2014 Oscars Recap

It has been over a week since the 2014 Oscars aired on ABC and though the hype has died down, here’s a recap some of the best (and worst) moments from the Academy Awards:

Ellen Degeneres hosted the Oscars last Sunday with a much better approach than the controversial Seth MacFarlane had at last year’s Oscars. Ellen impressed the audiences in the Dolby Theater and at home with her satirical humor, pleasant demeanor, and utilization of improv and unexpected surprises (i.e. ordering pizza). With 43.74 million viewers, Sunday’s Academy Awards was marked as the most watched Oscars ceremony since 2000, which is partially due to Ellen’s appearance. In addition, Ellen’s infamous celebrity selfie that took place during the ceremony made for the most tweeted post on Twitter and practically crashed the social media website.

The infamous, record-breaking Oscars selfie

The infamous, record-breaking selfie.

The rest of the evening was also filled with glamorous award presenters, electric musical performances, and even a few kooky moments. My favorite parts were especially the music performances of the Best Original Song nominees. Although U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was a little bland, I did enjoy Pharrell’s lively number for the aptly titled “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, Karen O and Ezra Koenig’s understated but beautiful love ballad “The Moon Song” from Her, and Idina Menzel’s powerhouse singing on “Let It Go,” from Frozen. Speaking of which, one of the most awkward and bizarre moments of the Oscars came right before Menzel’s performance, when presenter John Travolta mispronounced the Wicked singer’s name as “Adele Dazeem.” Though that bit caused instant ridicule and criticism, it also ignited a plethora of memes online and even a name generator “#TravoltifyYourName,” creating yet another Oscars moment through social media.

John Travolta's incident at the Oscars

Oh, John.

Perhaps the most feats achieved that night were the award wins. Gravity, the epic space thriller starring Sandra Bullock, won the most awards (7). Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón also became the first Mexican director to win the prestigious Best Director award at the Oscars. Though Gravity won the most accolades, it was Steve McQueen who scored big on Oscars night when his breathtaking historical film 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. I was surprised to see that American Hustle, which held the most nominations of the night (10), received zero wins. Other Best Picture nominees bereft of award wins also included The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Captain Phillips, and Philomena

(From left) Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club;" Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for "Blue Jasmine;" Lupita N'yongo won Best Supporting Actress for "12 Years a Slave;" and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club"

(From left) Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club;” Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine;” Lupita Nyongo won Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave;” and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club”

Though most of my predictions of the award were fairly accurate, it was still exciting to see the tension build up to that fateful moment when the presenter utters the phrase, “And the Oscar goes to…” I’d have to say that Ellen definitely brought forth the energy, effort, and spirit of an Oscar host to the ceremony, something that has been somewhat neglected in the past (i.e. 2011’s disastrous hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco). Even though there were some boring parts to the show, such as the lengthy, unnecessary “Superhero” montages or Bette Midler’s uncomfortable performance after the In Memoriam segment, next year’s Oscars will hopefully be just as good as this year’s, if not better.

 

Grade: B+

Oscars Recap

Damn, those Oscars were not bad. Well, they weren’t great, but much better in comparison to the dreadful 2011 Academy Awards hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco. This year’s 85th Annual Oscars was hosted by the occasionally witty and occasionally awkward Seth MacFarlane, whose monologue proceeded into one lengthy set of uncomfortable musical numbers, so-so jokes, and a shtick with William Shatner as Captain Kirk from Star Trek. Other than the embarrassing and controversially sexist “We Saw Your Boobs” tribute, which spoke about all the A-list actresses who got naked in several movies, MacFarlane did a fair job of making one-liner gut-busters (“The quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins now”). The 3-hour-long award ceremony gradually continued through suspenseful award presentations, a visually and audibly gratifying James Bond tribute, and three musical numbers from the cast of 2002’s Chicago, 2006’s Dreamgirls, and this year’s Les Misérables. Most of the celeb presenters were endearingly dorky at some points, but just utterly disappointing at others (cough, Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy, cough). A few surprises in the show included a surprsing tie between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty for Best Sound Editing, as well as an unexpected appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama, who presented the Best Picture award via telecast. Other than the performances and the presenters, the awards given were actually not so bad: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) for Best Supporting Actor, Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) for Best Supporting Actress, Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) for Best Actor, and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) for Best Actress. Quentin Tarantino reclaimed his Best Original Screenplay award for Django Unchained, after previously winning it in 1994 for the American classic Pulp Fiction. Chris Terrio’s audacious script from Argo won Best Adapted Screenplay. Austrian hit Amour won Best Foreign Language Film. Searching for Sugar Man, the incredible untold story of a forgotten musician pioneer, won Best Documentary. Pixar claimed yet another win for Best Animated Feature with Brave (the Disney-associated company previously won 7 awards in the same category). Adele’s beautiful and compelling Bond theme, “Skyfall,” won Best Original Song. Ang Lee was the biggest winner of the night, when his epic survival drama Life of Pi won the most awards (4) of the night for Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and the one of the biggest honors, Best Director. But in all honesty, Ben Affleck was the true triumphant victor of the award show when his acclaimed Argo won Best Picture, despite him winning only two other awards (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing) and his snub for Best Director. Although he choked with tears of joy through most of his speech, it was indeed valiant, uplifting, and heartbreaking all in one. The show ended with another mediocre musical number, performed by MacFarlane and Broadway star Kristen Chenoweth, who both sang a tribute to all the “losers” at the Oscars that night. Some may disagree, but despite MacFarlane’s sporadic irreverent antics, as well the show’s excessive length, this year’s Oscars wasn’t that bad. Next year, though, not only will we experience yet another set of excellent films, but hopefully we will also get an actually interesting and engaging host(s). Preferably Tina Fey and Amy Poehler again? Let’s hope so.

