; all the categories were too-close-to-call. It was great to see the lesser known Leto win an award, and his speech was honest and heartfelt. 12 Years a Slave, which I have yet to see, definitely deserved it; my movie-going cronies still talk the movie up and down, and they saw the film when it first came out. I’m pleased that Blanchett won, because her performance was insanely good in Blue Jasmine. I can quote myself with saying that Bullock’s performance restored my faith in her ability to act, and her role in Gravity was incredibly deep and much better than The Blindside. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the latter,but her role wasn’t as moving as her’s in Gravity.

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    • Thanks for adding your views, Chris. One of the reasons Sir Oscar gets handed out every year is to get folks talking about the best movies all over again, and lusting to see the ones they missed.

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    • Glad to help, Sandra. I, too, went through the Disney Channel period, then Nickelodeon. Loved ‘Rugrats.’ LIked ‘Doug’ and his friend Patty Mayonnaise. Now my daughter turns 24 in April. Sigh. Enjoy, my friend.

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  3. We watched it. Ellen does strike the right balance. I thought she was wasting a lot of time with her bits out there in the audience, wandering around, collecting money for the pizza, especially when people’s speeches were cut short to make room for all her banter. But then she made good on the pizza, and of course, her tweeted pic was the most retweeted ever, so she knows what she’s doing. It always blows my mind that she’s 56. She has more energy than I do. I thought Pink did a good job w/ “OTR” ( I just realized that has the same initials as “on the rag”–sorry, Mark), but dang, if you’ve got Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli out in the audience, and they can both sing, they should have done the tribute to “Wizard of Oz.” Plus, “Gone w/ the Wind” came out that same year, ’39, but that didn’t get a tribute. No matter, Wizard of Oz is dear to my heart. I have no choice but to be happy for Matthew McHotty, as he is my hometown boy. Just watching the little clips of “Gravity” makes me nauseous, so I’ll have to take my son’s word for it when he says it’s good.

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    • I have a feeling Liza and Lorna may have taken a pass on the tribute thing. I do not recall seeing either of them sing in a while. Better to sit in sibling row and be gracious than to not be able to live up to mom’s legacy. Of course, the audience would have been forgiving and not snarky, right? Ha on that one. And Pink was fabulous. Ellen is my age. She dances rings around me. Oy. You and Matthew from the same hometown, huh? Good water supply. I will see Gravity on cable or DVD, where the seasickness will be damped some by the smaller screen. I think a dramamine patch for a movie would be kind of drastic..

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  4. Don’t remember what I was doing last night, but I do remember a Reuben sandwich was involved. Didn’t watch the Oscars, since I don’t go to movies, so for me there’s no point. I think there was a lot of ice turning to a lot of snow involved also, so that would equal more pain, mostly in the butt. Since my baby is 46 now, it’s been a long time since we watched Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers, and other shows that no longer exist. Don’t think they had cable that long ago. Oops, time for a pain pill so it will kick in before the sadistic P.T. comes to torture me again. See ya!

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  5. i love the big night, no matter how cheesy, or controversial or cliche. and then – fell asleep partway through. i think 50 years deserved the win, have yet to see gravity though, and happy to see ‘beauty’ win best foreign film )

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    • You fell asleep, Beth! And you are the movie woman. Ah, well, there are so many clips available on the ol’ www, no fear of missing a single thing. I’m glad your foreign pick came out.

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      • i know! it is kind of sacrilege in my world. but, waking up at 5 does not lend itself to many late nights, sadly. this night each year would be worth it though, if my body would just cooperate ) and i agree about ellen. she is smart, witty and never cruel. why she’s such a great host.

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      • Rising at 5, yes, that would do it for me, too, no matter the importance of the show. I’d say making it past the first hour would be pretty good for the Oscars, Beth.

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  6. Thanks for the recap Mark, I haven’t YET today been able to even look. I agree with all you said from what I know. And you can NOT go wrong with Ellen Degeneres. She’s good people.

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  7. The Pizza delivery and “selfie” showed me that these are real people that love Pizza and fun, just like us regular folks. I thought that was the most humanistic, real part of the whole thing.
    Ellen is always awesome!

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    • Yes, it was almost as if they’d be OK to have as your next-door neighbor, the way that Ellen gets them to act regular. If you lived in a really ritzy neighborhood, that is, right, Trey?

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  8. So glad you caught the entire Robert DeNiro quotation and the way it made you feel! I think this was a great piece of newsworthy reporting, Mark! You really show your experience and good writing talent here in this post particularly. I think it is well organized and exciting to read, too! Smiles, Robin

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