Many argue that the Oscars are nothing more than a popularity contest. Many factors determine the outcome, and some of them are hard to quantify, such as buzz and how much the studio campaigned for a film. Of course quality of the nominees is almost never in question, and this year was no exception. While nine nominees for Best Picture are a few too many, the plus side is that a large number of nominees ensures that more deserving films have the chance to bask in Oscar glory.
In olden times, like the 1980s, one film would sweep all the award categories. I think it’s a testament to a growingly diverse voting body in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership consists of established and respected Hollywood elite, that one movie hardly ever wins more than just a few categories. My only disappointment is that the winners are so easy to predict. The winners are pretty much always the favorites these days–I love a great upset! Let’s take a quick look at who won this year, and why.
Oscars 2014 Winners
BEST PICTURE ~ 12 Years a Slave
Why it won: This movie was the favorite going into Oscar night, and the predictions proved spot-on. The Academy has a tradition of voting for extremely well-done period films with a strong message. Twelve Years a Slave wowed voters on several fronts, especially the acting and the screenplay. Plus, in a way it harkens back to one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest movies, Gone with the Wind, but Twelve Years a Slave completely turns the older film on its head with its harsh and realistic examination of slavery.
BEST ACTOR ~ Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Why he won: Matthew McConaughey transformed himself for the role of an electrician and rodeo junkie who contracts HIV then AIDS: he lost almost 50 pounds, and the Academy loves that. This truly was the performance of a lifetime. Plus, everyone is very impressed with how McConaughy has reinvented himself as a serious actor, proving that he is no slacker. Alright alright alright!
Special thanks to avda-foto.de for the use of the above photo.
Best Actress ~ Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Why she won: Cate Blanchett is stellar in this film, in which she plays a broke divorcee coming unraveled. Our Cate has been acting brilliantly for over two decades now, and she deserved this recognition as much for her body of work as for this particular performance. The Academy knew it, and finally got their act together and gave her an Oscar.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role ~ Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Why he won: As previously mentioned, the Academy loves it when actors transform themselves. We could argue that Jared Leto’s transformation was almost as drastic as McConaughy’s, although very different. Leto plays an HIV-positive transgender person named Rayon. He brings incredible humanity to the role, and one can’t helped but be moved by Rayon’s struggle for survival, her bravery, and her weakness.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role ~ Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Why she won: Lupita is the most exciting actress to burst on the scene since Jennifer Lawrence. The Academy loves recognizing new young talent with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. While this might seem ageist, the Academy sees this category as a helpful launching pad for these actresses, while the Best Actress category is reserved for more experienced (though usually still young and beautiful) talent. But most of all, Lupita deserved this for her breakthrough performance as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave. (Check out this great New Yorker article for more on this.) It could be argued that she steals the show.
Best Animated Feature, Frozen by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho
I was a little biased going into this one, having had an awesome opportunity to meet Jennifer Lee and hear her talk about Frozen on my Disney trip last year. What impressed me was the incredible intricacy and boldness of her vision. This was a highly competitive category. All the nominees were outstanding in their own way, but Frozen was so exceptional in every detail that it literally froze out the competition.
Here are the remaining winners. What do you think of it? Did your favorites win? Let me know in the comments section!
Best Cinematography ~ Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Costume Design ~ The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin
Best Directing ~ Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón
Best Documentary Feature ~ 20 Feet from Stardom by Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers
Best Documentary Short ~ “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” by Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed
Best Film Editing ~ Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
Best Foreign Language Film ~ The Great Beauty (Italy)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling ~ Dallas Buyers Club by Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Best Original Score ~ Gravity (Steven Price )
Best Original Song ~ “Let It Go” – Frozen
Best Production Design ~ The Great Gatsby by Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn
Best Animated Short Film ~ “Mr. Hublot” by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
CLICK HERE FOR A REVIEW OF ALL FIVE BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM NOMINEES!
Best Live Action Short Film ~ “Helium” by Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
Best Sound Editing ~ Gravity by Glenn Freemantle
Best Sound Mixing ~ Gravity by Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro
Best Visual Effects ~ Gravity by Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, and Neil Corbould
Best Adapted Screenplay ~ 12 Years a Slave by John Ridley
Best Original Screenplay • Her by Spike Jonze (Click here for a review of Her!)