Oscars Precap/Predictions

This year in film has endured a variety of intriguing, inspirational, and artistic movies. Luckily, tomorrow is the long-awaited 85th Academy Awards, hosted by “Family Guy” and “Ted” creator Seth McFarlane. It will be televised on ABC at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. This year’s Oscars will contain some obvious and surprising factors: exquisitely or dreadfully dressed celebs will walk on the red carpet before the show, Seth McFarlane will be accompanied by a digitalized Ted or Stewie (I’m assuming), awkward moments will occur between award presenters, the musical numbers will be lengthy, and there will be award snubs and surprises. This year’s Oscars also contains one of the most intense award competitions among films, writers, directors, and actors. Here are my predictions for the award nominees:

Best Picture:

  • Amour 
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Argo

Best Director:

  • Michael Haneke – Amour
  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
  • Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Who will win: Steven Spielberg
Who should win: Ang Lee

Best Actor:

  • Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
  • Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  • Denzel Washington – Flight
Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Who should win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Actress:

  • Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts – The Impossible
Who will win: Jennifer Lawrence
Who should win: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Alan Arkin – Argo
  • Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Who will win: Christoph Waltz
Who should win: Tommy Lee Jones

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Amy Adams – The Master
  • Sally Field – Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
  • Helen Hunt – The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook
Who will win: Anne Hathaway
Who should win: Anne Hathaway

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Amour – Michael Haneke
  • Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino
  • Flight – John Gatins
  • Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
  • Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal
Who will win: Django Unchained
Who should win: Django Unchained

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Argo – Chris Terrio
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
  • Life of Pi – David Magee
  • Lincoln – Tony Kushner
  • Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell
Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Argo

Best Animated Feature:

  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Wreck-It Ralph
Who will win: Brave
Who should win: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • Amour
  • Kon-Tiki
  • No
  • A Royal Affair
  • War Witch
Who will win: Amour
Who should win: Amour

Best Documentary:

  • 5 Broken Cameras
  • The Gatekeepers
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • The Invisible War
  • Searching for Sugar Man
Who will win: Searching for Sugar Man
Who should win: The Invisible War

Best Original Score:

  • Anna Karenina
  • Argo
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Skyfall
Who will win: Lincoln
Who should win: Life of Pi

Best Original Song:

  • “Before My Time” – Chasing Ice
  • “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” – Ted
  • Pi’s Lullaby” – Life of Pi
  • “Skyfall” – Skyfall
  • “Suddenly” – Les Misérables
Who will win: “Skyfall”
Who should win: “Skyfall”

Best Sound Editing:

  • Argo
  • Django Unchained
  • Life of Pi
  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Argo

Best Sound Mixing:

  • Argo
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Skyfall
Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Argo

Best Production Design:

  • Anna Karenina
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
Who will win: Les Misérables
Who should win: Life of Pi

Best Cinematography:

  • Anna Karenina
  • Django Unchained
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Skyfall
Who will win: Life of Pi
Who should win: Life of Pi

Best Makeup:

  • Hitchcock
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Les Misérables
Who will win: The Hobbit
Who should win: Les Misérables

Best Costume Design:

  • Anna Karenina
  • Les Misérables
  • Lincoln
  • Mirror Mirror
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
Who will win: Les Misérables
Who should win: Lincoln

Best Film Editing:

  • Argo
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Who will win: Argo
Who should win: Argo

Best Visual Effects:

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Life of Pi
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Promethus
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
Who will win: Life of Pi
Who should win: Life of Pi

Hope the Oscars will be great this year!
Stay tuned for the recap!

