Wednesday, March 5, 2014

After Watching the 2014 Academy Awards on March 2, 2014

Mike and I watched the 86th Annual Academy Awards telecast on March 2, 2014, and loved how Ellen’s presence made it all the more endurable.  I wish they would give Ellen Degeneres a ten year contract to host the Oscars, because we deeply enjoy watching her.  She poked fun at actors, ordered pizza for them, and took selfies with them, and avoided making too many uncomfortable jokes about the serious films nominated this year.  The few LGBT-friendly jokes she made were very funny.

Mike and I liked that “Gravity” swept the Oscars, by winning 7 Academy Awards this year, but we didn’t like how many good films like “The Butler” and “The Great Gatsby” were shut-out or snubbed.  It is a historical year for multi-cultural film-makers.  Alfonso Cuaron became the first Latino and first Mexican to win “Best Director” when he won for “Gravity,” and “12 Years A Slave”  became the first film by a Black director to win “Best Picture,” and Lupita Nyong’o became the first “Mexican-Kenyan” win an Oscar.  Lupita was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents.  She now lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

Mike and I decided to make a turkey dinner for Oscars night, because we like using the leftovers to make cranberry turkey salad sandwiches with diced apple and chopped peanuts, with mayo and mustard.  We are still eating those delicious sandwiches!  We also drank a bottle of Sonoma County California wine, which was delicious.

Mike was a little frustrated that the Oscars started at 7:30pm Chicago time this year, ending at 11pm.  He had a restless night’s sleep, and ended up calling in sick at work.  That was okay, because we got to watch all the post Oscars shows on television, like Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto on Ellen’s show. 

Lupita’s speech at the Oscars was very moving.  Tears came to our eyes, as tears came to her eyes, and she said with great meaning and sincerity, “no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”  Lupita Nyong’o understands the difficulty of her role as an abused slave, in an important film that may be too difficult to watch more than once. 

When John Ridley won for screenplay, he didn’t mention the director, Steve McQueen, making people believe that there is a rift between them, over credit for the screenplay.  Ridley took all the credit himself, and said backstage, that he’s very thankful for Steve McQueen, who made that Oscar possible.  John Ridley is being haunted by a controversial article he wrote for Esquire in 2006, where he spouts racial stereotypes of African Americans, and calls them the “n” word.  He seemed to have claimed that African Americans can’t make it in the U.S. without help from “white” America.  I think that is only partly true, and his wording is misrepresentation, and slightly mis-guided.  Many Black and African American artists have all accepted that the only way to succeed is by treating whites fairly, and assimilating into American culture.  Where Ridley is wrong, is that the culture of poverty and the culture of the educated are not just part of Black America, but exists everywhere where poverty exists.  John Ridley is only the second African American writer to win an Oscar for writing, which is still very admirable, but he needs to watch his opinions!  Maybe time and working on “12 Years a Slave” have changed him, and his opinions.  I’m willing to give him a second chance.

Mike and I loved the performances at this year Oscars, laughing when many people in the audience got up to dance to Pharell Williams’ Oscar nominated song “Happy.”  Also, I was very touched by Pink’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” and Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.”  They made the “In Memoriam” part of the Oscars all the more moving.  I love hearing just about anybody sing “Over The Rainbow,” because it such a beautiful song, written at the beginning of World War II.  After listening to the lyrics carefully, I have decided that “Over The Rainbow” is about wanting and dreaming of a better world.  We can all relate to that.  I dream of a world without sexism, racism, extreme-poverty, homophobia, classism, and fairness for the way animals are treated. 

Some of the racist(“12 Years A Slave”), sexist(“American Hustle,” and “Wolf of Wall Street”), and homophobic(“Dallas Buyers Club”)  comments made in this year’s Oscar nominated films made me feel we live in an imperfect world, filled with people who make “rash” comments without thinking about them.  Fortunately, these movies make people talk about it, and try to work it out.  We need more conversations about fairness and equality for all. 

I think that is why “Gravity” won so many Oscars, because it is not sexist, and represents women as an intelligent heroine, who finds ways to save herself. 

Sandra Bullock made over $70 million dollars from that movie, because she had it in her contract to get 15 percent of the gross profits, and the movie went on to make 700 million dollars worldwide and counting!  Not a bad argument for equal pay for women!

I was very confused about the Ron Woodruff character in “Dallas Buyers Club” because of all the negative comments he makes in the film.  Dallas Buyers Club is a very complicated "character" story, about people living and dying of AIDS, that challenges the view to care about them, because they are dying. I was very turned off by Ron Woodruff's homophobic, and Transphobic remarks in the film, which Gay Rights Activists say should not be tolerated. When you put their trashy lifestyles aside, and all the negative comments, you have to decide as a viewer to care for them, because they are going against the system of pharmaceutical company greed, to get experimental drugs to people to keep them alive. That's the true message of the movie, despite the fact that Mathew McConaughey says that it is not a "message" film, which is why he didn't acknowledge AIDS in his acceptance speech. Jared Leto's character, which was made up, to make people care about Ron Woodruff in the slightest, showed us how quickly AIDS killed some people. Leto is more sensitive to the GLBT community, as McConaughey is not. McConaughey thanked God, his family, and himself in his Oscars acceptance speech, but it was self-serving because he didn't acknowledge AIDS or even the people who helped him make the film!  McConaughey’s speech didn’t change Mike’s slight distaste for him. 

Jared Leto’s speech acknowledging the 36 million people who have died of AIDS in the world, and his speaking up for the LGBT community to feel pride, was good enough for me, to make me like him.  His appearance on Ellen made me believe that he’s a good guy, who wants to speak out for fairness and equality.

In the end, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for “Blue Jasmine” despite all the Woody Allen controversy, of something that happened so long ago.  I like Cate Blanchett for playing Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on the Sydney stage.

Robert Lopez, a Filipino American, won an Oscar for his song “Let It Go” for the popular Disney movie “Frozen.”  This makes me want to see the film, which also won an Oscar for “Best Animated Film.”  When Idina Menzel sang the song at the Oscars, John Travolta goofed up her name extremely, by introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.”  This goof up became the talk of the internet, because everyone that it was funny.   Idina even hugged John after her performance, shrugging off the mistake.

Finally, this has been the year of the “snub” and also the “shut-out,” because many films won no awards this year.  “American Hustle” won none of the ten Academy Awards it was nominated for, making it one of the biggest shut-outs in Oscars history! 

I’m glad they acknowledged Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Roger Ebert in the Memoriam.  These are two intelligent people that will be missed.  I do miss Roger’s presence on the internet and in the newspapers.  I still look up his reviews on the website dedicated to him and his reviews, to read what he said about a past film that Mike and I have watched together in recent times.

As Roger Ebert wrote in an inscribed book to me, “See you at the movies!”

You can read my blog, about Oscar nominated films in the past few years, at

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