This year’s Oscars, now a week old, has a rich record of upsets and achievements. As the routine went, it celebrated underdog real-life heroes and big blockbusters, while amending traditions for the future.
Not much has changed with the Academy, and while the ceremony was breezy and insult-free to the industry (unlike last year), it was also half-sparkly with a definite direction of highlighting the everyday man and the struggles that make him (or her) a hero.
Around mid-ceremony, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs talked about its mission to “preserve the past (archiving and restoring motion pictures), honour the present (the Oscars) and shape the future of this medium (establish a museum by 2017)”. The museum is one of the Academy’s major initiatives that would “(celebrate) the cultural power of movies, their ability to bring stories to life, invent new worlds, touch our hearts, and expand our minds.”
According to the AMPAS President, film ticket sales exceeded five billion worldwide, which in turn, means people are still addicted to the big-screen despite piracy denting box-office figures.
American Hustle, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska and Philomena with ten, six, five, six and four nominations, respectively, walked off with the honour of being nominated. Her (Original Screenplay), and The Great Gatsby (Costume and Production Design) fared better, acing all the few nominated categories they were in. The night, voted by six thousand Academy members, was mostly about awarding traditions: letting select ingeniously crafted movies take home an accolade or two, while awarding a stamp of excellence of what is perceived to be ‘Oscar-friendly’.
For example: The Great Beauty is your typical man-lost-in-jaded-monotonous-reality foreign-film-friendly fare; Dallas Buyers Club is your first Oscar to a gay-transgender performance (Jared Leto deserves every ounce of his gold statute) and 12 Years a Slave played its racism card and won. Meanwhile, box office-friendly actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, now nominated five times, still remain neglected.
I particularly enjoyed Ellen Degeneres’ tame, family-friendly run. Her pizza gig, where she ends up asking celebrities to pitch in to pay for the delivered pizzas, was subtly amusing. At one point, she called out, “Where is Harvey Weinstein?” (of The Weinstein Company) who later pitched $200, along with John Travolta (a $20), Kevin Spacy (a $20 plus a tip for Ellen), Brad Pitt (maybe $60) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (another $20).
Ellen also made Twitter history with the group selfie that ended up making 2.7 million retweets, butting out Barack Obama’s previous record within the hour (the retweet traffic was so intense that it crashed the service).
Matthew McConaughey, who won the Best Actor, made a perfect ending to the Oscars’ theme of the night about everyday heroes. While it should be something to look forward to, the question really is: how does one top an Oscar in 10 years’ time?