Grammy Awards Recap

Well, the year in music has gone and yet another Grammy Awards season has passed by. The 55th Annual Grammy Awards was hosted last Sunday at the Staples Center. The 3-hour program consisted of glamorous celebrities, crazy music performances, and anxious excitement on who will win what. It’s pretty much like most Grammy shows, but this year had one of the most intense award competitions within the four major categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
R&B crooner Frank Ocean was expected to take home all six of his nominations, which included his critically acclaimed summer smash hit Channel Orange for Album of the Year, his chart-topping love ballad, “Thinkin Bout You” for Record of the Year, and for Best New Artist. But, boy, did we have it wrong. Ocean only won two of his six Grammys (He won Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap Collaboration). He unfortunately lost to the folk rock group Mumford & Sons and their sophomore effort Babel for Album of the Year, chart-topping indie duo Gotye & Kimbra and their used-to-be-charming-now-obnoxious “Somebody I Used to Know” for Record of the Year; and the hyperactive indie rock band Fun., for Best New Artist. Other winners at the Grammys included Adele, Skrillex, Usher, Beyoncé, Jay-Z & Kanye West, Drake, and many more.
Ocean and the winners of the major categories and were also up against a fierce collective of music artists, which included The Black Keys, Jack White, Taylor Swift, Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, Kelly Clarkson, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Some of these artists, including Ocean, Fun., Mumford & Sons, Gotye, and Kimbra, performed during the Grammys. Ocean sang his soulful ballad “Forrest Gump” in an understated yet mesmerizing performance. Jack White also blew away the audience with two of his head-banging rock anthems “Love Interruption” and “Freedom at 21.” The Black Keys crooned alongside Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with their infectious groove “Lonely Boy.” Unprecedented R&B artist Miguel performed his compelling Song of the Year nomination “Adorn” with rapper Wiz Khalifa. However, some Grammy performances fell flat, such as Taylor Swift’s tasteless and cheesy performance of “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (we get it Taylor, jeeze, stop overdoing it!) and Rihanna’s dull rendition of her Unapologetic track “Stay” with music producer Mikky Ekko. Even so, the performances never wavered when Damian and Ziggy Marley gave a lively tribute to their late great father Bob Marley, alongside Bruno Mars, Sting, and Rihanna. Another tribute was also given to the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch.
This year’s Grammys wasn’t anything special. But we got to experience some exhilarating performances, finger biting award winner announcements, and a few comebacks, including R&B-pop star Justin Timberlake’s return to music from a 7-year hiatus. He sang his first single, “Suit & Tie” with rapper Jay-Z, off his upcoming record The 20/20 Experience, coming out March 20th. I guess you could say that the Grammys reminds us every year about the excitement and mesmerizing effect of music and how intrigued we are by the art and development of music. Hopefully, the Grammys will help us look forward to this exciting year in music.
You can check out the list of awards and nominations here.

2013 Grammy Nominations Are In!

By now, you’ve probably heard the 55th Grammy Award nominations! Just in case you didn’t, here is the list of the four main categories:
Album of the Year:
Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
El Camino – The Black Keys
Babel – Mumford & Sons
Blunderbuss – Jack White

Some Nights – fun.

Possible Winner: Channel Orange – Frank Ocean: He’s the music icon of 2012 and this is possibly the best album in 2012 that can easily be turned into a classic.

Record of the Year:

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Kelly Clarkson
“Thinkin Bout You” – Frank Ocean
“Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys
“We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe) – fun.
“Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra)” – Gotye
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – Taylor Swift

Possible Winner: “Thinkin Bout You” – Frank Ocean: Its passionate message, crooning vocals, dreamy rhythm, and poignance make “Thinkin Bout You” not only the most talked-about “record” of the year, but the most aesthetic and beautiful song heard in years.

Song of the Year:

“The A Team” – Ed Sheeran
“Adorn” – Miguel
“Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jespen
“We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe) – fun.
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Kelly Clarkson

Possible Winner: “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran: The first track off of Sheeran’s debut, +, is an enchanting, hopeful song, brought on by Sheeran’s hypnotic voice. Despite its competition with the other more mainstream nominations, it’s sure to still shine.

Best New Artist:
The Lumineers
Alabama Shakes
fun.
Hunter Hayes
Frank Ocean

Possible Winner: Frank Ocean: C’mon, it’s pretty obvious.

Check out the rest of the nominations here.
The 55th Grammy Awards will be held on February 10th on CBS.